S: OUR TREASURED OAK TREE
BC: My dear father, my dear friend; the best and wisest man I ever knew - who taught me many lessons and showed me many things ... Your guiding hand will always be on my shoulder | As we express our gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them --- JFK
FC: OUR TREASURED OAK TREE | God gave us memories that we might have roses in December...
1: For Dad with Love and Respect... As a young girl, I remember Dad once told me that he was like a big, strong, old Oak Tree -- nothing could ever hurt him, and he would always be with us. As I look back now, I realize how fitting the Oak Tree reference was. In the Celtic culture, the Oak Tree represents boundless wisdom embodied within towering strength. The Oak Tree is revered for its endurance and noble presence; symbolizing all that is honorable, stable, and true. That was my Dad | Angel Oak Tree by Jenni Ferguson
2: The greatest Oak was once a little nut who held its ground. | Rolland Anthony Guldan was born September 15, 1932 to Sebastian and Margaret Wehrnberg Guldan in Lomira, Wisconsin, on his grandparent's farm in the same room and same bed in which his father had been born decades earlier. With beautiful, big brown eyes and soft, wavy, brown hair, he was welcomed into the world by his older brother, Bernie (Sonny), and an older sister, Beatrice (Beattie); followed later by two younger sisters, Kathleen, (Katie); and Margaret, (Muggs). His birth certificate listed him incorrectly as Anthony Roland Gulden, and as was often the Catholic custom in those days, the Priest chose to baptize Dad with the more suitable Catholic name of Antonio Rollando Guldan -- which he changed to Rolland Anthony Guldan after he and Mom were married. Dad didn't talk much about his childhood, so we are left to base his story on the little bit of information that he did relay to us. Even though he came to be quite a story-teller in his later years, we have to trust that this information is correct - at least from his perspective, which is what molded his character and personality as he grew into adulthood. Life was difficult for many families during that Post-Depression Era, and the Guldan family was not immune to the struggles. When Dad was just a young boy, his father, Sebastian, (Grandpa Guldan), was laid off from his job at the local candy factory. The family was told on Christmas Eve that they were to be evicted from their home on Boyle Place, as they had not been able to pay the rent. Money was stretched very tightly, and Grandma Guldan (Dad's mother) perfected a casserole cuisine to help the food budget go further. One of Dad's first lessons learned in his young life was to never take anything for granted, even food--as he watched in dismay while the neighbor children played baseball with the oranges they received as Christmas gifts. The Guldan family moved from Boyle Place to a home on Amory Street in Fond du Lac. Shortly after Muggs was born, there was a fire on the roof. Grandma Guldan was still sick and weak from the childbirth, but they all got out safely, and apparently the fire was put out quickly with no damage to the contents or interior of the house. From that day forward, Muggs was known as the “Fire Baby”. The family eventually moved to their life-long home at 373 Grove Street, which they rented from some elderly sisters for whom Grandpa Guldan had been doing yard work. Grandpa and Grandma Guldan rented from the sisters until they purchased the home in 1949. The family always had a vegetable garden where Dad and his sister Katie would often eat tomatoes off of the vine. Dad attended St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School in Fond du Lac where he was a good student and straight-laced kid. In the spring of 1947, he helped the eighth grade team win the softball league championship. He studied hard, but that didn’t stop him from getting in trouble from time to time. He was always a little bigger than the other kids, so he was leery of fighting with anyone - afraid that he might hurt them; with the exception of his brother Bernie. Bernie was faster, but Dad was bigger, and when they got in to scuffles, Dad would usually win. He was often heard whistling through his teeth walking to school, doing his chores, etc.; a habit he never outgrew. All of his life while at work, concentrating on solving a puzzle, or in the creation process of a project, he could always be heard whistling through his teeth. | Who's that little Mexican boy on the horse??? Well, that's Rollie, of course!!! | Gotta love the hair!! Dad in his "hippie" phase! | Bernie, Dad seated; Beattie, and Aunt Rosie standing (Aunt Rosie was Grandma Guldan's Sister)
3: A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances. | Beattie, Dad, Katie, and Bernie seated with Aunt Rosie kneeling | On the home front, Grandpa Guldan often found solace in a bottle, and became somewhat cantankerous after having a few. We've all heard tales of the dreaded "razor strap" used when the Guldan children misbehaved. One day he knew he was going to be in trouble when he arrived home from school. So on the way home he put his school books in the back seat of his pants, hoping to soften the blow of the razor strap. Good in theory, but when Grandpa Guldan realized this, he was very angry! One has to admire Dad’s ingenuity, though. Grandpa Guldan found work at Anchor Transfer - a local moving company, where he moved pianos up and down flights of stairs by himself. But even with Grandpa Guldan’s back-breaking, hard work, times continued to be difficult with so many mouths to feed. At an early age, Dad was sent to live with his mother's father, Great Grandpa Wehrnberg, in Lomira, Wisconsin. Great Grandpa Wehrnberg was divorced, and had lived alone, spending a great deal of his time at a local tavern. According to Dad, they ate potato soup just about every night, which Dad prepared. At the age of twelve, Dad began working at a local farm owned by Della and Walter Lerch in Lomira to supplement the family income, help pay room and board, and buy clothes to wear to school. Walter and Della depended on Dad and entrusted him to take care of the plowing, planting, and general farm duties. Walter had recently purchased a new tractor and one day was driving his tractor through his barn, and he continued to drive it out of the back door - where there was no ramp! The tractor, with Walter on it, was teetering on the edge of the door, and Dad was called upon to save the day as he got the tractor and Walter out safely. On another occasion, Walter had asked Dad to find out what was killing their chickens. They thought that it was something in the wood pile. Dad studied the wood pile, and I’m sure was proud as could be when he shot and killed the culprit. The culprit that he killed turned out to be Walter and Della's family cat. Once when Dad was plowing the field, the plow horses would get to a certain point in the field and swerve around it. They did this several times. Finally they went to look at the field and found a hive of ground bees. The fact that the horses instinctively knew that they needed to avoid that area must have been pretty amazing to him. Walter and Della were like a second family to him. He continued to work on their farm through High School. They treated Dad very well, and helped to guide him and nurture the development of many values that remained with him throughout his life. Dad learned to be self-sufficient, responsible, and resourceful at a very young age. What ever obstacles or trials he encountered, he found a way to persevere. He did not succumb to self-pity, but instead, did whatever needed to be done to overcome the obstacles. Throughout his life, he figured out what needed to be done, and just did it. | Brother Bernie, their Mom, (Grandma Guldan), and Dad | Beattie, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma Guldan, Mindy the family dog, and Bernie | Dad at his First Communion | Dad in the tender teenage years | Brother Bernie & Dad
4: After Graduation from St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School, Dad attended Goodrich High School, where he was given the nickname of Goldie. He continued to be a good student, excelling in History, which was his favorite subject. In the spring, he participated in track and field, where he lettered in the Shot-put. He also loved to run, exercising his legs every day as he ran to school. His sister, Muggs recalls him practicing his shot-put by standing on the other side of Grove Street, and “putting” it down their long driveway -- leaving dents in the gravel driveway. In the fall, he played football as a fullback. The highlight of his football career was playing a game against the Kenosha team, which included Alan Ameche. Alan Ameche went on to play six seasons with the Baltimore Colts, after being awarded the Heisman Trophy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in the league. Dad told the story that his Goodrich High team held Alan Ameche to 200 yards --- in the first half of the game! Dad didn’t date much in High School. He was somewhat shy, and between school, studying, and sports, he probably didn’t have a lot of extra time. He did, however, take a job delivering meat on his bicycle for Sawyer Meat Market after school. From what we understand, he made these deliveries on his bike, as he did not yet have his driver’s license. But that changed, when in High School Grandpa Guldan purchased a car for Dad to use, which Dad damaged in an accident shortly after, and was afraid to tell Grandpa Guldan the bad news. However, that was unavoidable, as the car was no longer drivable. This may explain why he was sympathetic to me with my teenage fender-benders. In his Senior year of High School, he received his draft papers. Instead of joining the Army, he chose to enlist in the Navy. Fresh out of High School in 1951, it was off to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois. | "We shall surely miss the steady playing of Reg Hansen, John Diedrich. Don Norenberg, Jim Tilly, Herb Barthuly, Mert Trumbower, Don Dobrinski, and Rollie Guldan, all seniors".
