GREENVILLE - Darke County Engineer Jim Surber’s father, Maynard, is the focal point of a book that has been published by Amazon and available on Kindle.
But most importantly, the book, titled “Steady as a Rock, the Maynard Surber Story,” will be ready in time to be shared at this year’s Surber family reunion.
Author of the book is journalist Pat Lawrence, who wrote “The House That Mary Built for Mary Wolfe.”
She was contacted by Connie Surber, Maynard’s daughter-in-law and Jim’s sister-in-law.
“I convinced her [Lawrence] on the project,” said Connie. “First though, I had to convince Maynard. He was 92 and in poor health, but he finally agreed after the grandchildren got after him!”
Only a couple of months into the interviews, Maynard passed away. Lawrence assumed that was it, the project was over. But losing Maynard just made Connie even more determined to get it done.
Maynard had made tapes in the 1980s of much of his military experience and he kept a lot of the documents and logs from that time.
“He had an incredible memory and a great eye for detail,” Connie said. “Almost all of the book is in Maynard’s own words, from our interviews, his tapes, his diaries or quotes from people who knew him. The family had pictures from Maynard’s childhood and some from the war and lots of stories from his two sons, Jim Surber and John, my husband.”
It was noted that like many American men of his generation, Maynard Surber left his home, farm and family for the fronts of World War II but Maynard returned intact, with both his work ethic and his sense of purpose firmly entrenched. His life was an American story of commitment to family, community, country and the land that was the cornerstone of it all.
“When he died last year, it was hard for the family to say good-bye, but Connie Surber found the perfect way to remember the special man that was her father-in-law,” Lawrence said.
Connie said, “I remembered reading in the paper about a local woman who had her life story written and made into a book written by a local writer. Maynard was such an interesting man, a big reader himself and everyone loved his stories so I thought a book about his life would be just the way to honor him.”
Jim Surber has been the county engineer in Darke County for the past 35 years but he grew up on the Surber family farm outside of Hillsboro.
“Dad always made it clear that he didn’t intend for us to stay on the farm with him, that he expected us to find our own place in life,” said Jim, whose lives in the Greenville area with wife Carla.
Many of their friends knew Maynard and attended his funeral.
Connie and John, Maynard’s youngest son, live outside of Sabina where their agricultural businesses are centered.
“The Surber homestead has been in the family since 1797, so there’s plenty of history there,” said Lawrence. “After the farm was recognized as a Centennial Farm, Maynard had an engraved stone made for the property, which is on the cover of the book. He spent most of the war in Europe and he described a lot of French places and specific events. To verify some of them, I eventually had to speak with the French embassy. The war was, perhaps, the most memorable part of his life, but the wonderful accounts of daily life from decades ago and the relationship between Maynard and his wife Isabelle were especially charming to me.”
“Maynard was always such a presence, and he did so much and knew so much,” Connie concluded. “He was interesting and funny and really was steady as a rock. We wanted our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to see him the way we did. Plus, getting the book done helped us remember him in so many ways-going through the pictures and picking out which ones to use, going through Isabelle’s favorite recipes, sharing each other’s favorite memories and writing down just the way we felt. It was such a positive way to say good-bye to an amazing man. And now, we have it all in print for the next generations to see,”