Jon "Joe" Kammerdiener 1940–2016

Let Me Go Gently

Written and Read by

Helen (Kammerdiener) Toy

Let me go gently into the dark unknown;

Let me step softly into the shades of night.

Call me not back with piteous cries of woe –

‘Tis but a step from here to realms of light.

Wrest me not from my solitary journey.

Cling not to me with pain-filled grasp.

Where I go now, you too, someday will follow.

In Heaven’s time each soul goes home at last.

Let me go gently from this pained existence;

Let me move on to better, brighter things.

Call me not back. Don’t anchor me to earth.

I long to fly! My spirit yearns for wings.

Let me go gently into this dark passage –

I would not choose to leave you had I choice –

But life and death are not ours for the choosing,

And though tears fall, my heart must still rejoice.

Love will not die with death – It gains its freedom.

And though I leave you, I’m not wholly gone.

My love will linger with you as a memory

And someday lead you to my own heart’s home.

Cling not so tightly to this tired body.

Don’t hold me fast with wires, tubes, and chains.

Let me go gently on my heavenly journey,

And when your heart aches, rest within God’s arms.

Jon "Joe" Kammerdiener

An amazing man! Seemed to always know

Just what to do and where to go.

His skills were tested many a time

When the boat wouldn’t start or we broke a line,

Or the house roof leaked, or the furnace clanged,

Or the water dripped, or the shutter banged.

He helped buy houses and sell them, too.

There was very little he couldn’t do.

He could find good motels and plan the route;

He knew what to do if the lights went out.

Mechanic, carpenter, electrician, and guide,

Home inspector, reader, and hunter inside

Of a man with a smile and a wink and a nod

And a steadfast faith in a loving God.

We leaned on him, and he helped us through

All those years gone by while we never knew

That the time would come when we’d hold his hand

And say, “Good-bye.” That was never planned.

What a loving man! What a caring heart!

How we’d hoped we never would have to part,

But we’ll look for his smile in the azure sky,

Find his laughter among the butterflies,

Hear his voice in the gentle summer breeze,

And see his shadow among the trees.

Husband, father, brother, friend,

Such love lives on; it can never end.

A son's Reflection

Jason Kammerdiener

If you knew my dad, you know that he loved to tell stories — it was one of his favorite things to do. Being his son, I swear I heard them all a million times, and quite frankly it often drove me nuts. Nevertheless, my biggest nightmare has always been the day I’d stop hearing them.

Even now, having only had a short time to look back on Dad’s stories from this strange new paradigm where they aren’t simply a phone call away, I see that they had a range I never appreciated.

Sometimes it felt like he must be telling the same three stories over and over and over again. But he really had quite a repertoire: about parents, his siblings, his children, his colleagues, his clients, his pets, sports teams, American history, technological change — you name it.

  • See a big dog? — He’ll tell you about the clients that drove from Alaska with two great danes and an infant in the back.
  • See a smart dog? — A story about how his “Rusty dog” could escape from absolutely anything.
  • Feeling cold in the house? — “When I was growing up, we heated the house with a coal stove that would go cold overnight…”
  • Smell something good cooking? — As a Xerox field technician, one of the clients he serviced was an incredible-smelling candy and nut factory that treated him to big boxes of samples.
  • See cool wildlife? — Visiting his friend Suzy in Maine, he encountered such exotic wildlife as owls… in her bathroom!
  • Marveling at modern medicine? — When he was in high school he had spinal meningitis, and they had to burn all his belongings, including an early Superman comic.
  • Is your watch reflecting light on the ceiling? — When my cousins were younger he used to fascinate them with the magical “thingy” darting around on the ceiling.

If it were almost anyone else, I might have seen these stories as some sort of “one-upsmanship.” But with Dad, it was different.

It was almost his way of saying, “I know what you mean. I’ve been there.” Because he had, in fact, been there. In his lifetime, he simply had a lot of incredible experiences.

  • He was born into a coal-miner’s family with strong values, and that made ends meet by growing and hunting some of their own food.
  • He worked on his sister’s chicken farm when he was in high school.
  • He earned a degree in electrical engineering.
  • He was an employee with Xerox in its heyday, for whom he moved several different times within the United States, traveled to Japan, and even moved his family to Holland for a year.
  • He raised four children at two very different stages of life.
  • He left the corporate world and opened his own “mom and pop shop.”
  • He studied and worked to become a realtor, and eventually became broker/owner of his own RE/MAX franchise.
  • He fished, hunted, bowled, played softball, hiked, camped, boated, and could fix anything — though he didn’t always make it look pretty.