5: "Goldie" in the High School Years
6: After completing his training at the Naval Station, he was sent to Long Beach, California, and set to sail on The USS Toledo (CA-133), which was a heavy cruiser/warship. Dad worked his way up to Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class. He was responsible for loading the 15” diameter shells into the chambers of the big guns. He said when they fired, the noise was so loud that it would “knock you on your ass!” He and his shipmates played cards in their leisure time. In one Poker Game, he won a 14 kt gold Dragon-Head ring, which has become a family treasure. Also, in an effort to make extra money while on board, he bought himself a small sewing machine, so that he could sew patches on his shipmate’s uniforms, and mend clothing for them. | ANCHORS AWEIGH!
7: During his tour of duty, Dad traveled to Japan, China, and Hawaii. The Sailors never had a lot of money, so when they docked at one of these places, they would usually all chip in for one bottle of wine. On one night, Dad and his shipmates had a little too much while in a bar in Japan. One of them had the genius idea to steal a bicycle from outside of the bar. They used that bike to travel from bar to bar, until they were arrested by the local police. Imagine a bunch of tipsy Sailors trying to explain this to someone who doesn’t speak much English. To add insult to injury, one of the Sailors threw up on the policeman! On an additional shore excursion, Dad broke his wrist - we never did hear the whole story about that one! Dad only told us a handful of stories about the Navy, but did tell mom about an experience when they were called to rescue another ship that had been attacked. As they pulled up to the ship, they discovered decapitated bodies floating in the water. On another occasion, they were told to fire their guns at a ship. They were required to follow orders, even through they were aware that this was not an enemy ship; it was one of our own. And once when returning to port in California, they accidentally ended up taking out an entire dock as the ship was not maneuvered properly, and the Toledo hit the dock dumping everything on it into the water.
8: Distinguishing himself, Dad earned the National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal (2 stars), China Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. He was also very proud of the fact that he hit the winning home run to beat the Marines in a baseball playoff game between the Navy and the Marine Corp. All of this could have contributed to how Dad matured while he was in the Navy. I’m sure that it was his sense of humor that helped him deal with some of the horrible scenes he witnessed, as well as the boredom. His sense of humor became one of Dad’s most endearing qualities. Back at home, Mom (Shirley Rickert a/k/a Blondie) and her sister Verna, had been living two houses away from Dad’s homestead in Fond du Lac, and had become friendly with Dad’s two younger sisters, Katie and Muggs. Dad came home on leave in 1952. Mom was only a freshman in High School. She was 14 and he was 20 when she asked him to sign her yearbook. He inscribed, “To the most beautiful blonde I know; a bit of advice; never trust a Sailor any time, unless it’s me!” He went back to his ship and told his shipmates that he was going to marry that girl. He also came home on leave in 1954, and while on a double date with his brother Bernie, and Bernie’s girlfriend Margie, Bernie asked Margie to marry him. This was a surprise to Margie, but apparently Dad knew all about it. I think Dad always had a special place in his heart for Margie. Another time when Dad was home on leave from the Navy, while still having his sea legs, he was a groomsman for his sister Katie and Ted Rady’s wedding. Ted must have done something right in Dad‘s eyes, as according to Katie, Dad was always very protective of her.
9: After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Dad returned to Fond du Lac, where jobs were almost impossible to find. He swept bars after hours, had a short stint as a bartender, and took on whatever else he could find. Dad had enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh to fulfill his dream of becoming a history teacher, but sadly, had to give up on that dream, as he could not afford the tuition. He had been working as a bartender at night in order to cover his school costs, but one night the bar was extremely busy, so he asked one of his friends to help him out behind the bar, and he was fired. Not long after, he landed a job at Born Sheet Metal and started on a new career path, as this was the only job available at the time. Dad dated some women after returning to Fond du Lac, but Grandma Guldan wasn’t too happy with his choices in women, so she suggested that he date “one of those nice Rickert girls. He already had his eye on Shirley, but would not ask her out on a date until she had graduated from High School. She did indeed graduate in 1956, and they were married in April of 1957. It was a whirlwind romance, beginning with the Elvis Presley movie, Love Me Tender. Dad found it difficult to decide where to take her on dates, since she was six years younger than he was. They used to spend many nights watching the Milwaukee Braves on TV at Great Grandpa and Grandma Fritz’ (Abraham's) house in Fond du Lac. Baseball was a very big part of Dad’s young adult life, and he continued to be a baseball fan; watching the Milwaukee Brewers or listening to them on the radio through his life. After a few dates, they knew that this was the love that was meant to be, so they began to plan their wedding. Dad was brought up as a Catholic and Mom was brought up as a Lutheran. Dating a Lutheran girl was one thing, but marrying one was not widely accepted in those days. Mom had her wedding dress chosen (and partially paid for), the bridesmaids dresses had been chosen, altered, and paid for, and the hall and band had been booked for the dance. There was so much controversy created by their engagement and upcoming nuptials, (including many lectures about Dad’s future home for everlasting life), that they decided to cut their losses and elope. They traveled to Illinois and became Mr. & Mrs. Rolland Guldan. This is a very sad commentary on the beliefs of the day -- They were both Christians; the denomination should not have been important. They truly loved each other, and made each other very happy. They knew that despite other people’s opinions, their love was very strong, and they would make this marriage work. Once married, they rented a small apartment in Fond du Lac. Mom’s dream to work as a secretary to a senator was put on the back burner, when they were blessed with their first child, a daughter, Wendy Jean, in June of 1958. A few months after Wendy was born, Mom was again “with child“, and they decided to purchase a home on Butler Street for the whopping price of $8,000. In June of 1959, a son, Jeffrey Rolland was born, and fifteen months later, another daughter, (me), Rhonda Sue, in September of 1960 completed their family. After Wendy and Jeff were born, and with me on the way, Dad began to take courses for Sheet Metal Apprentice at the Technical College while continuing to work full time for Born Sheet Metal. Mom stayed home and took care of the kids.
10: Dad, who never lost his love of baseball spent a few nights each week, many Saturdays, and some Sundays playing softball with local leagues. Mom and Aunt Margie (and sometimes Uncle Bernie) would bundle up the kids to go watch him play many games. Often other family members would also go to cheer him on. One night, Aunt Verna and Uncle Hank came to visit. Mom and Aunt Verna stayed home with the kids, while Uncle Hank went to watch Dad play. While running to home plate during that game, Dad took an extra long leap. When his foot hit home plate, his knee bent backwards. Hank came back to the house to tell mom that she needed to take some things to the hospital for Dad.
