Column: Make sure people know how special they are

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By: 

Lorna Marquardt

During our lifetime, each of us had others who did something or said something that influenced us, motivated us or in some way helped shape our life. I hope you will take a few minutes to think about who those people were/are in your life.

If that special person/persons are still living, think about telling them and thanking them. I will always remember a letter I received from someone who I hired and supervised at the bank. Her letter meant the world to me. It made me think about people who touched my life in a special way.

One of those people was a teacher, Lillian Abrahamson. You readers in the Tigerton area no doubt remember her. She was an amazing lady. Mrs. Abrahamson approached me when I was a freshman at Marion High School. She was an English teacher and also a forensic coach.

Mrs. Abrahamson encouraged me to join the forensic team. She told me she thought I would enjoy writing four-minute speeches and delivering them. I reluctantly joined but was somewhat skeptical. I remember writing a speech about racism. I delivered the speech at State and with her support and encouragement received a first place.

She also asked me to be in plays. She selected me to play the role of Lady McBeth. “Out damn spot, out I say.” I will always remember that experience. It gave me self-confidence and courage to speak in front of others.

A few years before her death in 2016, after I received the touching letter from a former employee, I decided to contact Mrs. Abrahamson. I wrote her a letter. I explained I had been a student of hers and asked her if she would join me for lunch one day. To my absolute delight, she accepted my invitation and even traveled to Shawano to join me.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to tell her how much her encouragement and support meant to me. I told her, as mayor, I had to write several speeches, and her mentoring gave me the inspiration to both write and deliver them.

My brother, Pat Robenhagen, passed away last month. A few weeks before he passed away, my hubby and I went to Marion to visit him and his wife, Rozanne. We had a wonderful visit. We talked about our childhoods and what it was like growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s. Little did I know at the time it would be our last visit.

Pat talked about someone he remembered from his childhood, police officer Louis Weigel. Pat recalled Officer Weigel rode a three-wheel silver Harley Davidson motorcycle. He had a baseball glove that he hung on the cycle. When he saw kids, he would stop and play catch with them. Pat said he was a friend of kids all over town and they were excited when they saw him coming down the street. Imagine that, my brother never forgot that simple act of friendship and kindness. My brother was only 9 or 10 years old at the time, and here he was, 79 years old and still cherishing that memory.

I told him many who read my articles enjoy hearing about life in the ’50s and ’60s. I asked him if he would write down some of his memories. He said he would do that and put them in the mail for me. I waited and nothing came. I thought perhaps he had forgotten or decided against it.

However, the day of his funeral, his wife, Rozanne, said to me, “Lorna, Pat wrote things down for you in a notebook. I am going to make a copy of his notes for myself and one for each of the boys. I will send you the original someday soon.”

To my delight, the envelope arrived last week. I smiled through my tears as I read the things that he wrote. Someday I will share some of those memories with you readers.

When we returned home from our visit with my brother and sister-in-law, my hubby went upstairs. He came down with a small wooden box. Inside were many newspaper clippings of track meets he participated in. Also, in the box was a certificate. It was issued by the state of Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Department. It was issued to my hubby in 1958 for his service as a patrolman of the Junior High School Safety Patrol. It was signed by Mayor Emil Juedes, Governor Vernon W. Thomson and the head of the school safety patrol, Officer Louis R. Weigel. Hubby said Officer Weigel had selected him as the captain of the safety patrol.

Looks like Officer Weigel meant a lot to many young people. I hope someone told him how special he was.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.