As another of my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s birthday has arrived, I find myself unable to believe that he has been in Heaven for over six years now. Today, he would have been 90 years old. Somehow, I can’t imagine that he could have been that old…mostly, I suppose, because he never really acted like an old man. He always seemed young and full of life. He was busy and always working on some project. I know he slowed down some in the last year or so of his life, but it still didn’t strike me that he was growing older. Maybe because I saw him just about every day in those last few years. You somehow don’t see what is right in front of you when you are there every day. He always seemed the same vibrant workaholic that I had know all the years that he was my father-in-law.
He was a happy man, who had a great sense of humor and loved life. He cherished every grandchild and great grandchild as they came along, and I know he would have loved his great great granddaughter too. I wish they could have met. They would have gotten along splendidly. He was always a family man, and there was nothing that was more important to him than his kids and grandkids. He loved to make things for them, and was thrilled as they played with each new toy. His craftwork was in many ways, ahead of its time. He loved to tinker in the garage, and his craft barn, where he created his unique designs, and got them read to give to someone, or to sell at one of the craft fairs.
His crafts were great, but he was a great builder too. He built the family home in the country, in the late 70s, and dressed up the house they had in town, after they moved. He refurbished lawn chairs with a fresh new classic design, that made them more a showpiece than a lawn chair. And he also built puzzles for people to try their luck at. Some of them were quite difficult to solve. I think it was all a part of the kid in him and maybe that’s why he never seemed to age. I think you have to grow up to age…don’t you? I will never forget the years that I was blessed to have Walt Schulenberg as my father-in-law. He made life fun, and he always made a person feel loved. I always knew where I stood with him…and it was a great place to be. A place of honor and respect, and yes, a place of fun and laughter too. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad!! We love and miss you very much.
With each passing year, I find it harder to believe that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg is no longer with us. He was such a big part of our lives. We always knew that if we needed help with anything, he would be there. He was such a hard working man, and never seemed to give up on something until it was done.
Dad spent many years working at Pathfinder Mines in Shirley Basin before they were set and he left there for other jobs. He was a mechanic by trade and he could fix just about anything that was broken. It didn’t matter if it was a car, truck, or heavy equipment, and even lawnmowers. If it was mechanical, he could handle it. I’m sure the mines owners were sorry to see him go, but the writing was on the wall, and it was time.
I think that his retirement years were his favorites though. He loved going down to Yuma, Arizona to escape the cold Wyoming winters. He loved wandering around the desert looking for things like rocks, or any other thing that he might turn into a thing of beauty. Dad was not only mechanically minded, but he had a real knack fir crafts too. Among them were his many gag items, that always seemed to be best sellers at craft fairs. He made puzzles that people hade to try to disassemble and then try to reassemble. Some of them were quite hard. He also made children’s toys and wind driven whirlybirds. Those things sold well, but I think the thing that he was most famous for was the lawn chairs he rebuilt using colored cords to make a pattern. They sold like hot cakes.
All those were things that people remembered him for, but I will always remember him for his kind heart, his love of family, and especially the little ones. He loved being a dad and grandpa, and of course, husband to his wife of 64 years at his passing, Joann Knox Schulenberg, aka Mom. Dad’s passing left a hole in our lives that we will always feel. We love and miss you Dad, and we can’t wait to see you again in Heaven.
When you have known someone a long time, you assume that you know pretty much everything about them. That is not always the case, however. Sometimes, you learn great things about people after the have passed away. Such was the case with my father-in-law. I always knew that he was a very capable mechanic. He had also trained himself to do cement work, carpentry, and masonry work…building their house himself back in the 70’s, when my girls were just little toddlers. His skill in building that home amazed me. He just instinctively knew how to do it…or so it seemed to me at the time, and maybe it was so. People sometimes to have a skill they just come by naturally, and without any real training.
I also knew of all his craft skills. He could re-weave lawn chairs with the design of the person’s choice, and he could make lawn decorations, such as whirligigs, birdhouses, and tin men. He was well known around Casper, and even had a story written about him in the Casper Star Tribune. All that work kept him pretty busy in his retirement years, and with his passing there have been a lot of people who miss him very much…you see, part of his charm was that he didn’t just make something and sell it to y0u, he talked to you…got to know you…and made you his friend.
Still, when you are a self taught, jack of all trades, one would expect that the work you do is…along the lines of simple…nothing elaborate. With my father-in-law, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When I was looking through the pictures we took from his home, I came across some pictures of masonry work he did while Snow Birding in Arizona. He was never a man to sit around and do nothing, so even though he was supposed to be retired…and relaxing, here he was building patios, steps, and garden enclosures in Arizona. I suppose that the fact that the work was done in Arizona, and the fact that my father-in-law was never a man to brag on himself, makes it a little less surprising that I didn’t know about this work.
When I looked at the pictures of the work he had done, it occurred to me that I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did. Here was a very talented man…self taught, to be sure, but amazing well taught too. The work is beautiful, I’m sure you will agree. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 84th birthday, and it is the first his family has spent without him. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad!! I know it will be a great day!! We love and miss you very much!!