With all of those experiences to draw upon, is it really any wonder that he had a story to tell in almost every situation? And wouldn’t it have been foolish of all of us — his family and friends — to ignore the lessons he learned along the way?

Dad wasn’t a man without fault, despite the impression you might get from many of the stories he told. He was stubborn, and he could sometimes have thin skin — I can say this because often I see the same traits in myself.

But he had so, so many incredible qualities: he was caring, he was gentle, he was honest, he was fair, he was friendly. And he taught us those qualities through his stories. From him I learned that ultimately you are responsible for your own success or failure. I learned to dust myself off if something did not go my way. To appreciate the wealth of family and friends that I have.

And I think more than anything, he taught us all to be fair. Regardless of formal obligations, legal requirements, or societal expectations, there is simply a right way to do things. There is a right way to treat people.

I don’t know if he can hear us now, but if so, I want you to know, Dad, that I heard you. And I will do everything I can to treat everyone with the kindness and thoughtfulness with which you treated me.

I love you.

A Loving Wife

Cindy Kammerdiener

When people talk about Jon, they use words like honest, kind, trusted, respected, a family man. Jon was all of these. To his family in PA, he was “Joe”, to kids he knew he was often “Mr K”, to his children “Dad” and to his grandchildren “Grandpa”. He was a loving husband, a devoted father, a caring brother, uncle, grandfather and great grandfather. He asked me what attracted a Long Island girl like me to a country guy like him… it was his gentle, caring nature, which never wavered over our 35 years of marriage.

Jon was raised in Western PA. He told his kids lots of stories about growing up in a coal mining family. He attended a two room primary school. His home didn’t have electricity when he was young, and the bathroom was outside and down the path. He loved to reminisce about these times. We heard of his high school running career, his time living with his sister and brother-in-law and working on their poultry farm, his fishing adventures. We heard many stories, in fact, some stories we heard many times!

Jon also created new memories. For Shawn and Heidi, there was the experience of living in Holland and traveling in Europe. For Leah and Jason, there were memories of our adventures together. Summers up at Green Shingle Lodge, camping trips with the motor home, visiting various cities around the country for RE/MAX conventions, and campfires on Seneca Lake.

Jon worked for Xerox for many years, starting as a service technician in Detroit, moving to Indiana and then to Rochester. When he left Xerox, he went into Real Estate. We moved to Virginia for several years where he owned a convenience store he renamed Mom and Pop’s. It suited Jon well. Although he was a quiet man, he enjoyed people and liked to start up conversations with local customers. We moved back to Rochester, where Jon resumed his Real Estate career and eventually opened his own Real Estate office, RE/MAX Eastview. Owning his own business both here and in Virginia were highlights of his professional career. He served for several years on the Real Estate Board Ethics committee, a testament to how he conducted his business and personal life and how he was viewed by others.

Jon was a quiet person, but he was a people person. He enjoyed the times he spent with others, whether it was with his bowling league, Euchre games, cooking large breakfasts for the extended family, apple picking with friends, the Super Bowl parties we used to host, or inviting friends down to the lake.

He was also a kid magnet. He loved kids and used to engage them in restaurants, on line in Wegmans, just about anywhere- and kids naturally gravitated and responded to him.

Jon was also someone who didn’t like attention to necessarily be focused on him. We are all here today because we know how special he was, warm, caring, kind and generous. He was always concerned about others, so Jon would want me to use this time to let you know how important you were to him.

To his friends from his Xerox days, Jon shared many fun filled stories of your softball games and Xerox parties which he told for years.

To his colleagues from RE/MAX Eastview, he was truly honored that you chose to be part of his office — and he said that often. You were a very special group to him. Your relationship extended beyond business as many of you became close friends. You should know you did for him, as much as he did for you.

To our neighbors, from early on, Jon and I had different views about where we should live, reflecting our different backgrounds. Jon would have liked to live on acres out in the country, and I wanted a suburban neighborhood. As he liked to say about real estate transactions… the wife usually wins. Jon would say how lucky we were to have such nice neighbors. He enjoyed watching the neighborhood kids grow up, chatting with them as he walked his dog around the block, then later helping some of them buy their first homes and then even getting to engage with their children, the next generation.