11: Dad became Mr. Mom for the next several months. Jeff was only about one month old, and Wendy was just a hair over a year old. With a cast from his hip to his ankle to allow the torn ligaments in his knee to heel, Dad was unable to work. Mom found a job working as a Secretary for Goelz Insurance, where she had worked part time while she was in High School. Of course, Dad’s injury occurred in the summer. They had no air conditioning, and a two story house with 13 steps up the stairs where the only bathroom in the house was found. Mom remembers that he had to do his knee exercises while in a bath tub of warm water. Dad made the best of this time by canning beets and making tomato jam, along with changing diapers and bonding with his young progeny. Never one to give up, Dad continued to play baseball after his knee healed, and suffered other sports injuries along the way but he did hit three home runs in one game! So, I guess to him the injuries were worth the excitement of the game. In 1963 an opportunity arose for Dad to enter into a partnership with a man named Bob Quinn, to purchase an existing business in Berlin, Wisconsin, and operate under the name of Jeskey Plumbing & Heating. Mom and Dad packed their young family and moved to Berlin to start his new venture. We rented a small house at 123 Liberty Street in Berlin while Dad started out his new business. In the evenings, Dad enjoyed his Bowling Leagues, where his team won several league championships and awards from the American Bowling Congress. He also became an active member of the Local Rotary and Lions Club, and when not at another function, he enjoyed carousing with his new friends after a hard day’s work. Of course, in his spare time, Dad still had to keep up his yard duties. Jeff remembers once when he was very young, Dad was mowing the lawn, and found Jeff in the garage crying. Dad asked him why he was crying, and Jeff said -- “Well, why are you crying?? Dad replied, “I’m not, I’m sweating!”
12: “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is.” | The Heating and Air Conditioning business was booming, and being one of the owners, Dad worked many hours. Some time in the mid 1960’s, Dad was working on a furnace when it blew up and he inhaled the fumes, suffered burns on his hands, and singed the hair on his face, hands, and arms. He was taken to the hospital to be examined, and Dr. Gimenez told him that he needed to be admitted to the hospital, as he was concerned that Dad may experience breathing problems due to the inhalation of the fumes. Dad refused and went home against medical advice. When Dad was working, he had a tendency to focus completely on his work. He was on a “mission”. On one Friday night, he received a service call to go to a church in Montello, as they were having problems with their furnace. Mom had planned a dinner with her Aunt Irma and Uncle Louie that weekend, but Dad was called out (as was a frequent occurrence in those days), and his plans had to be set aside. As Friday passed and Saturday arrived, Mom, Irma and Louie had dinner without Dad. By late Saturday, Mom had heard nothing from him. She called the local Montello Police, who went to the job-site and found no one. Mom was obviously concerned, and still heard nothing from Dad until Sunday morning when he called her saying, “I hear you’ve been looking for me?” Apparently, he had to drive from Montello to Fond du Lac to get the part needed to repair the furnace. Once he returned to Montello and tried to install it, he found that he was given the wrong part, so he needed to drive back to Fond du Lac to get the correct part -- I guess he was angry, so immersed in his work and determined to fix the problem that he didn’t even think to find a phone to call mom! Of course, this was before cell phones were ever invented. The Police must have gone to the church while Dad was en route. I recall him getting many calls in the middle of cold, blustery winter nights to fix someone’s furnace or re-light the pilot light for some little old ladies. | A New Challenge...
13: Even with the all of the hours Dad put in at work and at play, he still found time to spend with his young family. We went on day trips to the Milwaukee Zoo, family picnics, Wisconsin Dells, and a trip to Mackinac Island, as well as a trip to St. Louis, Missouri to see Mom’s Aunt Boots (Laverne) and Uncle Forry (Forrest). We also enjoyed renting cottages on Silver Lake during the summer. Unfortunately, Dad worked during the week, and could only get away to join us on weekends, but we made the best of it, and have very fond memories of those days. Grandpa and Grandma Guldan, Bernie, Margie, and Patti also joined us for some of those days. Some of my favorite outings were going to the outdoor theater in Ripon. Mom would make bags of popcorn for each of us, and we kids would all get dressed in our pajamas. Then we’d all pile into the station wagon and go to the 23 Outdoor to watch a movie. Mom and Dad would watch from the front seat, while we kids would stretch out in the back with the seats down -- and usually fall asleep. After living on Liberty Street for a few years, Mom and Dad decided to purchase some land in an undeveloped area on a hill in Berlin and build a new home there. This was quite a painstaking process, as the land was part of an area that was predominantly rock and quarries. In order to build there, they had to blast through the rock with dynamite, much fill had to be hauled in, and lots of grunt work to make the lot build-able, but Mom and Dad were never ones to shy away from hard work! They spent $20,000 on the house and the lot, and saved quite a bit of money by painting and doing a lot of the work themselves. Naturally, Dad did the heating and air conditioning work, and the plumbing, with the assistance of his partner, Bob. After the house was complete in 1967, the landscaping began. The yard with the large granite rock wall back drop (and Mom’s flowers strategically placed) was later premiered in the local newspaper due to it’s unique beauty. A few years later, the basement was converted into a recreation room, with a full functioning bar and bathroom -- which Mom & Dad, again, did on their own. With love, and a lot of hard work, they built a beautiful home together. Although Dad did some wood-working while in high school -- building end tables, etc., it seems his creativity and handy-work really started to blossom once they built this home. With Mom’s inspiration, Dad built a backyard stone water fountain, installed a patio, installed an in-ground gas grill and gas lamp in the back yard, and created patio tables out of tree stumps, just to name a few. Once we kids started to get a little older, Mom started to work at the school as a part time secretary. She was later offered a job a Goodrich Furnishings in Berlin, and became an interior decorator for the store. She & dad were always remodeling something; or making something out of nothing. Together their brains and brawn redecorated every room in our house.
14: Mom and Dad took up golfing and joined Mascoutin Country Club. They enjoyed the golfing as well as the camaraderie of the other members. It seems that after joining Mascoutin, their social life really took off. Our family rec room was the locale for many a social event. They hosted some doozies, including one “blizzard” party. The town of Berlin basically shut down due to the snow, but the party must go on! People came in snowmobiles, and the local gas station owner left the party several times to pull someone out of a ditch, but he always came back. The party went on into the wee hours of the morning. They took part in helping to plan many events at Mascoutin, including Hawaiian Luau’s, New Year’s celebrations, and several costume parties. Dad was never a fan of dressing up. He never wanted to be the center of attention, and it took a lot of convincing for him to agree, but once he did, he always enjoyed himself. And whenever there was music, they were compelled to dance. Dad’s favorite dancing song was Proud Mary. Any time that song was played, you couldn’t keep him off of the dance floor. I loved to slow dance with him, because he would sing in your ear when he was dancing. He couldn’t carry a tune, but if it was one of his favorites, like My Way, he just couldn’t help himself. Dad also enjoyed deer hunting in his younger years. During Jeff’s young teenage years, Dad and Jeff would get up very early in the morning and make the trek to meet with Dad’s brother-in-law (Katie‘s Husband), Ted and his son Tony for an annual deer hunting event. I only remember them bringing a deer home once, but according to Ted, they always had a great time and lots of laughs. The first time that Dad took Jeff, he told him to stand on a hill, be very quiet, and don’t move. Suddenly, a shot was heard and a deer escaped with his life