Joan Kroc with granddaughter Amanda sitting down

My grandma’s love

Joan Kroc’s granddaughter shares a personal letter from her grandma.

Joan Kroc with granddaughter, Amanda, circa 1998.

Joan Kroc with granddaughter, Amanda, circa 1998.

I am extremely proud to express my love and admiration for my Grandma Joan. I remember it like it was yesterday when she surprised the people of The Salvation Army, the media, and our family when she crawled in the bulldozer at the groundbreaking of the first opening of the center in San Diego.

The next day, the front page in the San Diego Tribune read, “Billionaire Kroc climbs in the bulldozer for the groundbreaking!” From that day, she was counting down to when the center would be available for these wonderful families and children. I was with her the night before the opening and it was like Christmas Eve for my grandma!

I have attended most of the openings around the country in the last few years. When I speak, I often tell the story of a homeless man she helped feel loved and accepted. Grandma and I were heading out of town on a trip together. We were pulling in to the airport when she saw a man with his head in a trash can.

As we pulled up to the gate, my grandma said to me, “Honey, roll down the window.” I rolled it down and she said to the man, “Yoo hoo, honey.” The man turned around in disbelief that someone noticed him. She said, “Come over here.” He slowly walked over to her, she took his hand and looked him in the eyes. She gave him money and said, “Now go get cleaned up and get some food.”

I believe for once this man felt that someone was not just giving him money. His facial expression said that he felt someone really cared and accepted him for where he was in his life at that moment. When Grandma Joan and I got on the plane, she looked at me and said, “Honey, we are not sure what he will use the money for, but whatever it is, for one moment at least, he felt that someone really cared.” I will never forget that day. She had such compassion for people.

On the day of the opening of the first Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, she was beaming with joy. Grandma spoke with pride and hope in front of the community. She was able to see the beauty of the center. I can honestly say that she felt that her dream came true. She spoke to the community of San Diego with appreciation for the many people that would be able to enjoy and benefit from the facility.

My grandma wrote this letter to me when I turned 21, and I would like to share it with you:

My Dearest Amanda,

You are only a few short days of your 21st birthday. May love and happiness attend you wherever you go and may you be blessed with many loyal friends.

As you approach adulthood you already realize that many joys and some disappointments will come to you on life’s journey. You can learn to fortify yourself for whatever life holds by thinking pure and positive thoughts.

Remember the men and women who accomplish things in this world today are those who remain strong in the face of adversity and vow not to be defeated. You will be amazed and delighted with the happiness that can come from the most unexpected sources.

Be a carrier of joy, dear Amanda. Your name is one of grace and cheer and you are by nature a giver of love. Don’t ever be embarrassed to receive it.

Jesus asks us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I want you to believe that a life of service is a happy one to lead. Serve others joyously and your reward will be great; carry with you the message of charity and brotherly love.

Love your fellow man—keep hate out of your soul. It has soured the lives of many who could have been messengers of joy.

Read good books and think deeply about what you read.

You will find that when all have failed to please you and your soul is tired and hungry for sympathy, joy may be found between the covers of a good book.

Fortunately, you are living in the “age of women,” therefore, I ask of you—amount to something.

Vow to be more than a parlor ornament; vow to be something that will place your name among the annals of the givers. You possess the talents far above those possessed by the average young woman. Develop them; let your light shine as a beacon to guide others unto the path of serenity and stewardship.

Dream of great things to come and vow to be ready to receive them when they do come.

Be just, be generous, be kind to those around you so that when dark comes you will have plenty of friends that will help you bear your troubles.

Your Grandma Joan loves you dearly. I am ambitious for you and will help you as far as you will let me.

May God bless my dear Amanda and keep her strong in body mind and spirit. He will help you to take advantage of your wonderful and loving attributes.

Grandma Joan

I have no doubt that my Grandma Joan is looking down on the new and beautiful Kroc Centers with pride and love for all.

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Amanda Latimer

Amanda Latimer is the granddaughter of Joan Kroc.