|Engineering certificate of William Charles Nilges.|
I return, though, whenever I'm in Kalamazoo, because I manage to unearth a treasure on each visit. Yesterday it was a framed certificate. Issued in 1953, it declared William Charles Nilges a mechanical engineer in the State of Ohio. Its Machine Age design delights me. Though I suspect the anonymity of its recipient will hurt its prospects at Laura's Last Ditch, with a no-risk price of $3.98, I rolled the dice.
This evening, Googling "William Charles Nilges," I discovered his obituary. It took a mere month from the day he died at the age of 93 for his certificate to find its way into the shopping cart that I, with difficulty, wended through NuWay's disorganized aisles. "Bill" came from a family of ten. His wife died in '94. He held several patents for hydraulic pumps and owned a Volkswagen dealership. He served in World War II, and built steam-powered toys for nieces and nephews.
Survived by only two elderly brothers and dying childless, no niece or nephew--steam-powered toys notwithstanding--bothered to claim his mechanical engineering certificate. Feeling a sort of connection to him, I cried. Yet, there was light in one line of his obituary: "Ministering to Bill for many years have been Cathy and Jim Seiser, neighbors with huge hearts and much love." Maybe the detritus of his life went to NuWay, but he was not without friends.
|Our dear neighbor, Walter.|
With my only child having autism, I am likely to have no grandchildren, no descendants. Some day when I die, though few may remain to mourn my passing, I want written in my obituary, "She was a neighbor with a huge heart and much love." One who ministered. One who visited neighbors in the nursing home.
My earthly treasures may end up in a heap at the worst secondhand store in town, but my life will have mattered.