Goessel grad wrote book about great-grandfather

Braylyn Hoopes (on right) wrote a book about her great-grandfather Dwight (on left) so the family could have his story and learn about his life.

Braylyn Hoopes, who recently graduated from Goessel High School has accomplished more than many her age have.

In addition to playing sports, participating in various activities, being a student and all that comes with it during her high school years, Hoopes wrote a book about her great-grandfather, her dad’s grandfather.

“Grandpa was a quiet farmer who sat in his chair at family gatherings and rarely talked about himself or his experiences,” said Hoopes. “He would ask us questions about how our sports are doing and all that stuff. But we never asked him questions or knew much about his life.”

Hoopes had written a few articles for the Free Press during COVID-19 when youth were asked to submit writings. Her great-grandmother knew Hoopes enjoyed writing and asked her if she would write a short article for the family about her great-grandpa Dwight.

“In the fall of 2021, I met with Grandpa and interviewed him. I had a ton of questions because I really didn’t know much about him. We just talked for hours about his life and the experiences he had. And so I took notes, and then I had all the stuff that eventually turned into a book,” said Hoopes.

Hoopes enjoyed learning so much about her great-grandfather.

“It was crazy because I knew he grew up in Kansas and some little details, but I hadn’t heard the stories of the way he lived his life back then. It was just amazing and really eye-opening to learn so much about him,” said Hoopes.

Hoopes said the biggest thing she learned from him was how humble he was and that he was a hard worker.

“He worked every day of his life. I heard about how, when he was little, they had to go get water, because they didn’t have running water in their home. And then he told me about when he got older and how he met my Grandma Shirlee. He told me how through all of his life, he always wanted to farm,” said Hoopes. “And that was what he did. He worked so hard to where he was at and basically started our family.”

Later that year, her dad helped her to publish the book, and they gave copies to the rest of the family.

“So then everyone knew a little bit more about him, and I was able to spread that and share the truth about the cool man that he was that no one really knew,” said Hoopes.

Her family had a very positive response to the book.

“They absolutely loved it. It made my great-grandma so happy. I knew she would love it but I had no idea how much the family would love it,” said Hoopes.

“It is an absolutely incredible book and what a blessing it was for our family. We are very proud of her and thankful for this awesome story she told in her writing,” added dad Ryan Hoopes.

In addition to writing down the information in a book, Hoopes recorded the information by camera and now cherishes what she was able to capture.

“I really enjoyed just being able to talk to him because it was always kind of awkward talking to him— he was older and the silent type of guy. It feels good to have captured that wholesome conversation about what his life truly was and what he wanted for us in the future,” said Hoopes.

Braylyn Hoopes interviews her great-grandfather about his life. She set out to write an article about him but ended up writing an entire book.

The project ended up becoming even more meaningful to Hoopes and her family when her great-grandfather was diagnosed with cancer shortly after she finished the book. He soon died after his diagnosis.

“When I had first started the project and started interviewing him, we had no idea that he would end up getting diagnosed with cancer and dying. But thankfully we now have this book. I got close to him writing the book and then he was gone so quickly. That was pretty hard, but it was also cool to have had that experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” said Hoopes.

Hoopes doesn’t have any more writing plans for now, but she has thought about visiting with people in nursing homes now to hear their stories.

She is also preparing to start college in the fall. She plans to attend online for a year to get her general education requirements out of the way. After that she plans to transfer into Wichita State University’s teaching program and become a kindergarten teacher.

Regardless of what Hoopes does in the future, she will always be thankful for the experience of writing her book.

“It was very eye-opening. It was definitely a godsend that I was able to do this before we ran out of time with him. My family and I are very grateful for that opportunity. And even though it made losing him probably a little bit harder, it definitely made his life and what he wanted for us more special and a bigger impact on us than it originally had,” said Hoopes.

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