WW II Vet Bob Fiehler

SS Robert Fiehler layoutOne of the first people I met at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum was volunteer Bob Fielher. At the time, I just thought he was a nice guy who knew a lot about area history.

I wish I had recorded some of this stories. Unfortunately, Bob died of cancer in 2009, and I missed the opportunity. Over the years, I have gotten to know his son Gerard, and Gerard has done a great job of keeping his memories alive.

Gerard tells about a boy who had never been further than St. Louis, who was drafted at 18; drove a tank in the Battle of the Bulge at 19; won a Purple Heart; stayed in Germany as a translator during the Occupation, and then returned to Altenburg to work in the family garage.

“He had lived a whole lifetime …”

“He had lived a whole lifetime by the time he was 20 years old,” Gerard observed.

This is a video worth watching on Veterans Day.

Howard Bock Changed My Life

Howard Bock CHS 23 When I ran across this portrait of Howard Bock it got me to thinking about a post I did about him on my bike blog when he died. It’s worth revisiting and revising. You can click on the photo to make it larger. I really like it.

Howard Gilbert Bock, 87, lifelong resident of Cape Girardeau, died Monday, May 11, 2009.

It was a longish obituary by most standards because he had a much more active life than I ever knew.

B-26 Engineer Gunner in WWII

The quiet-spoken man had been an engineer gunner on B-26s in World War II. You would never know from talking with him that he had he been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, five air medals, American Defense Medal and campaign ribbons (Battle of Europe, Battle of the Rhineland and Battle of Ardennes-The Bulge).

Howard BockHe had been a teacher, coach and administrator for 32 years.

The Bocks lived on my newspaper route (on the left side of the road on a downhill stretch; they didn’t have any special requests, so I could fling and wing without slowing down). Jo Ann Bock, his wife, was my Cub Scout den mother.

When I was 12 years old, our family took a vacation / business trip to Florida. (Dad was looking for construction equipment to buy.) He gave me a Kodak Tourist II folding camera and I fell in love with photography.

When I was a high school freshman, I discovered the debate club, which caused photography to take a back seat.

My partner and I were undefeated for the year, so I thought law and politics were in my future. (You’ve heard me tell about why I abandoned politics.)

Do you want to join photo staff?

Howard Bock CHS 24Mr. Bock approached me one day, said he had heard that I was interested in photography and wondered if I might like to join the newspaper and yearbook photo staffs.

Darkroom was our special place

Cape Giradeau Central High School Girardot Photo Staff 1965I don’t know that I gave it much thought, but I joined the staff and learned how to process film and make prints in a tiny darkroom on the second floor down near the science classrooms. There wasn’t enough room to swing a cat, but we photographers had a key to the darkroom and it was our special place to hang out between classes.

It wasn’t long before I was freelancing for the local papers and discovering that being a photographer doing exciting things was more fun than the prospect of doing dull lawyer research. I can thank Mr. Bock for sending me off on a career path that was satisfying and rewarding. You never know where the ripples are going to go when you drop a pebble in the pond.

Uncle Milty and General O

Two of Central High School’s other science teachers were equally colorful and were war veterans of note.

Paul Kaempfer, 1922 – 2002

Paul Kaempfer at Cape Airport 11-19-1966I could have sworn this photo of Paul Kaempfer ran in The Missourian some time around November 19, 1966, but I couldn’t find it in the Google archives. In fact, except for a couple of short briefs, I couldn’t find much on Paul.

Paul Kaempfer died Nov. 17, 2002

The Missourian DID carry his obituary on November 18, 2002.

Paul E. Kaempfer, 80, of Cape Girardeau died Sunday, Nov. 17, 2002, at Southeast Missouri Hospital.

 He was born June 19, 1922, in Cape Girardeau, son of the late Fred A. and Ruby Barks Kaempfer. He and Betty Waddill were married Dec. 4, 1944, in Kirksville, Mo.

World War II vet

Paul Kaempfer at Cape Airport 11-19-1966 He was a World War II veteran with the U.S. Air Force.

 He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church and St. Mark’s Lodge No. 93 AF & AM in Cape Girardeau.

Worked at Southeast Hospital 30 years

Paul Kaempfer at Cape Airport 11-19-1966

 After working 30 years as plant engineer at Southeast Missouri Hospital, he retired in 1986.

 He was also a member of Cape Council No. 20, Cape Girardeau Commandary No. 55, St.Mark’s Chapter No. 167 OES, Cape Shrine Club/ Moolah Temple AAONMS, and a past member of Cape Pilot Club.

Survivors include his wife; two sons, Larry E. Kaempfer of Cape Girardeau and Jim F. Kaempfer of Gordonville; a daughter, Nancy C. Strauser of Cape Girardeau; a stepsister, Lois Flannery of Jackson; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Garage with graffiti

Paul Kaempfer at Cape Airport 11-19-1966I see some “Larry Kaempfer” and “L.E.K” graffiti scrawled on the wall of the garage, so I’m assuming that’s Paul’s son. You can click on the photos to make them larger.