Grandpa Brigel, me and a love of reading.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandpa Brigel who passed away a little over a year ago. Anyone that knew him would say he was quite the character and a charmer in his own unique way.

All the grandkids and I called him Boom-pa, spelling of his nickname probably varies by grandkid. How he got dubbed that nickname is probably best kept in the family (you’re welcome, Mom). Boom-pa always had a smile on his face and would be the first to ask how you were doing. For marketing reasons, I’ve studied a lot about generational characteristics, and Boom-pa was part of the Greatest Generation. He served in the military, and although he never talked much about it when asked, I could tell he was proud of his time in the military.

He always put his family before himself. The last time I talked with him, before he passed away, was when he called me while he was in hospice care. I had just gotten home from a quick hospital stay for a kidney stone and he was calling to see how I was doing! To this day, I can still hear him saying, “Ryan, I’ve heard you’ve had a rough couple of days…how you doing kiddo?” Greatest Generation EVER!

As a kid growing up, the majority of my time spent with Boom-Pa was at his cottage. He was quite the handyman around the cottage. And, with everything that needed fixing around the cottage, he added his own unique style of repair. He was the MacGyver of handymen. Furnace not working, there goes Boom-pa with a rubber band, a piece of gum and a fishing hook.

One of my favorite memories of him was the time he was warning me and some of the other kids about being careful on the lake wall. The lake wall consisted of a 2 feet wide by 4 feet deep concrete wall that separated the yard of the cottage and the lake. It had rained and the waves of the lake were splashing up over the wall. Not two seconds after he warned us how slippery the wall can get and to be careful….splash….he fell/slipped in to the lake! To this day, I’m still not sure if he slipped by accident or just wanted to give us a giggle.

As an adult, I developed a new bond with Boom-pa: books. While chatting with him one Christmas Eve, I discovered that we read a lot of the same authors. I always delighted to hear what he was reading and to talk about the latest Nelson Demille book. He was a regular visitor and donor to his local library.

When Boom-pa passed away, I wanted to do something in his memory and I wasn’t quite sure what. Karen started talking about how old the North Elementary School library was and in the desperate need of an update. She and another friend started talking about raising money for the library. I smiled with what I hope was a little Boom-pa grin, and said “I’d like to help kickstart that.”

With the inspiration from Boom-pa, grants, and donors, we are very close to hitting our first goal for the renovation of the North Elementary School Library. I would love to have your help. The plans for the renovated library are absolutely amazing and you can see pictures and learn more about it at North Elementary School Little Library That Could

You can also make an online donation at

Thank you so much for reading! And to Boom-pa, born on January 28th…Happy Birthday!!!