John Wahlers | CaringBridge

John Wahlers

First post: 7/9/2016 Latest post: 7/14/2016
Our Dad is strong and determined!  He is a fighter!  He was born in Germany in 1941.  Life was not easy.   The house he grew up in was damaged by bombs dropped during the war.  His mother pulled up the carpeting to use as a makeshift roof.  His father was held as a prisoner of war.  His parents wanted a better life for him and his brother, Al.  His parents decided to emigrate to the US to start a better life.  Before leaving Germany, the family had to have a sponsor in the US as well as jobs lined up.  My grandfather opened Miller Bakery in Miller Beach, IN and my uncle had an apprenticeship as a plumber.  Shortly after arriving in Miller Beach, dad began school knowing no English.  My grandparents learned English in the evenings.  My grandparents told my dad they would not speak English in the home since they were in America.  They were proud and enjoyed their new life in the States.

Dad served in the Navy and was stationed in Naples, Italy.  Dad met Mom and they were married on August 31, 1963.  Their first born, Kathi came along on Mom's birthday 2 years later!  Mom and Dad wanted to have three children separated by fours years apart.  Having twins put a wrench in their plans.  Laura and Bill joined the family the day the men landed on the moon!  Even though they were fraternal twins, early on Dad was known to get us mixed up.

Early in Dad's career, he was a salesman for Coca-Cola which we loved!  We got to try all the new flavors and liked to play soda shop!  It explains our love of Diet Coke and dislike of Pepsi.  Later on Dad was a counselor for runaway youth.  He made a big impact on the teenagers that came through the runaway shelter in downtown Gary.  Dad has a big personality and an even bigger laugh!  We like to joke that he doesn't know any strangers because he makes friends instantly.  We always have to plan on getting places a little later than planned because he will strike up conversations with everyone he meets.  Dad and Mom became defacto parents to all of our friends.  We were the house where everyone congregated.  We called it the Kool-Aid house (you'd have to be a product of the 80's when they had Kool-Aid commercials to understand).  

Dad loved sports!  The Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Blackhawks, White Sox, IndyCar racing, IU Men's Basketball, and FC Schalke 04.  The only sport he wasn't a fan of was golf much to my grandfather's dismay!  We have lots of great memories driving to Chicago on Sundays for White Sox double-headers and listening to murder mysteries on the radio on the way home.  

Dad loved music; classical, opera, show tunes!  We have a picture of Dad directing the orchestra (aka mom's plants) in his bathrobe in the living room of the house on Oak Avenue.  Dad let us skip school one day a year with him.  Dad and I took the South Shore train into Chicago to see Chorus Line.  We were in heaven!  Dad sang in the church choir and had a fabulous baritone voice.  Dad and I once went to a Josh Groban concert at Deer Creek and loved it!  It was kinda our thing.

Dad has four grandchildren: Connor, Ethan, Abby, and August.  He lights up when they are around and they reward him with laughs, love, and lots of hugs!  He has made a lot of memories with them that they will carry with them for a lifetime.  

Most of all, Dad loves Mom!  They have been married 52 years with their 53rd anniversary approaching in August.  You can see it in the way they hold hands or they way they greet each other--it's that look in their eyes!  It's the kindness and gentleness that follows.  They taught us what love looks like and how to treat one another.  

There is so much more I could tell you about my Dad but then this would turn into 100 pages so I'll stop here for now but I have lots of stories to tell.

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