NEGAUNEE - Don Tresedder was featured in The Mining Journal in 2005 in a story package about a bus he had converted into a luxury motor home.
The stories told of his mechanical prowess but they also focused on his positive attitude, despite his struggles with cancer and the subsequent partial amputation of his right leg.
It's that attitude that inspired his family after Tresedder suffered a stroke that landed him in a nursing home. Because, despite losing the ability to speak, Don Tresedder continued to communicate with his family in ways they never imagined, right up until he passed away on Sept. 4 at age 83.
A young Ed Tresedder in 1956 sits on the Model A he and his father would restore many years later, after Don Tresedder had a stroke in 2007. (Tresedder family photo)
"After the stroke, I did a lot with him. We were granted time to spend with him and we did," said son Ed Tresedder.
"My dad was always so interested in the world around him," Ed said. "He still loved to get out and see the world. I took him on the Heritage Trail in his (electric wheelchair) and we went to the beach and he sat under an umbrella and just loved it.
"I couldn't wait to get back in his company," Ed said.
When his father passed, Ed wanted to pay special tribute to the man whose motto was "Bring me something I can't fix." But more so, he wanted to remind others to enjoy the ones they love while they still have the chance, regardless of circumstance.
"Really, the eulogy went together in about one hour," Ed said. "Once I started writing, it flowed easily."
The text of that eulogy, a message Don Tresedder would have appreciated, follows. As for the photos that accompany this piece: "The Model A we rebuilt together," Ed said. "We did get one ride in it together. I wish we had gotten many more."
Eulogy for Don Tresedder
The Don Tresedder I wish to talk about today is the Don Tresedder we learned to love after his stroke almost four years ago.
We all knew the man that existed before then, the hard-working, hard-driving, deal-making man. That man defined Don Tresedder. The man I want to talk about is the man that God left for us to know.
The old Don Tresedder was one that prided himself on being able to do or fix anything. He could take a damaged car or building or motor coach and make it like new and make it profitable.
His stroke in October of 2007 changed all our lives. We prayed that he would live and God granted our prayers. From that time on we were all on new ground.
Early on we could see that dad would never be the same independent man that he was. We knew he would not speak again. He would not walk again.
But what we did not know was that he would will himself to gain what he could. His loving wife never left his side. She never stopped looking him straight in the eye and letting him know that we were going to do our best and she let him know that even though the wonderful life they enjoyed prior to the stroke had ended that she and he could take satisfaction in knowing that they had that time.
They had traveled and visited other areas. They wintered in Texas and developed new friendships. They had lived and danced and traveled. They had each other.
Shortly after his stroke, my sister Maureen said to her husband, Dusty, "I wonder what my dad is thinking." He replied, "I think he is thinking 'I hope my family doesn't let me down.'"
The man that was left now was a man that needed his family and his family responded.
Mom went to see him every day for 1,430 consecutive days, morning and evening. She was there for lunch and bingo and music.
Early on, we would stop in and visit as though it was a normal visit at camp. We would bring beer and watch a Packer game. We would tell him of our day and what we were doing and he always listened most attentively.
Though we thought we were helping him, it became evident that he was helping and teaching us.
We bought a handicap van so we could include dad wherever we were. He would have many days at mom's place where the simplest of pleasures such as a homemade supper could be enjoyed, just the two of them.
He enriched our lives because of his disability. He was always one that needed to be on the move. He loved the company of others and cared not if the recipient of his visit was family or friend. He just enjoyed people.
Some may have thought that the stroke had ended his independence. It did not. His mantra of "Bring me something I cannot fix" was not lost on the ears of his children. We knew that we could fix some of the wrongs caused by that stroke.
We celebrated birthdays and weddings. We went to deer camp. We had family barbecues and drank beer at Chappers Pub. We went ice fishing on Teal Lake. We went to St. Paul's Church and to camp at Crooked Lake and Spruce Lake and Casey Lake and Bass Lake. We went to The Up North Lodge for ribs and chicken and the Peter White Library for old movies and Peterson Auditorium for the Negaunee Male Chorus... and the Venice Supper Club, and Model A meetings, and Bob Saxwold's garage and Denny Stanaway's garage and my garage and the casino in Baraga... and much, much more.
Being in dad's company before his stroke was a commonplace experience. Being in his company after his stroke was an extraordinary experience.
His smile and touch and humor were so much more. His zest for life and human contact were uniquely satisfying.
We did our best for you, dad, and we thank you for the love you gave in return. We love you and will miss you until we meet again.
- Ed Tresedder, Sept. 7, 2011
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.