To our friends, Jon loved getting together with all of you. You were the balance in our lives. We are very family oriented, and we got to share and create experiences with you and your families. Our children call you some of you Aunt and Uncle, a testament to the closeness we have. He looked forward to having you down to the lake, or over to the house for a meal and you have always been there for him and for me. You have supported me through the past 2 years, and we will both be eternally grateful for that. We thank you and love you.

Friends are forever.

To Jon’s family from PA, although his driver’s license has said New York for many years, his heart was always back in PA with all of you. He looked forward to going back and hunting and gathering with the big family back in the house in Putneyville. You were constantly in his thoughts. As he used to say, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.

To the NY, FL and CO side of the family, Jon enjoyed all our visits, watching the nieces and nephews grow up and being part of our amazing family.

To Shawn, your father was so proud of you. He always said what a good kid you were- really meaning what a fine adult you have become, but to him you were still his kid. He looked forward to your visits and the nights you would go out to dinner together. He knew he could count on you for anything, and you never let him down. You are a wonderful son.

To Heidi, I don’t think anything could have lifted Dad’s spirits more than your visits during his time in the hospital. Know that you and your family being there gave him immense happiness and peace.

To Leah, I remember when you were born. Dad held you up at the hospital in one hand and told you that you were going to grow up to be an ambassador to Ireland. We all know that he was wrong in that prophecy, but he is very proud of all you have accomplished as his Docta Dawter. You had a very special bond, sharing your bumming days together as you drove around running errands or stopping at garage sales, your lunch dates, and your vacation together to VA. You are and always will be his little girl and he will always be looking after you.

To Jason, for years dad was the 2-headed man, carrying you around on his shoulders. Often he did it because he enjoyed it, more than you really needed a break from walking. He is so impressed by the adult you have become, your intelligence and your kindness. I’m not sure he realized that he was looking at a reflection of himself. Your trip together in England was very special to him, two history buffs and two very special people getting time together. I don’t think I have ever seen him enjoy himself more than at your wedding to Katie. He adores you Katie, as we all do, and it was a day for nothing but smiles and celebration.

To everyone here, we had a good life with Jon. A life of memories that he will now share and reminisce with others up in heaven until we are able to join him and create new memories together again. Love you Jon, always.

From His Eldest Son

Shawn Kammerdiener

I want to tell a story of my dad when he was a teenager because it is one of my favorites, and I was reminded of it by my cousin very recently, and it was totally my father and how he loved little children.

My dad lived with his older sister Charlotte and my uncle Quay when he was 17 and worked on their poultry farm. His bedroom was up in the attic, which was very cold during winter because it wasn't insulated. Half the attic was his room and the other half was storage. With 2 little girls in the house he had no almost no privacy but he did not care.

Karen and Verna would sneak up there any chance they got to be with him if he was there or hide pictures and notes or scribbles, ( they didn't read or write then) to tell him how great he was and how much they loved him. He would take some of his pay and buy a bag of jelly beans which he would hide in their stored Easter baskets in the attic. He would only hide 2 or 3 at a time, which made Karen and Verna think "oh look a jelly bean, I must have missed it at Easter". Funny thing was they were always fresh and every time they searched they would find more. He delighted in watching them search for the jelly beans and thinking that they had miraculously found some more, while keeping his little secret of where they were coming from.

Dad loved little kids, he was like a moth to a flame whenever little ones were around. He doted on them and flirted with them whenever he could, and it didn’t matter where or when he could pick out a little one from far away. He would sometimes embarrass us with his antics to get them to give him a smile by waving and flirting across a whole restaurant or store, but he just adored little children.

Dad knew a secret that I will share with you. When you are loved by a little child with a beaming smile or a hug you are in that instant in a special state of grace and given a reminder of how purely we are all loved by our creator.

"When All that's Left is Love"

Read by Shawn Kammerdiener

When I die

If you need to weep

Cry for someone

Walking the street beside you.

You can love me most by letting

Hands touch hands, and Souls touch souls.

You can love me most by

Sharing your goodness and

Multiplying your acts of kindness.

You can love me most by

Letting me live in your eyes

And not on your mind.

And when you say Prayers for me

Remember what our

God teaches,

Love doesn’t die People do.

So when all that’s left of me is love

Give me away.

- By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Lovely Daughters

Heidi Youngman

Leah Kammerdiener

Created By
Jason Kammerdiener
Appreciate

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