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Have won an award ONE HELL OF A MAN

Story ID:550
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Gilboa New York United States
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Thick, powerful arms paralleled his barrel chest. Semi-bald, graying dark hair topped a rectangular shaped head sporting a large nose, a thick, dark beard and the most piercing hazel eyes. Those eyes could see right through a person, and hold them in an almost hypnotic state.

A pipe or a cigar was usually clamped in his teeth on the left side of his mouth. His voice, a deep bass that rolled and rumbled, like distant thunder, carried clearly for great distances. His physical strength, though legendary, was equally matched by the strength of his character.

His mind soaked up knowledge like a thirsty sponge and he constantly shared that knowledge with others. He was a vocational agriculture teacher who after forty years of teaching never had a student fail the state regent’s exam. It is a record I believe has never been equaled.

A tremendous heart had this man, constantly helping other people. He taught them better, cheaper and healthier ways. Each year he filled out personal income tax forms for about three hundred people, never accepting payment.

Always active in the community, he supported his church by lay preaching, singing in the choir, serving on the board, making repairs, and making gifts of great worth.

Among the many loves of his life were his God, his family and his community. He loved communing with nature and understood it as few do. He loved deer hunting, going fishing and raising a garden.

Building things was another love. He was always building something for the school, for a child or a needy person, and sometimes a building or two. He built at least three houses.

He was fascinated with mathematics, and for recreation he played with calculus, trigonometry and algebra. Learning and teaching came naturally to him. He had graduated magna cum laude from college in three years instead of four. In his spare time he got a law degree, not to practice law, but to guide him in his own affairs. He was well informed in many fields and his advice was sought constantly, by people in all walks of life.

Another love was free masonry and he achieved the thirty second degree. Unlike most who specialize in one level, he was very active in all levels at once.

This man, greatly loved by his community, was highly respected far and wide. The largest crowd ever assembled at the local church came for his funeral. People came from all over the country and some from Canada.

This was the greatest and most remarkable person I have ever known. I am proud to say he was my Dad!

After his death we found in his wallet, a poem he had written in pencil on a piece of lumber company pad. It summed up his philosophy we had come to know well, and I read it at his funeral.


Maybe I’m kind of old fashioned –
Maybe I’m trailing the rest –
But somehow I cling to the theory
That whatever happens is best -
Best if we know how to use it,
If we know just what lesson to take –
Best if we know what each happening means’
And out of it just what we make.
In looking back down the trail of the years,
I can very clearly see
That so many things were not for the best
Which I want heartbreakingly;
And too, I can see where the “bitter pills”
With which some phases were filled,
Were the very cornerstone on which
I eventually found I could build.
Friends that you thought you would die without;
You found in the hard, long run,
Were not the ones that you need at all,
But belonged just to days of fun.
Think back now and see if the hardest days
Were not richer than all the rest –
When you’ve conquered your fears
And learned through your tears
That whatever happens is best.

The first photo is of my Dad in his Shriners Fezz

The second photo is of an 8 X 12 foot painting given by him to the local church.

The third photo is of my Dad teaching a class at the Gilboa-Conesville School.