Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

One Janesville man's last story

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I scan through The Gazette's obituaries each day even if I don't know the people. I didn't know Donald A. Linneman, nor do I think I've ever met any of his many descendants. His obituary doesn't say what he did for work. Still, I sure know a lot about him after reading his obit in today's Gazette, and I think I would have liked Donald—a lot.

From time to time, I've read an obituary written by the deceased before he or she perished. These, too, can be clever and revealing. I don't think Donald Linneman wrote his own obit. Instead, as a loved one who obviously knew him well wrote: “We were happy to learn many valuable lesson and humorous expressions from this man during his 86 years, all of which we will sing, imitate and retell for generations.”

Among these: “Always attend every casual family get-together, event and holiday well dressed and ready to play cards.”

That tells me Donald understood the importance of making a good impression and enjoyed the lively banter that a good card game often generates. I'm a euchre fan myself, so I can identify with that sentiment.

“Give almost every family member and friend a nickname to display your love and affection for him or her.”

That tells me how much Donald loved his family and friends.

“Never gift your significant other (especially your wife) a popcorn popper.”

I'm guessing either Donald mistakenly did that once, or he was smart enough not to do so. This rule reminds me of the time, back when we were dating, that I (no kidding) gave Cheryl a Shop-Vac for Christmas. It wasn't her only gift, of course, and she needed one, but the look I got told me I went too far with practicality. She still agreed to marry me, but lesson learned.

“Instead of cursing, use the phrase 'Santa Maria La Pinga.'”

I'll try to remember that. I need to break a bad habit.

Many other “lessons” suggest Linneman was a frugal man while revealing morsels of that aforementioned wit: “Only a fourth of your income should be designated for rent or mortgage payments. Comb the newspaper for coupons and visit multiple stores for deals on groceries and other items. Set the thermometer at a low temperature and turn the lights off to decrease your bill amounts (but try to do it when company is not there). Squeeze a nickel until the buffalo sh**ts. Everything in moderation and nothing in excess.”

I appreciate those suggestions. Of course, from time to time, I've been accused of having a squeaky wallet (unfairly, I might add). If everyone followed “Linneman's lessons,” most of us no doubt would lead happier lives, and fewer among us would find ourselves in financial pickles.

Thanks go to the Linneman family for sharing so many great insights into a life obviously well lived.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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