after Jeff had tried his hand at shooting it. When Dad asked Jeff why he didn’t tell him about the deer, Jeff said, “You told me to be quiet!” During those years growing up on Hillside Drive, our family entertained quite a few family Christmases. Christmas always seemed so special at our house. Mom would always hide the presents from Santa, and when we went to Church on Christmas Eve, Bernie and Margie would come and put Santa’s gifts under the tree. Since they played Santa all of those years, it was only fair that once Bernie and Margie were blessed with Patti, Dad dressed up as Santa at Christmas to deliver Patti's gifts. Apparently, he was not a very convincing Santa. The first time Patti laid eyes on him, she blurted out, “That’s not Santa! That’s Uncle Lolly!!” Well, he gave it his best shot. We had a pretty normal family life. Dad would work all day and expect supper to be on the table when he got home from work. We went to Church and Sunday School on the weekends. Often after church we would go out for Brunch - frequently to a restaurant formerly known as Moxies in Ripon, where Dad would relentlessly tease the waitresses. This was rarely one-sided. Once they got a drift of Dad’s personality, they usually gave it right back to him. We also had several pets. The first was Frisky; a cat that somehow learned how to play pool on our pool table in the rec room. Dad was never very fond of cats, but for some reason felt that Frisky needed to be bathed. He took Frisky down to the utility sink in the basement and tried to give him a bath. Frisky took a slice out of Dad’s wrist -- just missing the vein in his wrist, as I recall. I think that was when Frisky learned to fly. One day, Mom and Dad came home with a little puppy we named Caesar. Once in a while the pets were allowed to come in to the house, but for the most part, Dad felt that pets were meant to be kept outside, so he built Caesar’s Palace, a very nice, insulated dog house with a very large fence around it so Caesar would have plenty of room to run free, but wouldn’t be able to stray from home. | Never give it to a milk drinker on 3rd & 10
15: When the winter set in, and it seemed too cold for Caesar to stay in his insulated dog house, Dad partitioned off the back part of the garage, and put in a duct so the heat could flow into it for Caesar to stay warm and cozy on those frigid winter nights. Mom might have talked him into that one. We had several cats after Frisky and a few bunnies. Even though Dad felt that these pets were to be treated as animals, he took our bunny Samantha to the Vet when she broke her leg falling of our hammock, and patiently waited while the Vet wrapped her leg with tape and a $4.00 popsicle stick. It’s odd that even though Dad always wanted us to believe that “animals were animals” and were meant to be kept outside, (most especially cats), as the years went on, he spent a lot of time playing with our animals. Very often he was seen with a cat sleeping on his lap. When I was about 28, and living on Dove Street in Oshkosh with Mollie the cocker spaniel, Mom and Dad came to visit and spent the night in my spare bedroom. Sometime during the night, Mollie jumped up on the bed with them, and suddenly they realized that the bed was getting quite warm. She had peed on the bed right between them! They put a towel on the bed, and waited until morning to tell me. Needless to say, Dad’s tolerance for animals had grown significantly since those days of our youth. Since Mom and Dad had become involved in Mascoutin Country Club, Dad was asked to head the building committee for the new clubhouse and course. Jeff also helped with the development of the grounds, and often took our family riding lawnmower to the new course to cut the lawn while the grass was beginning to grow. They both put in very many hours from it’s infancy to its completion. Once the club was complete, one of the first large occasions hosted there was a special wedding -- Wendy’s. Dad proudly gave away his first-born daughter in June of 1976. While in the narthex of the church as Dad was ready to walk Wendy down the aisle, he grabbed Wendy’s hand and said, “You know, it’s still not too late to back out.” When Mom started to work full time for Goodrich Home Furnishings as an interior decorator, it was quite an adjustment for Dad. He did not like the idea that people may feel that Mom had to work, as he wanted to be the provider. I think this just bruised his ego slightly. He was proud that he was able to provide a very comfortable life for his family. He also had some difficulty when supper wasn’t on the table when he arrived home, and a few other things, but eventually he realized that Mom also felt a need to be valued for her talents and creativity, in addition to being a mother and wife. He learned to help with the household chores, vacuuming, laundry, cooking, etc. Once he started helping her with these things, he never stopped. He just did whatever needed to be done. During the late 1960’s and early 1970‘s Mom and Dad started traveling quite a bit. Some of the trips were related to Dad’s business, and some were just for pleasure. They often took golfing trips to Northern Wisconsin with their friends from the golf course, but also took trips out of state and abroad. They traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, Hawaii, New Mexico, Mexico, England (including Stonehenge), Scotland, and Ireland. One of the highlights of Dad’s life was golfing at Saint Andrews in Ireland. He also kissed the Blarney Stone. According to the legend, those who kiss the Blarney Stone receive a gift of eloquence that enables them to obtain anything they want through persuasion. I don’t think he really needed any help in that area. While in Kentucky, Mom fell out of the golf cart. She alleged that Dad dumped her out, which he denied, but apparently, it was very comical. Dad was quite the instigator. On a trip to New Orleans, Dad tried to sell Mom as a call girl. Once on a boating trip, Dad stood above Mom and took a picture of her with their Polaroid camera in her swimming suit. Then he proceeded to pass the photo of Mom’s cleavage around to the others on the boat. Fortunately for Mom, he stood up, and the picture blew away. In all of their travels, there were only few bad experiences. They were snowed in at the Chicago airport, and the usual travel delays, but for the most part they had wonderful memories of their travels. | As long as there are bluebirds, there will be miracles and a way to find happiness
16: It was very meaningful to Dad to return to Hawaii with Mom, although it had changed quite a bit from the days he was there when he was in the Navy. While they were in Hawaii, Wendy gave birth to their first grandchild, Cory Loren Duerr on November 5, 1979. Dad was very excited and celebrated with MANY toasts to his new grandson. On that same trip, Dad was pretty proud of himself to have been propositioned by a hooker, especially since he had just become a grandpa! Then shortly before they left to begin their England/Ireland/Scotland trip, Wendy gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Jennifer Ann Duerr, on June 11, 1982. After Wendy was married, and Jeff and I were old enough to work at Mascoutin in the bar and restaurant, we spent a little more time with Mom and Dad and their friends. They were well liked by everyone, and I was very proud to have them as parents. Dad was always very generous, a big tipper, always buying drinks for friends and acquaintances, and ALWAYS flirting with the waitresses (except for me, of course). Dad had this way about him. You just couldn’t help but like him. He had a dry sense of humor, but he was smooth. You know the saying, “A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip“... Yup. That was him! He could put a person in their place, and they would just laugh about it. For Mom’s 40th birthday in 1978, Dad planned a surprise birthday party for her. She still doesn’t know how he pulled it off. They had planned to go out to dinner with a group of friends, and were all ready to go, when Dad received a phone call - A service call. They were having furnace problems at Mascoutin. They all decided to ride along with him, and wait while he fixed it. He went into the building, and came back out a few minutes later saying that it was going to take a while, so they might as well come in to wait. Surprise! When I was about fifteen or sixteen years old, Dad had come home one night from spending a Thursday night at Mascoutin. It was winter, but the men still all got together on Thursday nights. He had hoisted a few toddies, and driving down Center Street he drove right through the back yard of the Chief of Police and knocked down a little tree. He just kept right on driving. Even if Chief Boeck had caught him, I’m sure that he would have talked his way out of that one!
