When he worked at Simmons Moving & Storage in the early 1990s, a heavy crate fell 6 feet onto Terry Leon Blumer. It crushed his bottom half and broke bones in his hips and legs, his granddaughter April Blumer said.
Even worse was that it happened on his anniversary. His wife, Barbara, had forgotten about the day in wake of the accident.
Mr. Blumer did not.
As he lay on the stretcher to go to the hospital, he gave his credit card to his daughter Betty to buy a necklace for his wife, granddaughter April Blumer said.
"He was tough as nails," April Blumer said of her grandfather's attitude after his accident. "His spirit wasn't changed at all."
Mr. Blumer died Sunday, March 17, 2013. He was 80.
He was born June 8, 1932, in Columbia. He and his seven siblings grew up in Columbia during the Great Depression. Mr. Blumer's brother Ronnie Blumer said they weren't the most disciplined children in Columbia. They stole some of their father's cigarettes and shot craps in alleys.
After school, Ronnie Blumer joined the Army and served in Korea. Mr. Blumer followed and became a Marine two years later.
Ronnie Blumer had no idea his brother enlisted until a young man with a handlebar mustache yelled, "Hey, you sucker!" in a supply depot in Korea. Mr. Blumer hugged his brother. It was the first time they'd seen each other in two years.
It was a "miracle meeting" that only lasted for 15 minutes, Ronnie Blumer said. The brothers would go another 14 years without seeing each other, since Mr. Blumer moved back to the U.S. while his brother stayed in the military.
After meeting his wife, Barbara, while working in a factory in Chicago, Mr. Blumer and Barbara moved back to Columbia where he worked with Simmons Moving & Storage until 1992, when his accident forced him to retire. He also delivered milk for Central Dairy, gaining notoriety in Columbia restaurant circles, especially at G&D Steakhouse, Ronnie Blumer said.
Barbara died about seven years ago, Ronnie Blumer said, right after the couple's 50th wedding anniversary.
Mr. Blumer enjoyed many outdoor activities: fishing, golf, trap shooting, hunting and mushroom hunting. He was also a handy mechanic. Ronnie Blumer once gave him his old Volkswagen Beetle. Mr. Blumer stripped off its fenders and added bigger wheels, turning it into a dune buggy.
April Blumer said her grandfather was a man who spoke his mind, even if he was being hurtful. She said he never said anything wrong but could be brutally honest.
"After a while, you'd realize it's just him being him," she said. "The harder time he gave you, the more he liked you."
Ronnie Blumer also knew Mr. Blumer's brash nature. Once while golfing, Mr. Blumer mistakenly cut in front of a group, prompting a "big guy" to run up to him asking for a fight, Ronnie Blumer said.
But Mr. Blumer grabbed a two-iron and shouted, "Come on!" They didn't fight, but Ronnie Blumer saw the no-nonsense attitude his brother developed as a Marine.
"He never held any punches," Ronnie Blumer said. "Every once in a while, words would come out of his mouth that you wouldn't like, but they came from Terry. He was who he was until the bitter end."
As a grandfather, Mr. Blumer was protective and caring.
"He was like everything to me," April Blumer said. "To me, as a kid, he was my knight in shining armor."
April Blumer said she went over to her grandparents' house often to seek refuge from her sisters. She said Mr. Blumer was always there for her, even if all they would do was watch TV.
April Blumer went back to school at Moberly Area Community College in 2010. When she talked about quitting soon after, her grandfather said he'd "kick my ass" if she did. However, when Mr. Blumer's condition worsened last November, April Blumer took the semester off.
"I'm going back because I know he's still watching me," she said.
Mr. Blumer is survived by his two brothers, Ronnie Blumer of Columbia and Donnie Blumer of Fulton; three daughters, Betty Barfield and Deborah Watson of Columbia and Tina Blumer of Harrisburg; five grandchildren, April Blumer, Jennifer Hammonds, Cody Mortica and Katie and Aaron Barfield; seven great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.
His wife Barbara Blumer, his parents, grandparents, three sisters, two brothers and one daughter died earlier.
A private family visitation will be from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Funeral Home. A burial will follow with full military honors at Memorial Park Cemetery.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Gateway Chapter, 77 West Port Plaza, Suite 480, St. Louis, MO 63146.
Tributes can be posted at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.