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'100th Anniversary Greetings'
From the Grandson of Dr. Roy Sheppard Minerd

By Douglas Edwin Minerd, Charlottesville, VA

Roy Sheppard Minerd

On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the first Minerd Gathering I send greetings and well wishes coupled with profound regret that I cannot attend the reunion this weekend. My Grandfather, Dr. Roy S. Minerd was the Secretary for that first reunion long ago and I want to take a moment to reflect on the character, diversity, creativity, faith and industry that are the hallmarks of our clan.

"Doc" Minerd and my late father Robert E. Minerd were the embodiment of what I love about our family. With their endless range of interests from music to the natural sciences to history and industry and literature, they each spent a lifetime exploring and celebrating the world around them. Lifetime learning was the order of the day and I was raised to believe that each day is a gift to be cherished and explored. Only by Godís grace was Dad able to enjoy so many of those days.

A Navy Band musician, he volunteered for sea duty and at the age of 22, became the senior surviving officer of the last United States warship lost in the Atlantic in World War II. Barely surviving the frigid waters, the sole survivor from the Combat Information Center, he struggled to save his comrades. When he awoke on the carrier, plucked from the sea, he had the awesome and profound responsibility to care for his crew in body and spirit, to write the official after action reports and perhaps most important, to write the individual letters to the families of those lost. I have copies of those letters and each one is individually crafted to reflect the special qualities and character of every one of his comrades. That was Dad. He saw the good in everyone and made it a point to know everybody. To the end of his days he did everything he could to make sure that those men were cared for, comforted and cherished. Dad never had a bad day after April 24th 1945. He was an educator, musician, mechanic and sage; his inventive spirit and creativity were boundless and he instilled in all of us, a curiosity about the world and faith that here in the United States of America, the future was bright and the opportunities endless.

"Doc" and his sons Penn, left, and Robert, Lake Erie, 1925

Dr. Roy Sheppard Minerd MD is a legend. Doctor, Educator, Naturalist and Musician he was a force of nature. To be in his presence was awesome and I will never forget it. His character, faith, creativity, courage, humanity and humor combined to make him so much more than just the sum of his parts. He was a man of great Faith who saw in the wonder of nature and the human spirit the very presence of our Creator. Iíve studied his nature journals and marveled at their detail and his insights; Iíve read his chronicle of the time he spent with orphaned, abandoned and unloved young boys and wept at the confidence and abiding faith he had in the goodness of these young men, when no one else did; Iíve seen his words of wisdom in letters to my father and remember so well his kind and confident teachings. "Pop" Minerd (as Dad called him) responded to medical emergencies wherever and whenever they occurred, sometimes at his own peril. He accompanied sheriffs in the middle of the night as they pursued a murderer, tended to firefighters and victims of a horrible fire in Smethport, was called out to "settle down" a barroom brawl or two with his lightning quick syringe, braved all kinds of weather and brought comfort, medical care and compassion to anyone who needed it, regardless of their ability to pay. Because billings were slim, the Minerds lost their house in Erie PA during the depression but he kept right on ministering to the sick. Even when things were brighter after the move to Smethport, payment sometimes came in bartered goods. One of my most cherished possessions is a silver coffee pot from Revolutionary War days that was a gift to my Grandfather from a woman for whom he had cared many years, but who had no means to pay. His example of Christian Faith, in action not words, by the way he lived and the choices he made are an inspiration to this day.

Two remarkable men indeed but they hail from a family of remarkable men and women, one that is looking ahead even as they celebrate their past. As we think about what we want our legacy to be, consider this:

Doc and Nell with sailor sons Penn (left, with wife Jane), and Robert, World War II era

100 years ago Minerds met and enjoyed fellowship and celebrated the goodness of life and the world we share. If they had asked the same question: "What do we want our legacy to be?" what would the scorecard look like? How many of their goals would have been met? How would we measure up to their ideals and standards and how would we try to continue and build on their remarkable success? The world has changed much since that reunion 100 years ago; two World Wars, advances in science and medicine, men on the moon and social changes too numerous to mention. But some things never change. Love of family and a commitment to live our lives in a spirit of compassion and learning, Faith, Diversity and Celebration are I hope, forgone conclusions. But to those attributes and characteristics must be added the answers to the questions you consider this weekend.

Upstairs on my bed stand, just as it has been everywhere Iíve lived from New York to Virginia, Texas to California and back, there is a beautiful white Bible that was given to me one Easter by Dr. Roy S. Minerd MD. That Easter, bright and beautiful in Smethport Pennsylvania, as only Spring in the mountains can be, is etched in my memory forever. The day I received my Bible, accompanied by our Grandfather on the organ, my late brother Russell and I stood on the stairs in the home still known as "Doc" Minerdís house and sang "There is a Green Hill Far Away". I can still hear it; two young boys who would both pursue a career in music, our small soprano voices perfectly in tune were for one moment, but a couple of cherubs in the presence of a great and kind man. This is the stuff of which we are made; remember it well and I wish you all Godspeed for a memorable and happy occasion.

Best Regards,

Doug Minerd
Charlottesville, VA
June 20, 2013

Note: Doug's father, the late Robert Edwin Minerd, was a guest speaker at our clan's 1998 reunion honoring military veterans.

Click for a detailed biography of Dr. Roy Sheppard Minerd and his medical school memoir, Keep Sweet!