For man is man and master of his fate. Alfred, Lord Tennyson
…Where’er [he] lie,
Lock’d up from mortal eye,
In shady leaves of destiny. Richard Crashaw
At the conclusion of this extended story of Dr. Gaylord Worstell, questions still remain. As of now, no Worstell immigrant ancestor has been determined. However, the English ancestors of Hiram’s wife Ann Pittis are well identified. From the surviving sons of Hiram are descendants who have shown a propensity for adventure, for personal education, and the strong bonds of family. These have included many educators, professionals of all kinds, farmers, and only a few who haven’t been more than moderately successful.
Gaylord was one of those family members who longed for, sought, and found adventure. He was one of those who went west, west to newly settled areas, and stayed. There were others who went west, gave it their best, then moved on with their lives elsewhere, back to Ohio, or farther west to the cities of the coast.
Like most men, Gaylord set out in search of a good life: a life of intellect and service, of home and family. Yet, as with the “best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,” his pleasures he found in unexpected places, his woes he reaped in tragedy unwanted.
Gaylord’s early post-medical school years were spent on Indian reservations — his personal choice for a life of less stress and new environments, but also to serve a group of people he had come to admire. Then it was on to Iowa. Why did Gaylord not settle permanently in the small town of Knoxville that he admired so much, and where he had family? Was it the rumors of infidelity, as suggested by some, that caused them to move once again? Were the rumors true?
The bonds of family were strong in Gaylord. He eagerly looked forward to returning home to Ohio, home from Kansas, Texas, or Montana. But he sunk his roots in Big Sandy. Big Sandy, where he served the people on the prairie without thought for personal gain or safety. Yet, in his personal relations with the one he loved most, he occasionally lost the fight with the devil in himself, but with his patients, he never gave up in his fight with the angel of death. As he said in his letter of 1933, “I must do my part. I have learned that,‘All who joy would win, must share it, happiness was born a twin,’” so he lived his life.
Through circumstances that brought Gaylord’s son, Richard, back to Big Sandy, Richard was able to know his father through an adult relationship with him. Richard’s opinion of Gaylord was one of great admiration, and as he stated, Gaylord was the “most unforgettable person” he ever met. Richard truly loved his father.
Gaylord suffered the loss of a child, the murder of his wife, the loss of a son to prison, mental institution, and suicide. He experienced scandal, financial loss, loneliness and physical pain. How do we judge Gaylord the man? Fortunately it is not up to us to do that. One western saying puts it this way, “The measure of a man comes in three stripes: how he holds his word, how well he works, and how he treats others.” One thing is certain, Gaylord left his mark on a little bit of Big Sandy history.