'Grandpa Tootsie Roll' demonstrated sharing joy

Saturday , October 28, 2017 - 7:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

I heard a story about a man who had every reason to be lonely.

His children were grown and gone and his wife had died painfully from cancer.

The Price man was left a widower for 16 years.

And yet, he found joy.

Delbert Petersen, who became known as the Grandpa Tootsie Roll to many, found joy in one simple magic trick — taking Tootsie Rolls out of children’s ears.

And sometimes, when he found some sad adults, he found Tootsie Rolls in their ears too.

This was the story I heard from Petersen’s daughter, Connie Snow, of the Roy 17th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was speaking at a church meeting for the residents of the Heritage Park Care Center in Roy.

I was touched by her story of how she, three sisters and a brother found Tootsie Rolls in nearly every pocket of Petersen’s clothing when he died recently at 86.

“I’ll bet he gave Tootsie Rolls every single day,” she said, recalling how he brought joy to all those around him.

Story continues below photo.

In her talk, Snow said being happy and grateful are choices people can make no matter their circumstances.

I’ve heard of no better example than the “Grandpa Tootsie Roll” story of the scripture found in Philemon 1:7.

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people,” reads the scripture in the New International Version of the Bible.

At her father’s passing, she said hundreds filed by his casket, many of them children, depositing Tootsie Rolls next to his side.

I believe their gifts echoed the sentiments of refreshed hearts, as spoken of in that verse.

Petersen seems to be the embodiment one who knew Jesus Christ and celebrated in sharing his joy for such knowledge throughout his life.

Such a life is explained in 1 Peter 1:8-9.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him,” reads the English Standard Version of that Bible scripture. “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

I am not good at magic like the Tootsie Roll Grandpa, but I hope now that I have heard his story that I will be more willing to share joy with others and live my life in such a way that others benefit from my presence. 

I invite you to do the same.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.  

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