17: Mascoutin Country Club used to host some silent auctions for various charities. At one for the Lions Club, Dad stole some guy’s paddle, and kept bidding on a jar of homemade pickles until he was the highest bidder. The poor guy ended up spending $42 for a jar of pickles. When I was sixteen and had just gotten my license, I took Dad’s car, picked up a few of my friends, and went to a party out in the country. It was snowing and I was an inexperienced driver. Leaving the party, I was following a pick up truck, and didn’t put on the brakes in time. I slid into the back of the truck. The police were called, but I didn’t want to break the news to Mom and Dad over the phone, so a friend took me to find Mom and Dad who were at Mascoutin. I have to say, I thought I would really catch it, but Dad was very understanding. Unfortunately, when we went back to try to find where I had left the car, we drove around for what seemed to be hours, and my poor friend Connie was waiting for me in the back seat of a police car. When the ordeal was finally over, Mom and Dad returned to the Country Club, and the Manager caught someone trying to steal Mom’s mink coat. Quite the night! I had several other accidents, and Dad seemed to take these kind of things in stride. I remember him often telling Mom to “settle down; relax; it will be okay“. He was a very calming voice in a storm. That is not to say that he never got angry. He was human of course. He had a temper, and could be pretty stubborn about things, when he felt he was right and there were times when we kids may have deserved his anger. One New Year’s Eve, Mom and Dad told Jeff and I that we could have some friends over to the house to celebrate. In those days, drinking wasn’t viewed the same way as it is now. Mom and Dad didn’t mind us having friends over and have a few drinks, because at least they knew where we were, and that we were safe. This particular New Year’s Eve, people we didn’t even know were coming out of the woodwork. The party got way out of hand. The carpeted steps leading to the rec room in the basement were soaked with booze, muddy and wet; people were in the living room eating glass Christmas ornaments off of the Christmas Tree; and one of Mom‘s good China platters got broken (one that Dad brought back from Japan when he was in the Navy). Needless to say, they were pretty angry. But that didn’t stop them from allowing us to have more parties. We had a big backyard party with our friends for Jeff’s graduation, however, we did have to agree that one of Jeff’s larger-than-life friends would act as a Bouncer and check everyone’s kidneys before they would be allowed into the house to use the restroom. And trust me, no one wanted to cross that guy. Mom and Dad were fun. There were many times when Jeff would bring his friends home after bar time, and Mom and Dad would stay up and party with his friends -- even after Jeff called it a night and went to bed. Jeff graduated from High School and then began to work for Dad after attending Milwaukee Technical College. Wendy's husband, Loren, also worked for Dad for a short period of time. Our driveway on Hillside Drive had a turn around, and several times Dad would forget a car was there and backed into it. Unfortunately, the house they moved into in Wisconsin Rapids also had a turn-around. Wendy and I both got our cars smucked there too! The driveway was long and steep, and many winters we got stuck on the way up the hill, or at the very least, it took us several tries to get up the hill. Dad cleared off the driveway with his Ariens snow blower, which is now approximately 45 years old. Joel and I have this now, and it still works! | - Carve your name on hearts - not on marble
18: As the year’s went on, Unions became very prevalent in the plumbing and heating industry, and Dad and his partner were being forced into changing their business to a Union Shop. Dad did not wish to do this, as he felt this took away some of his control and the independence of owning his own business. Dad dissolved his partnership with Bob, and formed Guldan Heating and Air Conditioning. A new building was constructed on Old Ripon Road in Berlin, and he continued his operations in that building for several years. By the early 1980’s there was a lot of competition and Dad was ready to make a change. He and Mom tossed around some ideas, including buying a restaurant. Dad was approached by the owner of a heating and air conditioning wholesale business from whom he had purchased his furnaces and parts. The offer was to start up a new branch of Service & Supply in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Dad would be the perfect fit. He knew the product, and the plan was that Dad would run the branch, and be the sales person. Dad could sell ice to an Eskimo. In the first year of operation, the new branch had pretty strong sales and continued to grow steadily over the years. He worked at Service & Supply until he retired in 1999, at the age of 67. He attempted to retire when he was 65, but after all of those years of being the guy who provided for his family, retiring was very difficult for him. So for the last few years, he worked part time. Jeff had also moved to Wisconsin Rapids and continued to work with Dad. Although Dad was not able to fulfill his dream of becoming a history teacher; he was a good teacher. Jeff learned very much from Dad’s product knowledge and business practices. When they moved to Wisconsin Rapids, Mom started an Interior Decorating Business of her own named Creative Interiors. Once Dad retired, he worked with Mom, helping to make cornices for window treatments, and installing window treatments (or whatever they created together. It wasn‘t always strictly limited to windows). According to Mom, there were times that they got a little “testy” with each other while installing, and she was a little nervous when people overheard this. They had a unique way of communicating with each other, but it worked for them. Shortly after they had moved up to Wisconsin Rapids in 1983, Wendy separated from her husband. Wendy, Cory and Jenny moved in with them, however, Cory ended up spending most of his time with his father, Loren. Jenni and Wendy stayed with Mom and Dad. Jenni was Grandpa’s little darling. She and Dad had a very special bond, and she was one of the few people who could talk Dad into just about anything. Mom and Dad spent a lot of time with Wendy, Jenni, and Cory, and even though Cory lived with his father, they made every effort to spend time with him whenever they could. Wendy was working full time and going to school, so she was not always able to drive to pick up Cory. Mom and Dad gladly drove to pick him up for visits. They took small trips together to Minocqua and Copper Falls, fished and golfed. Jenni spent more time at home with them and when she was about two years old, Dad was fixing the plumbing under the sink in the bathroom and hit his hand. He uttered something and Jenni asked him, “What’s the matter Grandpa? Did you hurt your fuckin’ knuckles?” I think he was a little more cautious of what he said around the kids after that. Dad used to enjoy his Southern Comfort and Diet Coke after a long day at work, or just relaxing on the weekend, and taught Cory and Jenni how to mix them, using his own three-finger rule for measuring booze.
19: Mom and Dad also did a good deal of traveling while Dad worked for Service & Supply. They went to the Indy 500 several times, Mexico, New Mexico, 3 cruises to the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, and St. Thomas, as well as New Orleans. They had a close call on a very shaky plane ride to New Mexico. They were fogged in and circled the airport for over an hour waiting to land, but were finally forced to land in Ogden, Utah. The Ogden airport was pretty small, and when they later took off from Ogden, they could see the mountains immediately in front of them. On another trip, the oxygen masks were deployed. Now settled in Wisconsin Rapids, they became good friends with the owners of Wilburn’s, a local restaurant. The owners, Hazel and Bill, along with Hazel’s mother Josie, and their friend Butch shared many good times with Mom and Dad. They rented cottages several times with them in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, where Dad was always the designated boat captain. While there, they went to see a comedian that they got to know when they lived in Berlin; Skip Wagner. I remember hearing about some car ride and a speeding ticket with Skip, but the details are foggy. I am sure it was another one of those crazy nights. They also enjoyed many bus trips with the Wilburn’s crew to Lambeau Field for Packer Games. Dad would never miss a Packer Game, and to be able to go to Lambeau Field and watch them play in person...well, life just can’t get much better than that. One summer after a bad storm, Mom and Dad lost power. In fact, the neighborhood, and I’m sure, much of the city was without power. They had been using bottled water to wash up,. The neighbor came over to see if their phone was working, as his wasn’t, and he needed to make a call. Down the stairs came Dad, buck-ass naked, “Shirl, do we have any more of that bottled water?” I’m not sure which one of them turned and ran for the hills faster. Wendy and Jenni had moved out, but Wendy came over one night after her night classes to pick up her laundry. Dad had just taken a shower, and was walking up the stairs, again buck-ass naked. That wasn’t the last Wendy saw of Dad’s naked butt.
