RICHLAND CENTER—Grant was born on a farm in Grant County on Sept. 21, 1919, one of 11 children to Ray and Virgie Bristol. Coming of age during the great depression, he understood in a way unlike any other generation the reality of deprivation and the grace of hard work. He sold apples and potatoes with his father, the humble beginning of a long career in sales that would culminate in his work in the auto business for several decades at Bristol Motors. Although he easily fell into the category of someone who could likely sell anything to anyone, his integrity and reputation as a salesman was irreproachable.
He married the only woman he ever dated, and the love of his life, Lola, in 1940 in Strawberry Point, Iowa. They were both 21. He came from a generation who knew or learned how everything in the world worked, and he built from the ground up the house in which he raised his five children, spending the next 71 years there with Lola. Theirs was a love story like no other, a deep, abiding love that remained undiminished with the passage of time and was obvious to all who fell into its orbit. It was not uncommon to have people comment on the special, almost palpable, love that seemed to pass between them. It inspired everyone, but defied imitation. It occupied a lofty category all its own.
He could be very serious and didn’t suffer fools lightly, but those instances were often punctuated by a twinkle in the eye and a witty one-liner. He had a wonderfully rare, dry sense of humor that everyone loved and appreciated, even the unwitting targets of his amusement.
He was a World War II veteran, and a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church, serving there for many years as a Deacon. He loved stamp collecting, wildlife in general and birdsong in particular, and listened to country music, especially Johnny Cash and Marty Stewart. He was an excellent carpenter and spent many hours in his workshop building, among other things, a tree house for two of his grandsons and a beautiful wooden boat. He spent countless hours fishing the lakes and rivers of Wisconsin, almost always catching more fish than his fishing buddies. But the thing he loved most was “taking his girl for a ride,” which they did often, ranging far and wide throughout Richland County, greater Wisconsin and beyond. They traveled in their motor home to every single state in the country save for Alaska and Hawaii.
Above all else, he loved his family. He was often unable to express his feelings for them out of emotions that threatened to overwhelm him, but all it took was one look into the teary eyes he was unable to hide to know the immense love he felt. He had a special relationship with his grandchildren and great grandkids who, a rarity in this day and age, actually looked forward to spending time with him. He was dear to them all.
He lived in the house he built for his family in 1946 until the spring of 2017 when he and Lola moved to Pine Valley Healthcare in Richland Center. The staff at Pine Valley became a second family to the both of them. Grant died on Sunday night, August 5th, in the Richland Center Hospital, in the loving arms of his wife of nearly 78 years.
We shall not see his like again.
He is survived by his wife, Lola; his children, Sandy (Bob) Bee; Sherry Anthony (Doug Cox); Kathy (Lyle) Rosenbaum; Nick (Cheri) Bristol; and Greg (Ingrid) Bristol; his 12 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; four great-great grandchildren; their wonderful neighbor Jim Fry; and a little red pickup truck that one of the great-grandsons now proudly pilots in northern Arizona. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews and faithful friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters Pearl Merwin, Hazel Woolledge, Grace McEnnis and Fern King, his brothers Robert, Roy, Howard, Harold, Melvin and Keith, and his granddaughter Jill Olson. He was also preceded by Lola’s parents; sisters and brother.
The family deeply appreciates the loving care Grant received at Pine Valley Healthcare. The CNAs and the entire staff treated him with such tenderness, humor and compassion. We will be forever grateful for the gentle care they bestowed upon him.
Per his request, a celebration of life will be held at a later date. Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church, Pine Valley Healthcare, or the Richland Hospital, all in Richland Center.
“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life—to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.” George Eliot