The understated beauty of success

Column by Joe Webb
Posted 7/14/21

My great-grandparents were an impressive and formidable couple. I never had the good fortune of meeting them, but I wish I had. They were immigrants from Ireland to the United States in the 1880s, …

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The understated beauty of success

Posted

My great-grandparents were an impressive and formidable couple. I never had the good fortune of meeting them, but I wish I had.

They were immigrants from Ireland to the United States in the 1880s, and what they did was take advantage of the blessings and opportunity that America offers everyone. They settled first in Milwaukee followed by Cleveland and ultimately lived in a suburb of Philadelphia — Bridgeport, Pennsylvania.

My great-grandfather worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad while my great-grandmother stayed at home to take care of the large brood of children they had.

What they both did was work hard and sacrifice for their family. Those sacrifices paid off in ways both large and small over the years.

In the 1890s, an immigrant couple from Ireland was able to purchase their own home and with luck and persistence pay it off completely. Their 10 surviving children inherited it equally when they passed away. The only provision in the will I am told was that any child could return to that home if they needed to do so.

Over the years some did. That is because my great-grandparents knew that life had the potential for downsides. When some children were orphaned during the Spanish flu pandemic, my great-grandmother took them in and reared them as if they were her own rather than having them sent to an orphanage.

That is someone with an open heart and generous spirit. My family members were pillars of that community to such an extent that two of my great-grandparents’ children were elected mayor. Later on in life, my great-grandmother lent a young man $500 during the Great Depression, so he could start his own business.

That young man, my grandfather, wanted to marry my great-grandmother’s daughter, my grandmother, and he did. My great-grandmother rolled the dice on a young man she thought was a worthy bet. It paid off with a new family that had a new story because an older lady decided to pay forward the blessings that she had received a long time ago.

The America of my great-grandparents and my grandparents is still here in 2021. It persists despite all of the real problems that exist in our time as well as manufactured problems that others bring about.

My grandfather could have failed and lost my great-grandmother’s money. But it didn’t happen. Success is boring, understated and quiet. Success just delivers.

In contrast, failure is a trainwreck that people find easier to view, watch and have conversations. America’s many individual successes are extraordinary because they are just ordinary in America.

Success happens more often than not in the United States of America, and that success makes our country the greatest continuing human success story on planet Earth.

Joe Webb is the former chairman of the Jeffco Republican party.

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