By Margie Wuebker
Little Charles Isaac Routt had an opportunity to meet his great-grandfather Charles W. Beougher in spirit earlier this month at North Grove Cemetery.
The baby, who turns a month old today, slept peacefully as his father, former Rockford-area resident Josh Routt, spoke lovingly about the longtime farmer who died July 1 doing what he loved most -- working the Dublin Township land he had owned for nearly half a century.
Routt and his wife, Niki, were at the Beougher farm that July day helping the 6-foot, 3-inch farmer bring in the last of the wheat crop -- one he proudly described as the best ever.
The heavy construction worker had a day off work and decided to use it to help grandpa, something the other grandchildren also looked forward to doing as their schedules permitted.
Niki Routt, who was three weeks away from her due date, decided to tag along. Something made her go back into the house as they prepared to leave. She returned with a 35-mm camera as well as a video camera. "Josh took over in the combine and I rode in the tractor cab with grandpa as he took the wagons to the elevator," she recalls. "He talked the entire way about who owned the land and how much they had paid for it. He never ran out of words, now I wish I had listened closer."
The 81-year-old farmer knew everyone at the elevator and they knew him. Customers were quickly apprised that his grandson was running the 850 Massey Ferguson combine and that his companion for the day was to give birth soon to a baby boy named Isaac Charles.
Josh Routt stopped the combine as he saw his grandfather and wife returning from the elevator. He replaced the empty wagons with two filled ones and Beougher pulled from the field. He was back a short time later without the wagons, explaining one had a flat tire.
The video Niki Routt shot that day shows Beougher explaining in explicit detail to his grandson how to change the tire and what tools he would need. The young man, who is nearly as tall as his grandfather, stood there nodding as the veteran farmer talked and gestured in familiar fashion.
It didn't matter that Josh Routt had torn tractors apart and put them back together numerous times. The older man continued the lengthy description totally oblivious that his words were being captured for posterity.
With several rows remaining to harvest, Beougher climbed into the combine cab and took off. The Routts headed first to the parked wagons to change the flat tire. They returned 15 to 20 minutes later.
"I kept looking over the field expecting to see grandpa because he didn't have much to combine," Josh Routt recalls. "He wasn't by the wagons; he wasn't anywhere. That's when I saw the combine in the ditch."
He pulled Beougher's pickup truck to the side of the road and saw the farmer slumped over the wheel. He had managed to hit the kill switch before collapsing. The Routts checked on him and she ran back to the pickup truck and retrieved grandpa's cell phone from the dash. She ran to the intersection so she could provide 911 dispatchers with the name.
"I had never been on the road before," she recalls. "Josh picked me up and we went back up the combine to grandpa."
The pregnant woman did not detect a pulse and attempted to bring him back with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. As the ambulance approached relief coursed through her veins, she said.
Josh Routt lifted his grandfather from the cab and laid him on the deck, making it easier for emergency medical technicians to work over the still figure.
"I told Josh if grandpa goes today, he will go a happy man," Romola 'Molly' Beougher recalls. "Josh and Niki did all they could. Thank heavens they were there with grandpa ... he wasn't alone for long."
The widow, who still finds it difficult to adjust to her husband's absence.
"He loved children," she says. "His nine grandchildren could do no wrong and neither could the great-grandchildren. Our granddaughter (Jennie Armstrong) spent several months next door with her mom and dad after the birth of little Jace Charles. Charlie kept slipping over there for this reason and that reason, but I knew he just wanted to hold the baby."
His excitement over the birth of another namesake increased as the anticipated date of Isaac Charles' arrival neared. The decision to switch the order of the names came as family members prepared for the funeral.
"I thought grandpa would like that and so did Josh," the proud mother says. "Josh wants him to grow up to be a farmer. I don't really care. We want him to be like the man he is named for -- someone who cares about others and someone who can talk to anybody at the drop of a hat."
"Taking the baby there (to the cemetery plot) made me feel better," he says. "I feel in my heart grandpa knows all about our baby. I will make sure he knows all about grandpa in the years ahead."