There will never be another one like him… one of a kind. Those are a few phrases that others have used to describe my father-in-law Ennis Unruh, who died this past week. I agree completely with those sentiments.
I have known him for three-fourths of my life and for more than half of his—and he was always very good to me.
When I first met him as a 17-year-old, I was a bit intimidated. I was really only interested in his daughter then. The fear soon went away and I was always welcomed at the Unruh household in the early days—just as long as I didn’t stay too late.
He was a self-made man and wasn’t afraid to try anything. I admired those qualities. He knew when to hold them and when to fold them.
He was a charter member of the Hillsboro American Legion Post 366 and gave a lot of time and effort to that organization.
Golf was a passion and he was involved in most of the upgrades that have happened at the municipal golf course through the years, including grass greens and later, watered fairways. Several years ago he received a lifetime membership to the Hillsboro Golf Association in recognition for all of his years of dedicated service to the club.
I always thought he had it made with his rural mail carrier route. He finished at noon almost every day. The weather didn’t always cooperate and neither did the nails and rocks in the road that caused numerous flats or low tires. He had an air bubble tank in the trunk to fill up a low tire until he could get back to town and have it fixed.
For many years, the Unruhs spent the winters in California or occasionally in Florida. Golf was the draw as well as the weather. He played on golf courses on a daily basis that many guys only dream about.
One winter they decided to purchase a travel trailer, but he didn’t have patience for pulling it. They got as far as Biloxi and parked it there for the winter until they picked it up on the way back to Kansas. It was sold shortly after that.
He told me you can rent a lot of motel rooms for the cost of one of those blankety-blank things.
He came out of retirement after the mail route and became an insurance adjuster for about 10 years, traveling the country following the aftermath of hurricanes and damaging storms. He was well-suited for this work from his experience with real estate investments and remodels.
He graciously included me in his golfing fun. When we first moved back to Hillsboro in the late ’70s, I took up serious golfing, too. When I was on his team we won way more than we lost, including a few side bets that made it even more interesting and competitive.
Ennis also loved cars and had a list of every vehicle (for the road or collectible) he owned, including the dates and price paid.
I especially liked the Cadillacs and was given the opportunity to drive them many times. We used to put them in neutral a mile south on the 13-mile road and coast all of the way to D Street.
He purchased the old pool hall downtown and re-made it into the Sportsman, including a nice apartment in the back with a beauty shop downstairs for my mom-in-law.
Sadly, good things come to an end. Watching a fun-loving husband, father, grandpa, brother and uncle walk down a path of clouded perceptions and reality caused by dementia is really hard. We’re thankful for the Bethesda Special Care Unit in Goessel and the good people there.
Ennis Unruh meant very much to us and it is difficult for our whole family to say good-bye. At this time we are flooded with wonderful memories of a life lived to the fullest.