“It’s not as hard as it might be,” Royce Waxenfelter says of the murder of his brother, Grady. “He’s with God now, his reward for having lived a righteous life.”
Royce got the call Thursday afternoon from one of his nieces. Grady, a weighmaster for Clackamas County, had pulled over a truck. The driver shot him once in the head, killing him.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I thought there had to be some kind of mistake. How could someone kill Grady?
“My brother was an amazing, kind, loving friend to everyone he met.”
Royce, who is two years younger than his brother, grew up wanting to emulate him.
“We grew up on farms in Estacada so we were outside most of the time,” Royce said. “He loved football, I loved football. He taught me to have fun, be a good person, to care about people.”
The most important thing he learned from his brother?
“He taught me to give a good bear hug,” Royce says through tears. “One of my earliest memories is of him wrapping his arms around me and giving me this bear hug.
“How could anyone want to take this loving person away from so many people?”
Royce says that his brother leaves behind his wife, two daughters and a son.
“Grady met his wife while they were in high school,” he says. “They were in love and she stayed with him when he joined the army.”
Grady spent four years in the Army, and stationed at a few places including Germany, where his son was born. Last year, he got to see his older daughter get married.
“It was the proudest moment for him,” says Royce. “It was such a great thing for him to be able to see her end up with someone so special.”
Royce says that while Grady learned a lot in the Army – he got his GED, he learned the skills that helped him find work when he got out – it was when he got out and returned to Estacada that his life really found direction.
“It was Pastor Brent at Estacada First Baptist who helped set him on the right path,” Royce says. “He brought him and taught him. He helped him find his way.
“Grady became more and more involved, becoming a deacon and a part of the community. If there was someone who needed help, he was there for them. If there was someone who had no place to go for Thanksgiving, Grady opened his house for them.”
Royce (left) with his brother, Grady
He also worked his way up in the county, starting as a mechanic and ending up as a weighmaster.
“He loved his work,” Royce says. “He loved what he did. It was another way he played a role in the community.”
Another thing Grady loved was motorcycles.
“As long as I can remember, he loved motorcycles,” Royce says. “He loved riding them, reading about them, working on them.”
And they provided a way for him to help others.
“Every year at Fred Meyer we do a ride to OHSU to deliver toys for kids for the holidays,” Royce said. “And every year he would be there, on his Harley, ready to ride. To give to others was something so important to him.”
Royce says the past few years have been very special with the two of them living so close together.
“It’s really been a blessing to be so close, to spend so much time together,” he says. “It’s comforting now to be able to look back and see how lucky we were to have had that time.”
The two families were together just last weekend, watching the Super Bowl.
“He was such a Seahawks fan,” says Royce. “I am very happy that he got to see them win it all. I want them to know how special a moment that was for him.”
Royce also wants all those law enforcement officers out there looking for his brother’s killer to know how he appreciates what they are doing.
“I know that they are putting themselves at risk,” he says. “I just hope they know how grateful we are, how Grady is grateful.”
While he waits for word, Royce and the family are waiting for his parents to fly up from Texas where they had been on vacation.
“They are devastated,” Royce said. “Their son has been ripped away from them. Imagine the most loving, caring, wonderful person who would do anything for anyone, and that would be my brother.”
As for the person who killed Grady, Royce has a message:
“You can’t hide from God. You will be held accountable.”