20: In order to continue working as an interior decorator in her later years in business, it was a requirement that Mom be licensed. Dad drove with her the day she went to Milwaukee to take her exam. As luck would have it, they ran into a snow storm. The roads were slippery, visibility was minimal, and they ended up in a ditch. Dad would not call a wrecker to pull them out, as he knew that he could get the car out himself, and he did. But it was a very scary drive. In 1991, Jeff married Bev Kessler, and Mom and Dad became grandparents once again, as Bev had three children from a previous marriage; Amy, Becky, and Andy. Ever since the knee injury from his baseball days, Dad’s knees were bad. Knee surgery in 1997 forced Dad to quit smoking and he stopped cold turkey. He never returned to smoking after his knee replacement. Jenni could finally put away the many signs she made to persuade him to quit. After Joel and I were married in 1999, we all decided to try our hand at making Grandma Guldan’s pickles. Mom, Dad, and Wendy came over to Oshkosh, and we started to clean the pickles and prepare the garlic and other ingredients. Joel & I had just purchased some land in Winneconne, and after a big storm the night before, we had found out that one of the huge oak trees on the lot had fallen. Joel rented a chain saw and went out to try to cut up the tree. I was very nervous about him being out there all by himself with a chain saw, so I asked Dad to go out to the lot. Once he found the lot, no one was there! The chain saw that Joel rented was a lemon, so he had taken it back to the rental shop. Oh well, Dad was always ready and willing to help, so he changed gears and helped us make our pickles. In 2000, Jenni graduated from High School. Mom and Dad had gone down early to stay over night to help get ready for the party, as they often did. While we were preparing the food, we had lots of laughs, as we always did -- picking on each other and just having fun in general. I remember Bev making the comment that she was amazed at how much we laughed when we were together. So much of that was because of Dad. In August of 2004, Dad had his other knee replaced, and in January of 2005, he had a hip replacement. After each one of these operations, I saw him exercise back to health. It was difficult, but he was in no way a quitter. He was determined that he would get himself healthy again, and in most cases really pushed the envelope. After his hip surgery, he was up on the ladder replacing the heat tapes within a month. I’m sure this was not the healing time the Dr. prescribed, but he was a little impatient, and did not like to be idle.
21: During all of their years, Mom and Dad lived the vows they made -- to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. They loved and took care of each other for more than 53 years. They were each other’s best friends. Mom took care of Dad when he had his knee and hip replacement surgeries, and when he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis and Lung Cancer. Dad took care of Mom when a blood clot was discovered 4 inches from her heart, he nursed her back to health when she had multiple stings from angry hornets after she hit their nest with the lawnmower, And when her arthritis started to give her problems, he was always there. That’s not to say that through the years there weren’t some rocky times, but their devotion to each other was unshakable, and they always found a way to work through any problems. As all of us advanced in years, Mom and Dad lived through many changes. Wendy had worked in a florist shop and perfected the art of designing floral arrangements, worked as a dispatcher for the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department, graduated from the Police Academy and became a police officer. Later she left her job as a police officer, and became a surveillance supervisor at the Hochunk Casino in Reedsburg. After she left the Casino, she moved back in with Mom and Dad, and worked as the Sexual Assault Coordinator for Wood County. She is now a Probation and Parole Officer for Adams County. After Dad retired, Jeff left Service & Supply to start a Business of his own, which is continuing to grow. I began working as an Insurance Agent in 1991, and married Joel in 1999 (Joel coincidentally shares a lot of characteristics with Dad). On their 45th Wedding Anniversary, Mom and Dad planned a very special dinner for our family at a local dinner club called the Hideaway. We all had lobster. Wendy and I had baked and decorated a “Wedding Cake” for them to have when we returned to their house. Of course, after the traditional cutting of the cake, Dad smeared part of his piece down Mom’s cleavage (instead on her face, like most people would). I’m sure that he just didn’t want to mess up her make up. Wendy had previously made up a set of questions for each of them; one category being favorite songs. With this list, Wendy, Jenni, and I put together a music video for them. We also included the out-takes in the final version. Every time Dad watched this he laughed at the out-takes, and always cried when we sang. Wendy and I had also made a cassette tape for them a few years earlier as a Christmas present. We put it in the stereo and started to play it. Dad became very emotional and took Mom’s hand and placed it in his lap. Even when he was emotional, he had a sense of humor! For their 50th Wedding Anniversary, we had a small celebration at our house -- again with one of Wendy’s and my cake creations. For a gift we all chipped in to rent a cottage up north. We went at different times of the week, so there would be room for everyone. We fished, swam, and just enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere, and as always we had a lot of laughs. They rented a pontoon boat for the week, which Dad loved to captain, but it was an older boat, and Joel always had to get it started before Dad could drive! Since I was not really a fisherman - I didn’t get a fishing license, but one evening Mom, Dad, Joel and Wendy were all fishing, and I wanted to give it a try. I asked Mom if I could just cast it out once, and she obliged. I cast it, and wasn’t holding on tight enough. The pole went flying into the water. Joel uttered a few words that rarely leave his lips -- assuming that he was going to have to go into the water after Dad’s fishing pole, but Dad laughed and kept casting his line until he was able to fish it out of the water. We were also thrilled to witness a majestic eagle nesting nearby. When Bev’s father passed away, Mom and Dad were on their way to the visitation, when a wooden pallet flew off a truck that was traveling toward of them. It flew at their car so fast that they would not have been able to avoid it. Fortunately, the pallet landed in front of their car flat in the middle so that they were able to drive over it without damaging the car in any way. They knew how lucky they were. If that pallet had flown up into the windshield traveling at 55 mph, they would not have survived. The next day, they went back and found the pallet and brought it home. Dad built an outdoor manger out of the wood for Mom to use at Christmastime. Dad helped Mom create her Christmas Village each year by laying the foundation. One year during winter while the village was still up, Mom and Dad had gone to the store, and when they arrived home they heard a noise coming from the family room. They went downstairs to find that a squirrel had fallen down the chimney and was running rampant in the family room. He was black with soot, and bloody; running over the village and spreading blood and soot all over the family room. While they were gone, he had tried to get out by chewing on the window frames, damaging about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the wood frames. They were eventually able to scare him up the stairs and out of the door.
22: Through the years - You never let me down - You turned my life around The sweetest days I found - I found with you Through the years I've never been afraid - I've loved the life we made And I'm so glad I stayed right here with you Through the Years
23: Through the years, through all the good and bad I knew how much we had, I've always been so glad to be with you ... Through the years, when everything went wrong Together we were strong, I know that I belonged Right here with you ... Through the years Through the years I never had a doubt, we'd always work things out I've learned what love's about, by loving you Through the years
24: DAD | As a Father - Dad was tough. No doubt about it. I know that he wanted us to be the best we could be, so he didn’t accept less from us. I remember many times when we were being scolded hearing, “We love you, God Dammit! That’s why we’re yelling at you!” Well, its kind of funny to think about, but it was true. He worked very hard to become a good, honest, successful man, and expected the same of us. When we were younger, it seemed that Dad was either working or busy so much of the time that I was very surprised to learn in my adult years when he remembered many things that we didn’t think he even noticed. Dad did have a difficult time expressing his feelings, so I don’t remember him ever saying that he was proud of us, but I know he was. We could always depend on Dad. Whether we needed physical help with building something, packing, moving, cooking, preparing for a party, or just advice; he never let us down. We may not have always agreed with him, but he was always there for us faithfully. As I got older, I realized how wise he truly was and how much he deeply loved each one of us. | My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
25: It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I've kept it all here in my heart... | Did you ever know that you're my Hero? You're everything I wish I could be. I could fly higher than an Eagle with you as the wind beneath my wings. Thank you. Thank God for you...the wind beneath my wings
26: Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days...
30: My birthday and Dad’s were only a day apart, so when I was born, Dad was given the honor of naming me after Rhonda Fleming, his favorite red-headed actress. We always celebrated our birthdays together and as we got older, we added our ages together and put that many candles on the cake; until there was no room left to put candles. To prevent fires, and keep frosting on the top of the cake, we changed to the “numbered” candles. After removing 90-some candles from the top of a cake, there isn’t much frosting on the top. This year Dad and I would be 132 years old!
