Father’s Day: A Tribute to My Dad

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My Dad and me

My Dad, George Philip Manfroid, Jr. was born to George Manfroid and Helen Desens on 26 October 1919 in Forest Park, Illinois.  Dad grew up in Forest Park and Elmhurst, Illinois.  He went to York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.  He had a brother, Donald, 14 years younger than him.  He grew up during the depression and that made a great impression on him.  I remember the stories that my dad told me about the depression.  When I hear about the recent recession compared to the great depression on TV, I cringe because the recent recession is nothing like what my father described to me.  His father lost his business, then they lost their house, and they ate bananas for Sunday dinner.  There were no safety nets like there are today for the unemployed.  Because this made such an impact on my Father he decided that his children would not go without.  He went without lunch for weeks and saved his lunch money to buy me a doll for Christmas.  He made me a doll house with a hand saw (he didn’t have power tools at the time).   He gave me everything he possibly could.  Not only did he give me material things, he gave me his time, attention, advice, and love.  He gave me history lessons at the dinner table.  He loved history, and I learned about history and current events through dinner time discussions.  He had a great sense of humor.  Whenever my brother or I asked if he would buy us the latest toy or gadget, he would say, “Yes on the 42nd of July.”  Just in case they ever changed the calendar the 42nd had to land on the second Tuesday of the week.  In other words we were never going to get it.  He loved  gardening and painting the house.  He was always painting inside or outside.  He loved his baseball and the Cubs.   He was always there for me whenever I needed him.  If I just need to talk or if I needed a shoulder to cry on, he was there.  I loved him very much and I have no doubt about his love for me. 

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Dad walking me down the aisle

When I got married, he walked me down the aisle and gave me away.  He told my husband on our wedding day that if he (my husband) ever did anything to hurt me, he would have to answer to him (my father).  After we were married for several years, my father told some friends of ours that when their daughters grew up he hoped they found someone like my husband.  I picked a good man because I had a good father. 

My Dad worked hard and sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet.  When I was born my dad was a bus driver.  He drove a bus for a suburban bus company, Leyden Motor Coach.  At first he worked nights and holidays, but as he gained seniority, he was able to work mostly days and had the major holidays off.  Sometimes he would take a charter on his day off.  He especially liked the ones to the ball games.  He would get off work from the bus company about 2:30pm, and go to his second job driving a mini bus for a nursery school, Jack and Jill, in Villa Park, Illinois.   He was with the bus company for 17 years when the company closed down.  My Dad then got a job with Burney Brothers Bakery driving a delivery truck.  He delivered to Jewel grocery stores in Chicago.   He also took overtime delivering wedding cakes on Saturdays.  After 17 years with Burney Brothers, they closed down too.  At 59 years old my father was without a job, no pension, and not old enough for Social Security.  He found a job doing maintenance work at the Wheaton Park District.  He worked there for the next five years.

We lived in an Apartment until 1953 when my parents bought their first house in Lombard (Villa Park was across the street).   We lived in that house until 1963 when they bought another house in Villa Park.   In 1968 they moved to a smaller house in Carol Stream, Illinois due to my father’s health issues.  My father lived in the Carol Stream home until his death.

In 1967, my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He was given radiation treatments for six weeks.  The tumor was in his voice box, and he couldn’t talk very well.  The radiation shrank the tumor so he did get his voice back.  They wanted to remove the voice box to get rid of the cancer altogether, but my father said he would rather die than to be without his voice.  He lived 17 more years without a recurrence.  In late February or early March of 1984, we noticed my dad had slowed down.  He said he wasn’t feeling good, and my mother finally convinced him to see a doctor.  He went to the doctor and was sent him for some tests.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer. A few days later my dad was admitted to the hospital.  I went to see him and he had to cough a lot.  It was deep cough and it seemed that when he coughed he could not get his breath.  It was hard to watch.  My last visit with my father, I noticed he kept staring at me.  I thought to myself that he is studying me in case this is the last time he sees me.  When it was time to go, I said “Good-bye I hope you get better soon.”  He said, “Me too.”  We were holding hands and he did not want to let go and neither did I.  I planned to go back every day, but the next day I came down with a terrible cold that settled in my chest.  I did not go to visit him because I was afraid of giving him my cold.  I thought the last thing he needs is a cold.   The next day my mom called me to say that the doctor called her and told her to get to the hospital he was dying.  I couldn’t go because I had two small children at home.  My mother and brother were there with him at the end. My mom said he kept pulling the tubes out of his arms.  So I think he was ready to die. 

