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The Man Who Made a Difference

The Man Who Made a DifferenceThe Man Who Made a Difference
By Karla Schmit Mc Clone

“The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” Leo Rosten

Babe Seidl made a difference in many lives in Seymour. Through his dedication to the community as a civic leader, volunteer fireman, sports enthusiast, husband, father, grandfather, neighbor and friend.

He made a huge difference in my life that could only be appreciated as I got older. My first memory of Babe was when I was 8 years old. I did not know this man nor did I like him, because he was about to make a difference in my life.

My life was pretty good for a girl with 3 younger brothers, living on Howard St in Green Bay. I had friends, I was in 3rd grade at St. Patrick’s school and I had my treasured library card from the Fort Howard Library. I loved that library, a big old house with lots of stories in it.

At the time, my parents were looking at buying a different house. I would have to change schools, but that was okay, because I wouldn’t have to wear uniforms to school any longer, but most importantly, I would still live close enough to the library.

Then one evening a man came to our home that made a difference. Everything changed. We were moving to Seymour. Seymour…how could that happen? What about the new house, the new school, what about my library card. Seymour was so far away. I hated crossing the bridge in Oneida. Did Seymour have a library?

There were tears when the For Sale sign went up in front of our house, tears when we said good-bye to our friends, assuring them that we most certainly would be back, and there were tears when I told the librarian not to throw my library card away because I was sure we would move back.

Ever since Babe became ill and moved to the Good Shepherd Home, I had been thinking about the night the stranger came to our door in Green Bay and the difference that he made in my life and that of my family.

The Seidl’s, Babe and Ellie, have always been an integral part of my life in Seymour. Friends of my parents soon became family. That tradition lives on with my family and friends. Smitty and Babe, along with their friends, spent their times at Legion Baseball games, Bobcat Hockey games, and bowling to name a few events. Together they were volunteer fireman, Legion and VFW members.

And then there were Packer Sundays. If they were not attending the game, they were with their friends watching it in someone’s living room, screaming at Lombardi and Starr for missed plays or intercepted passes. Years later, I too understood that Sunday afternoon obsession.

Babe and Ellie were there for the fun family events, especially Christmas Eves at the Schmit house. But more importantly they were there for the rough times. Mom didn’t have to worry about us being fed and cared for when she never left my brother’s side when he was hospitalized for weeks. Ellie came to the rescue to baby-sit my 10-day-old daughter when I was admitted for appendicitis. Then of course, when my dad was sick.

It was important to us that when it was time to take dad to the hospital that he was surrounded by family and friends. It was Ron that we called to assist in the ambulance transport. After 2 days of waiting for the inevitable at the hospital, we realized that dad was waiting to say good-bye to his buddies. Once the Seidls and Johnsons arrived to say their farewells, peace came to him.

I was so afraid at the time. Babe and I sat alone in the stairwell at the hospital the day before my dad died. I told Babe that I needed to leave to buy dad a new suit to be buried in because his was going to be too big and wouldn’t fit, but I was afraid to leave. Babe talked to me for a long time, calmed my fears and told me not to worry and that my dad did not need a new suit. Babe explained why and that everything would be taken cared for. I trusted him and he was right. Again, he made a difference in my life.

I will never know how different my life would have been if the stranger, Babe Seidl, hadn’t come to the door of our house in Green Bay one evening, long ago. But I do know this; because the stranger came to the door my life has been blessed and was different. I could go on and on about the differences he made in my life, but I am just one small part of the differences Babe made on people’s lives in Seymour.

Babe and Ellie Seidl have lived their lives with laughter, compassion, commitment and love. They have made a difference. My life is a reflection of my parent’s lives and that of their friends and the difference they made. I hope to honor them all by following in their footsteps with hopes of making a difference.

I did move away for a while, but Seymour was home and I moved back got married, raised my family and got a new Library Card.

Karla Schmit McClone, April 2009

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