Recently, my grandfather, Roger Hinrichsen, passed away after a lengthy illness. I miss him very much, but I am glad I have many wonderful memories of my Papa Roger.
For instance, when I was a kid, Papa let me drive his lawnmower around the yard, and even though he set the speed on “turtle,” he never yelled at me when I bumped it up to “rabbit.” He always hid candy bars in his underwear drawer and let the grandkids have one when they came to visit—although I guess they weren’t truly hidden if we all knew where his stash was.
When I was 15, he patiently taught me how to drive a stick shift and helped me find my first car. Whenever I came to visit he would always check the oil in my car and top it off if it was low. I think that was one of my first passages into true adulthood: when Papa Roger stopped checking my oil.
Papa Roger was very affectionate, and quick with a hug and a kiss, coming and going. He always called his wife, my Grandma Janice, his sweetie. Papa was also incredibly friendly and outgoing. Everywhere we went he knew people, they knew him, and they had to stop and chat. His ability to remember names and faces was remarkable.
When I first started working at NPPD, someone gave me a navy blue ball cap with NPPD stitched on the front. It was a nice hat, and because Papa and Grandma always took time to ask me how work was going, I gave it to Papa Roger as a gift. He had so many hats already, though, I thought it would just be one of many in his large collection.
A few months later, I saw that the hat was a bit worn and slightly faded. Grandma Janice told me that it had become his favorite hat, and he wore it all the time. This surprised me because, being an Iowa native and lifelong resident, I was pretty sure Papa knew nothing about NPPD other than that they were an electric company.
More time passed, and I asked Papa what he wanted for his birthday. He asked for a new NPPD hat. Bemused, I ordered him a new hat, and when I gave it to him, I asked him what he liked about it so much. He said when he wore it people always asked him about NPPD, and he told them his granddaughter worked there.
Over the years there were a couple navy NPPD hats, a couple black NPPD hats, and even a camouflage one in there somewhere. He wore the hats I gave him all over northwest Iowa for years—promoting NPPD’s brand and letting me know he was proud of me at the same time.
With Papa’s passing, NPPD and I have lost one of our biggest fans.