Kurt Helmut Waldmann Sr.
Kurt Helmut Waldmann Sr., died on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009, at Ashland Community Hospital, with all four children and a granddaughter around him, at age 83. He went peacefully and swiftly, leaving a big hole in our hearts.
Everyone feels their dad is special, and this man really was. A German immigrant at a young age after his parents, Paul and Anna, lost everything in WWl, he was a quick learner of English and everything else. He saved nickels for weeks to buy hardbound "Books of Knowledge" that fed his early and life-long interest in history and science. He and a pal hand-wrote and illustrated a newspaper about the big ships coming and going from his hometown of Hoboken, N.J. He became good enough at baseball to try out for the N.Y. Giants. He joined the Army during WWll and befriended Italians and Germans as a rehab instructor for amputee POWs. Not content to be the first kid from Hoboken High to go to college, he went to Yale, on the GI Bill.
Dad loved a good prank, (we really thought his hair blew off in a car race), and told great jokes with style. He was crazy about his family, loved all our many pets, and boy could he grow tomatoes. He encouraged us in photography (self-portrait above), art, golf, swimming, woodworking, art, history, business, and writing, all interests and talents of his, and also shared his love of jazz and all music. Dad never paid a bill late and never got a traffic ticket and was equally at home living in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, and the Rogue Valley, where he spent his last years. His handshake was firm, his speech was deliberate, and when Dad looked you in the eye, you knew you were being looked at. He would agree with Mark Twain that "heaven must be nice, but when I die I'd rather be with my friends." He'd stay home from church to make the pancakes we came home to. Kurt did believe in friendship and cultivated numerous life-long bonds including Leslie Junker, from grade school, Bill Ewart, from his career in the steel business, and fellow Yalee, Jim Mourkas, who he talked to almost daily until the end. Our mom Jane was the love of his life and his wife for 54 years til her death in 2007; how bittersweet that they were reunited on Valentine's Day.
Kurt is greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of experiencing his dry humor and genuine love. Surviving him are his children Linda Oriana Spratt of Ashland OR, Kurt Waldmann Jr. of Palm Springs CA, Mary Waldmann Boucher of Talent OR, and Doug Waldmann of Atlanta GA; as well as grandkids Lowell, Paul, and Brian Mead of San Francisco, CA: Samuel Bayne Stevenson of Craftsbury VT; Clara and Maggie Waldmann of Atlanta GA, and Olivia Boucher of Talent OR. "We all still love you, Dad"