My dad passed away from Cancer on March 15, 1984 at 64 years, 4 months, and 18 days.  I wish I was there with my Dad at the end; however it is a comfort to know that my mother and brother were there for him.  He is loved and dearly missed by his children, grandchildren, family, and friends.  Happy Father’s Day to a great Dad!  If I could tell him one thing it would be this, “Dad, the Cubs finally did it and won the World Series in 2016!” 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week Father’s Day

Copyright©2016 Gail Grunst


Dear Grandma

Grandma Manfroid

Helen Desens

I never knew my paternal Grandmother because she died six months before I was born.  For some reason, I have always felt a connection to her even as a little girl.  I thought I would write her a letter to let her know my feelings for her, and the questions I would ask her if I could talk to her.

Dear Grandma,

We have never met, but I hope you know me.  You died six months before I was born.  I wish that I could have known you the way I knew my other Grandmother.  All I have are a few scant stories of you.  My dad said you had a great sense of humor and that you could be sarcastic.  I might have inherited the sarcasm from you.  I wonder how much we are alike.   Do I look like you, is my personality like you?  If we could sit down to lunch and talk, I would ask you so many questions.  What was your childhood like?  How did you meet my grandfather?  How did you feel when my father was born?  Were you happy?  What was it like to have a mentally challenged son?  What were your favorite subjects in school?  How far did you go in school?  Did you work and if so where did you work?  Were you a good cook?  Did you sew, crochet, knit?  You could tell me about your sisters and brothers and your parents.  You could tell me family stories.  What was it like to live though the depression, WWI and WWII? You went to Lutheran School and Church so I guess you would believe in God and Jesus Christ.  Maybe we talk about religion and our beliefs.  I would ask you about your health.  When you were sick were you afraid?  Were you afraid of dying?  Since my dad and his brother are 14 years apart, did you have a hard time conceiving?  Did you want more children, did you lose any children?  I wish I had better pictures of you.  So that I could close my eyes see what you looked like.  I wish I had a recording of your voice so I would know what your voice sounded like. When I was a little kid I would envision you looking down at me from heaven, and I would have conversations with you.  I always felt like my father’s side of the family was missing.  We had so little contact with any of them.  As I do my research, I find that my father had a lot of cousins and they had children, yet I only knew a few.   I wish I had some recipes that you handed down to me.  You could have taught me to cook your favorites or my father’s favorites.  There are so many things I do not know about you.  I would hope that you would like me and be proud of me.  I could introduce you to my husband and your great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.  How can I miss someone I never knew, yet I miss you and have missed you my entire life.  Some day we shall meet.  Until then I love you.  Rest in Peace, Grandma.

Love from your Granddaughter,


A short biography of Helen Desens

Helen Desens was born on March 23, 1901 at home to Carl Desens and Augusta Gabbei in Forest Park, Illinois.[1]  She was the youngest of eight children (5 sisters and 2 brothers).[2]  She was baptized at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Forest Park, Illinois.[3]  She grew up in Forest Park and attended St. John Lutheran School and Church.[4]  She was confirmed at St. John Lutheran Church.[5]  On March 22, 1919 she married George Manfroid in Wheaton, Illinois.[6]  They made their home in Forest Park and later moved to Elmhurst, Illinois.[7]  They had two sons, George and Donald.[8] Helen suffered for 4 years from Chronic Parenchymatous Nephritis.[9] Helen died of Uremia on September 4, 1946 in Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in Elmhurst, Illinois at the young age of 45.[10] Helen is buried at Chapel Hill Gardens, West in Elmhurst, Illinois alongside her husband, George.[11]

Copyright ©2017 Gail Grunst



[1] Ancestry.com. U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Records, 1875-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. ELCA, Birth, Marriage, Deaths. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Chicago, Illinois.

[2] Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[3] Ancestry.com. U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Records, 1875-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. ELCA, Birth, Marriage, Deaths. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Chicago, Illinois

[4] Told to the author by Helen’s Son, George

[5] St. John’s Congregational book 1908 – 1926, Page 227.

[6] Marriage license and return.  Illinois, Dupage, Wheaton, Illinois State Board of Health,  County Clerks Office.

[7] Told to Author by Helen’s son George.

[8] Personal knowledge of Author.

[9] Certificate of Death, Registration Dist. 231, No. # 22743, State of Illinois, County of DuPage, City of Elmhurst, County Clerks Office.

[10] Certificate of Death, Registration Dist. 231, No. # 22743, State of Illinois, County of DuPage, City of Elmhurst, County Clerks Office.

[11] Cemetery Records, Chapel Hill Gardens, West, Roosevelt Rd. at Route 83, Elmhurst, Illinois.