31: We lost count of how many times Mom and Dad helped pack Wendy up and move from one place to another. That entertainment center of hers was always a pain in the butt, and many a curse word was uttered when putting that thing back together, but he always did it. Like it or not, he did it. One of the last times that they moved Wendy, he recognized a box filled with liquor and said, “Jesus Christ! Aren’t you going to drink any of this??!! It’s the same shit from last year!!” When she moved in with Mom and Dad the last time, he knew that Wendy had been through some really tough times, and had lost a lot. One day he was out near the garden digging up sod. Wendy approached him and asked him what he was doing. With tears in his eyes he said, “I’m making Wendy’s garden.” He knew how important it was for her at that time to feel that there was a piece of something she could call her own. He & Wendy were very competitive when playing games, puzzling, or fishing together. Many times when putting together a jigsaw puzzle, one of them (usually Wendy) would hide a piece to make it impossible for the other to finish. While playing Sequence, Wendy took all of the Jacks out of the deck of cards when Dad was in the bathroom. He got ticked off at never getting any Jacks -- only to find out that she had pulled a fast one on him. They had a lot of fun together. One year, Wendy, Mom, and Dad rented a cottage together up north. Not only did Dad almost slap mom in the face with a fish (she fell onto the floor of the boat to avoid it), but he was given the honor of baiting her hook and removing the fish she caught. I know that Wendy and Mom cherish the memories of days they fished together and enjoyed so much laughter. Vacations at cottages were some of Dad’s most enjoyable vacations.
32: Mom’s Aunt Irma, Uncle Louie, Uncle Butch, and Grandma Lucy would often go and spend weekends with Mom and Dad. Mom tried repeatedly to talk Dad into dressing up as a Bride for Uncle Butch on one of those weekends. Dad refused until the last minute, and then they rushed around getting the bride prepared. They had a blast, of course. Dad had just finished with a customer appreciation picnic when they came up on another weekend. They all finished off the leftover quarter barrel of beer, and then tried to blow up an air mattress while they were three sheets to the wind. Needless to say, they did more laughing than inflating the mattress. Dad and Louie also use to love to eat Louie’s hot peppers. I don’t think eating should be painful, but they loved it. They would eat the hot peppers with tears streaming down their faces. We all grew older, and the grandchildren grew up and started their own lives and families. Cory had grown up and joined the Army reserves. He was deployed to Iraq. When he returned from the first tour, he went back to school. Before graduating, he was deployed for his second tour in Iraq and worked with the Army Corp of Engineers. In October of 2006, Mom and Dad’s first great-grandchild was born. Andy (Bev and Jeff’s son), and his girlfriend Sara, had a little girl named Ella followed by Aida in December of 2009. And in June of 2007, Kassidy was born. Dad’s little darling - Jenni - had a baby! He was very proud to go see his new great granddaughter at the hospital. As she grew, Wendy, Mom, and Dad spent lots of time with Kassidy. Dad and Kassidy became very close. They puzzled together, arm-wrestled, played games, and just hung out together. Papa adored Kassidy. It’s funny how similar she is to Jenni. At a young age they both loved to “style” grandpa’s hair. In September of 2007, Amy married Sean Marquart on September 15th -- Dad’s 75 birthday. They asked the bakery to make a special carrot cake just for him. Then in October of 2009, Jenni married Marty Ferguson. This was another very happy day for Dad, and he was so glad to have been able to see his little Jenni marry the man she loves. While not at work, Dad was constantly working on something! First and foremost was that lawn!! Those weeds would NOT get the best of him; nor would the Japanese Beetles!!! And he would water the lawn in summer all day long to keep it green. His home was his castle and that lawn always had to look good. Then there were the squirrels that kept stealing his bird food. We bought him a few BB guns over the years to ward off the squirrels, and once he got them under control, war was declared against the darn old gophers! He built a gopher trap to catch them and kept count of his captures each year. Wendy has now taken over the gopher patrol. Dad had a hard time keeping the rabbits out of his vegetable garden in the early years in Rapids. He would get so ticked off when he would get up in the morning and see the damage they had done. Wendy told him to wake her up when he saw them, and she would shoot them with her bow and arrow. A few mornings later, he decided to challenge her, as he often did. He said she couldn’t do it. She shot that bunny, and the arrow went through it with so much force that it almost went through their chain link fence. All he could say was “Holy shit!” | Whistle while you work...
33: Second to controlling the animals, if it wasn't home repairs, painting, or feeding the birds, someone ALWAYS had a project for him to do. From my childhood days, I always knew that he could do anything he put his mind to. I had always seen him fixing whatever was broken and building things, but what sealed the deal for me was my hat. I must have been in about the third or fourth grade in school, and Mom had gotten involved in a group that was performing a play. She was at rehearsal one night, and I needed to make a hat out of any items I could find around the house for a school project. I told Dad, and together we created a hat out of a paper plate, a tin can, some material, lace, and some plastic flowers. I was so proud, and knew at that moment that there was absolutely nothing my Dad couldn’t do.
34: It has become a joke in our family that the first suggestion of a project was always met with, "No, it can't be done." But after some prodding from mom, and dad's drawings and assessment; there were very few things that he found impossible. This is where the resourcefulness and tenacity came into play. Over the years, he completed so many projects, I couldn't possibly list them all! In their homes, Mom and Dad were always redecorating. When the time came to remodel the family room in their home in Wisconsin Rapids, Mom wanted it to have an Asian feel, so Dad built her custom Shoji "screens” for all of the windows. Since the windows were not the regular size and shape, this took some planning and designing, but they turned out beautifully. There were only 747 pieces to these screens. Mom always had a flair for the artistic, and when she told Dad that she wanted some custom crown molding put on the ceiling and headboard area in their bedroom, it was met with the usual rolling of his eyes and utterance of “No, it can’t be done.” After over 90 miter cuts, the project was done, and beautiful, as usual. Along with building fencing for the back yard around the holding tanks, the railing around the patio, expanding the patio, landscaping, building birdhouses, etc. he also helped Mom construct a booth for her business Trade Shows, in addition to the many cornices he built for window treatments for her customers. He did almost anything and everything. From the first tables he made in high school, to all of the projects he worked on with Mom, to the stand he created for Wendy to make the floral bouquets on for our wedding, the tomato cages that were transformed into beautiful stands for Wendy’s gorgeous wedding arrangements, and even boxes that he custom-made to fit the flower arrangements. | Family Man
36: There's no life without humor. It can make the wonderful moments of life truly glorious, and it can make tragic moments bearable. | While we lived on Jackson Street, our dog, Mollie gave permission for a weekend bar assembly project when we were away for the weekend at some friends’ wedding. Mom and Dad surprised Joel with a bar for our rec room, which they built in two sections at their house and transported to Oshkosh. The two of them carried it down the stairs in sections to our rec room. In Mollie‘s later years, the rec room became her favorite place, and we hid her biscuits, meds and peanut butter behind the bar. Dad also built a corner shelf unit to use behind the bar, and they helped to finish off our basement bathroom, built a screen to hide the hot water heater in that bathroom, and wired it for lighting. It seems to me that he may have forgotten to turn the electricity off when he started the wiring, and got a few jolts! They worked all weekend until about 2am on Monday to finish the job! And then there is my prized possession -- my Christmas Manger. I asked Dad to build me a little Christmas Manger for my birthday one year. I wanted something special from him that I would be able to keep forever. I think he finished it in two days. When we built our house in Winneconne, he and Mom did all of the window treatments, re-upholstered an ottoman and a bench; built another bench for our laundry room and upholstered it to match the window treatments; not to mention the landscaping. I swear they always had more energy than we ever did! They helped us do all of the landscaping around the entire house. Dad also built a workbench for Joel in our garage, and when I wanted a trellis for the clematis to climb on; he built me a trellis. When Dad was installing the cornice for our middle dormer in our house, he climbed up the 12’ ladder to get to the landing, and put another 4’ ladder on the landing to stand on. I was deathly afraid that he was going to fall, so I stayed up on the 12’ ladder while he was installing it. I thought that if he would fall, he would fall on me, and he wouldn’t get hurt so badly. Jeff started his own business in 2003 and Dad helped him build shelving for storage of Jeff’s inventory, and renovate the building. I know that Dad was also a big help to him in getting his business off the ground in addition to the “construction projects”. And, of course, we can’t forget the toy box that he and Mom built with love for his little sweetheart, Kassidy. The things he built or created over the years are too numerous to mention, but to sum it up; Dad could do anything he put his mind to, and he would never let anything get the best of him. Then he rested. He rested so loudly that we had to keep cranking up the television so we could hear it. Finally, we’d have to wake him up just so he would stop snoring. And he would always say “I wasn’t sleeping. I was just resting my eyes!” Mom learned to find a way to fall asleep before he did, or she would never get to sleep herself. | Hey, Big Boy !
