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Harry Witkop

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To The Editor:

I think of my father, Harry Witkop, and celebrate his life, his accomplishments, his love for family, and his legacy of faith he left behind. He was a dedicated and loyal husband and father committed to his calling to be a family man.

At a young age, Dad spent some time with his aunt and uncle on their small family farm. There on the farm he learned what it meant to be a shepherd.

Mom shared with me that while growing up her one desire was to be married and have a large family. It was God’s plan to bring Dad and Mom together as husband and wife. They were a perfect match for each other.

God planted the family seed and together Mom and Dad, with the help of God’s grace, went on to have nine children, their very little flock of children that would later on in life branch out of five daughter-in-laws, four son-in-laws, 25 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.

What I will remember most about my father is his desire to be a gardener. He had a green thumb, a tremendous gift for growing awesome vegetables. He enjoyed working out in the garden and being out in nature. It was peaceful and relaxing for him.

He worked hard to prepare the soil for the seeds that he would plant. Dad watered his garden daily and kept the weeds from taking over. Gardening was hard work, but Dad always managed to have an amazing garden that produced the most beautiful vegetables. It was awesome to watch the seeds take root and grown.

The legacy that has been passed down to my brothers, sisters, and I is our experience of God through living faith in our parents. My parents knew it took a lot of faith to grow up in a world where trials, hardship, sorrow, and suffering would be a real part of everyday life. They gave us a strong foundation built up in faith, hope, and love.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them - I will show you what he is like. He is like the man who when he built his house dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built? (Lk. 6:47-48).

My father grew up going to a Catholic school. He knew how vital it was to learn about faith keeping prayer alive in his daily life.

I am thankful that Mom and Dad provided my brothers, sisters, and me the opportunity to grow up going to a Catholic school. What a better place to learn and grow in our faith then at Sacred Heart School, now called Trinity Catholic.

Watching my nephew, Aaron, go through a battle with cancer not too long ago and then having to watch Dad go through it was difficult. It is even more difficult to understand why Dad and Aaron had to suffer as much as they did, but I do know that Dad would want us to keep faith alive in our hearts.

Because Dad had such heartfelt love for family, he would want us to carry that torch onward keeping our love for one another alive and well. He would want the bond that makes us the awesome family that we are to stay strong and healthy; otherwise, all that he lived for, and that he died for will be in vein.

Dad, thank you for being such an awesome shepherd and father. I am grateful for the love and faith you and mom gave us. Thank you for the life lessons and for being such an inspiration to us al. You not only knew how to live, you knew how to die. We love you.

Cindy Matthews

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