William Howard Inman: A 20th Century Man


Many men go through history making grand gestures, broad strokes, and immediate changes. Other men move through history quietly. Providing for their family, leading by example, and living life from one day to the next. Now at first glance, one could say that the man who leaves his mark on the world will forever be remembered in the history books of old, and while that may be true, the quiet men impact more than anyone ever realizes. The quiet men cultivate a family, and let their legacy simply be that. Through their families, the quiet men will never die, and become immortal. For generations, relatives and offspring will talk about them, the things they did, and their actions. The quiet men gain a vocal legacy. Paper books can burn and crumble to dust, but stories can never die. The quiet men live in stories, and because of that, they will never be forgotten.

My grandfather, William Howard Inman, is a man that will probably not be written about in any history books. Though that simple fact does not mean that his legacy is small. In fact, it means just the opposite. Through his words and actions, my grandfather has carved out a legacy that I would argue could rival many. 

From the outside looking in, one could say that he was just a simple farmer. True, he was a farmer, but my grandfather was a true child of the 20th century. A label that I cannot apply to many other people. 

My grandfather was born on May 3, 1926 on the family farm. His father passed away when he was nine, and suddenly my grandfather was the head of a farm right in the middle of the Great Depression. He was later drafted to serve in World War 2. The government denied his entry in the service as he was the main bread-winner to his mother and his younger siblings. Marrying my grandmother in 1946, he continued to farm and cultivate land for the rest of his life. Living through the 1950s, and bringing electricity to the small farm that he grew up on. Decades passed, and through the passing of time, my grandfather had gained three kids, ten grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Many aspects of his life are mind-boggling to me. How one so young could keep a farm together through the Depression, and even the Dust Bowl. It seems impossible to me, but he did it. 

My grandfather is the primary reason why I am proud to say that I grew up on a farm, and why I’m proud to be from Kansas. It’s not a fact, I hide; I wear it like a badge of pride. Every time I mention it, I think of the Kansas sunsets on the hay fields. The quiet breeze mixed with the sound of cicadas. The snapping of fescue as he walks through the fields; ready to call it a day and go home.

One of my favorite memories of my grandfather is from when I was a small child. We were in a field that had recently been plowed, and he reached down to the dirt and picked up a big clod. He let the dirt roll in his fingers as he slowly crushed it. Letting it all fall back to the earth. I asked him why he did that. He replied that he was checking how dry the ground was; seeing if it was ready to plant. That image stuck with me. Here was this farmer feeling the dirt, becoming one with it. It was like they had a partnership, and they would both take care of each other.

That’s why I find it fitting for him that at the end, his body will return to the earth. He spent his entire life farming, and taking care of the soil. I can think of no better tribute for him then to join the land. He was a Kansas farmer his entire life. Now, he will become a part of that great land that he spent so much time to care for.

William Howard Inman was a farmer, a family man, and my grandfather. I would be lucky to have even a small piece of the legacy that he will leave behind. I loved him very much, and I’m very proud to have been his grandson.

And as the wind blows over the Kansas plains, rushing past all the fields that he worked on. If you listen very carefully, he will be there. The fields of Kansas were his home, and he will never leave 

William Howard Inman (May 26, 1926 ~ November 14, 2011)

You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived,
You can close your eyes and pray 
that he will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see 
all that he has left.
Your heart can be empty 
because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared,
You can turn your back on
tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow 
because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind be empty
and turn your back,
Or you can do what he would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

–David Harkins


  1. jawiin posted this
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