Monday, June 24, 2013

Thank You, Julius

Julius and Marie

I met him in 1999 or 2000. I truly don't remember which. I was at St. Mary's Cemetery, as was more common in those days, documenting more headstones, photographing, cleaning. He was watering some flowers and visiting his deceased wife, Marie. He struck up a conversation and we chatted for a while.

Julius and Carolyn

My love for him began that day and grew. For the many who have made me feel like an outcast in the quest for genealogical history, he always made me feel like family.  And not the second-cousin, twice-removed that we were. He always made me feel like close family.

Julius and Marie and family

So did the rest of his family. I know he advocated for me and my genealogical cause to some who were reticent, uninterested, unwilling to give me a chance. I found out that his wife, whom I never met, was also a genealogist. I suppose that was my "in" with the family. That and my charming Bengel personality. ;-)

Julius and Marie and family

I hosted the first Bengel reunion in 2001. He was in attendance and very supportive. In January 2002, he turned 80 years old. A massive birthday party was held in his honor. And he made sure I was invited.

Julius and family

Of course, Steve and I went. I felt so honored to be included.


I'm grateful that his children know how devastated I would have been if I had missed the funeral and they made sure I knew. Thank you, Nancy, for knowing there was a problem when I didn't respond to your email. Thank you, Dave, for messaging me to make sure I was aware.

Julius and Marie and family

Thank you, Julius, for being you. For loving and respecting me and my genealogical quest. For treating me like close family instead of distant family. For helping me. For welcoming me into your home. For sharing your family with me. For being you. For being my stand-in grandpa. I love you. And I'll miss you deeply at the next reunion.

Julius and Marie

Julius and Me at his 80th Birthday Party

Rest In Peace
January 6, 1922 ~ June 21, 2013

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