37: A sense of humor... is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.
38: Dad rarely told us how he felt, but his feelings ran deep. He was often the first one to shed a tear at a sentimental moment, as Memorial Day services and visiting the Korean War Memorial in Plover regularly brought him to tears. Years as a gunner’s mate in the U.S Navy took it’s toll on his hearing. Tears welled up in his eyes when he heard the radio play and the birds sing after he finally got hearing aids. He hadn‘t been able to hear well for years, and the first time he heard the doorbell, he exclaimed, “Jesus Christ that’s loud!” | The heart that truly loves never forgets
39: "Hi Sweetheart!" | ... and the fish was five feet long!
40: He had some quirks. He was steadfast to his beliefs, and some would say, a little too unyielding at times. Some call it stubborn; I call it persistent. When Wendy’s car broke down, he drove it two mph for the eight mile trip home. That car was not going to beat him. He almost always had a toothpick in his mouth. He would wear his underwear until it was thread-bare, but why buy new? They still did the job. He wore dark socks with sandals. He loved to cook meat and vegetables on the grill. We all got used to them being a little well done. He called us all Babe, Sweetheart, Love, or Kid. It didn’t matter how old you were -- even his own mother-in-law, Grandma Lucy was Kid. He was quite the movie buff, and once rented Brokeback Mountain. He was excited at his find, as it had won many awards, and quite surprised when they started to watch it. But one of the things I miss the most about him is his sense of humor. He loved to laugh, and tried to find humor in most everything, which was evident in the many stories he told. It was very difficult to separate fact from fiction, as his stories were always steeped in bs. Even his yawns were loud and over-animated. I think he truly enjoyed making other's laugh. He played the role of the bride or bridesmaid for more than one Mock Wedding. It took some sweet-talking from mom to get him to agree, but once in "drag", he had a blast. Playing the "Shit on your Neighbor" version of Sheepshead, (at least that's what he called it), was tons of fun!! He would pick the blinds on the absolute worst hand. Dad could turn just about anything into a joke, even building Jenni and Marty’s card box for their wedding. Apparently Dad’s interpretation of the up and down motion while sanding the wood was enough to get Mom and Wendy laughing hysterically. Dad was also privileged to have taken some trips with his “two favorite blondes“; Mom and her sister, Verna. They went to Red Wing, Minnesota and took a ride on the Lacrosse Queen Riverboat. They also traveled to Mackinac Island, enjoyed the horse drawn carriages clomping past their window all day and night, and visited The Grand Hotel. A highlight of the trip for Dad was visiting a butterfly sanctuary, where he had great fun laughing at all of the butterflies attracted to Mom's landing pad (her chest).
41: GMC Tournament Champ - Rollie Guldan | Jeskey's Plumbing & Heating wins league Championship
42: Captain of his Ship | Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do, and saw it through without exemption. I lived a life that's full. I've traveled each and every byway, but more, much more than this, I did it My Way... | In spring of 2009, Dad was starting to experience some difficulty in breathing when he over-exerted himself. He went to the Dr. and was ultimately diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, due to the years of exposure to asbestos in the Navy and the heating industry. The tests also discovered a small cancerous tumor in his lung. The doctors felt it was best to target the cancer first, and then deal with the Pulmonary Fibrosis afterward. A new type of cancer radiation treatment (Tomotherapy) was suggested by the Oncologist. This was to only damage approximately 5% of the tissue around the tumor. The treatment began in October, and by the end of November his lungs were so badly damaged by the radiation that he had to be put on constant oxygen. He continued to fail physically, but he never stopped fighting. His deteriorating physical condition was very difficult for him to accept as he had always been the strong one; the person to take care of everyone else. He kept his sense of humor up through the end though, as he joked about Jesus driving a taxi cab, and the incompetent nurse, Judy the Flake. Dad passed away at 2:05 am on May 29, 2010. He was truly a blessing in all of our lives. It is impossible to summarize a man's life in these few pages. If some of the details aren’t 100% accurate or if I inadvertently omitted something, I apologize. My hope is that this book will help to keep the memory of the kind of man Dad was alive in all of our hearts. I realize that he had failings like all of us, but in my eyes he was a great man, and I will be forever grateful for the countless ways in which he made our lives richer, and for all of the sacrifices he made along the way.
43: A few days after Dad’s funeral, I was awakened from a sound sleep by someone whispering in my ear, “I’m here.” I was sure that it was Dad’s voice, but thought I must have been dreaming. My friend, Catie, has told me that Dad’s spirit is very strong - one of the strongest that she has ever experienced. Catie has an amazing gift. She receives messages from people who have passed away. Last January, Catie relayed to me that Dad wanted me to take Mom to a special restaurant for their Anniversary. I guessed a few different restaurants, but he told her that it started with an “H”. That would be the Hideaway where they spent their 45th Wedding Anniversary. Many people do not believe that this is possible, however, she has told me so many things that she could not have otherwise known; I have no doubt of its truth. In the fall of 2011, I was talking to Catie on the phone, when she blurted out, “Okay, I’m just going to say it! What do bunnies mean to you? He (Dad) is showing me bunnies, and they are moving, but they aren’t alive!?” I had never told her that I had once given Dad bunny slippers for Christmas as a joke. Earlier that weekend, I was rummaging through my closet for some slippers to keep my feet warm, and came across the bunny slippers, which Dad had returned to me. A big smile came across my face as I remembered Dad modeling them for us. So I began to wear them again. The bunnies that were "moving, but not alive" were the slippers on my feet. I believe this was one of of Dad’s many signs to me that he is still here with us; that he is always watching over us; and that he will always be here. And I believe that it was him whispering in my ear that night. The bunny slippers are getting quite worn, but I will never be able to part with them. | When Angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts. | We can no longer see Dad, ask him for advice, or laugh at his outrageous stories and antics, but he is watching over all of us and continues to guide us throughout our days, as we strive to live by the morals and lessons he has instilled in us. The greatest honor we can show him is to utilize the knowledge that he has conveyed to us; either by his instruction or by his example - learning from his triumphs, as well as his mistakes. This would make him very proud. Dad fought adversity as a young man and won. He started with nothing in this world, and became a successful and highly respected businessman, showered his wife with gifts, gave his family a good life, was charitable to others, and was well traveled. He experienced wonderful things in his life, but always appreciated the natural beauty of flowers, birds, butterflies, sunsets and blue skies. He was a good man with integrity, tenacity, and strength of character. He was proud of his work ethic; Proud that what he had in life was not handed to him; it was earned through hard work, resilience, and determination. He did not ask much of this world... A good wife to love him, the love and respect of his family; and a modest home. But he gave us all so much more. He was an ever-constant, integral part of all of our lives. | Kassidy Ferguson | He was our Hero; our Rock; our Safe Harbor in a storm; our Comic Relief - showing us that life doesn’t always have to be taken so seriously; our Compass when we lost our way; our proof that real men can cry, yet remain a tower of strength; our “Go-to-Guy“; our Mentor; Trusted Friend; Counselor; Teacher ... Our Treasured Oak Tree