Chapter 4 Retirement
My wife in 1967 suffered a heart attack but she came out very well. We traveled to Palm Springs in March, to Salzburg every year in July and August and we lived very comfortably and could do everything that we wanted. In 1978 we had a fiftieth wedding anniversary and we went to Norway, and took a beautiful trip through the fjords. We went on the Rhine, from Rotterdam to Basel and we went to Salzburg to the festival, all in one summer. In 1980 my wife suffered a stroke and was in very bad condition but Thank God she recovered from the stroke. We had nurses day and night. But in 4 months she miraculously had a fantastic recovery with no sign of having had a stroke. We had an apartment in Hilton Head--it was Otto's but we used it--and we went every month. On November 13, 1981 she complained that she felt bad and we called her an ambulance to the hospital in the night and two weeks later she died. That was the biggest tragedy in my life after the loss of my son, Andrew, in 1971. I did not know how I could live without my wife; we were married 54 years.
Otto could not recover from the great loss that he suffered through the death of his brother so he was not able to function according to his abilities and knowledge. So he moved to Hilton Head Island and tried to recover. This took him about four years before he again was ready to work. Four years later he took a job in Jonesville, S.C. with the Wellman Industries. He soon got the very important job of opening the European-Asian market for raw materials. It was a very interesting life for him and he was traveling most of the time.
In the meantime in 1983 Otto's friend and boss, John Wellman, sold his interest to his brother at a relatively low price. He and his sons left the plant and so did Otto. John Wellman and Otto had a revolutionary idea for the production of a new type of yarn, also made from waste. The beginning of a new business is always very difficult and this time it was more difficult because they did not have the necessary capital. Mr. Wellman tried to get it from everywhere; in the meantime Otto worked out the complete technical details about the new form of production and moved to Georgetown, S.C. where they opened a small plant. Later the plan was changed and he moved to Conway S.C. where the conditions in the labor market were better.
In 1987 when I received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree from Wofford College, my son Otto was overwhelmed and happy. There seems to be a tragic pattern in my life, for my Andrew was so happy in March 27, 1971 when he opened the Wofford College Library named after me. But six weeks later, as I mentioned before, he died with a severe heart attack. Then my son Otto, who was for me everything in the whole world and was so happy on the occasion of my honorary degree, on June 10 suffered a near fatal heart attack. I cannot explain but I have a feeling that there is a connection between the two tragedies. Professor W. H. Hendricks of the S.C. Medical School in Charleston told us that Otto could not have any bypass surgery because the damage was too extensive. So they started certain experimental drugs. The first two drugs were effective, but the manufacturing of them ceased because the manufacturers could not afford to continue to produce them. The third drug from Japan was not so effective but still it kept Otto active and you could not tell from his actions that he was a sick man. He was very good at hiding that fact. But the pressures of trying to begin a new plant put a tremendous stress on him. On February 16 [of 1990] I spent three days with him; I left him on the 18th and on the 23rd he wanted to go to Georgetown from Conway to his dentist, but on his way he suffered a fatal heart attack and he died in the car.
Ann, Otto's wife, moved back to Raleigh where she had a house which needed much renovation. She has had to care for her very sick mother and has faced very many difficulties. She enrolled in a very fine school for ten months to learn paralegal work, and she is doing very, very well in her studies.
Otto's death meant to me a break in the history of my family. I spoke to Otto every night and that conversation represented tome the wholeness of the family--my wife, my Otto, my Andrew and all their family members. I now speak to Otto's wife Ann every night and will continue to do that as long as I am alive. It seems to me that there is a pattern in my tragic life where both sons died in a short time after a period of great happiness. After that, what happens to a father? Now I live without my wife and sons. I have a number of friends. I am blessed with Wofford College; thank God I am able to move and to go five times a week to attend classes; my favorite classes are history, philosophy, and art. Then I have the great happiness to have wonderful professors who are very nice to me and who appreciate my knowledge of this century, especially in the history classes. Because I am an 88 year old man I basically represent the whole century. The whole Wofford campus is for me a savior. I try to get away every day about 9:30 AM. I go to school at Wofford College and attend classes. Lunch I usually spend in the city or with my friends but in the afternoon I am alone and suffer from loneliness. Every day I go to the library for two or three hours and I see my dear friend, Mr. Coburn, who is head of the library now. And he does everything to help me to get the books that I need and want to read. Then when that half day is over I go home. I am able to get over my loneliness because I am still able to read books but not novels or light reading but biographies and history books.
I have a few very dear younger friends (actually, mostly persons in their sixties and seventies) and I know they will be with me in case I would need them. We have lunch together and I am from time to time invited to their homes. There are two men who have always been especially helpful to me and my family. Mr. Lachlan Hyatt and Mr. H. Carlisle Bean have been both business associates and personal friends; even now they continue to give me their advice and help. But the closest to me is my relative Frank Goran who was the husband of my niece, Nada. When he returned from a Russian prison camp and did not find anyone alive--his wife, his parents--he remarried and went to Israel. He had a beautiful little girl and I arranged for him to come to Canada. Since 1963 he was with me in King's Mountain. In 1966 he joined Butte in a high capacity and was with Otto in Ireland. His second wife died the same year as my wife in 1981. Now he is re-married to a very fine lady and he is very happy. For me he represents my former life. He helps to look after me and he makes me feel very secure.
I am still involved in the holocaust and studying and reading very often about this tragedy, in my heart and in my life I suffered very much from the holocaust, losing all my family and it was an unbelievable fate that I could escape the holocaust. I continue to be very much interested in what happened in that time-1940-44, especially in Hungary. But I am lucky to have a wonderful housekeeper, Mrs. Evelyn Payden who was eighteen years in our home. She was with my late wife eight years so she knows all the customs and the way to prepare my meals which she learned from my wife.
I am very much blessed with my family. I have 6 grandchildren. Otto and Ann had two daughters--Vicky and Kathy. Vicky now lives in Wilmington, N. C. and is looking for a good gob and Kathy lives with Ann and has a proper job. She is a very intelligent girl. Andrew and Jane had four children. Robin lives in Greenville and is working in advertising. David lives in Atlanta and is married to a very beautiful and dear woman. They have two beautiful sons, Dana who is 3 years old and Nicky who is 1 year old. Davis has a very lucrative job in an investment company and he is a C.P.A. Thomas lives a very happy life in Columbia; he is happily married and has a 1 year old son named Patrick. Susan, the younger girl, lives in Florence and is married to a nice German young man. Both are involved in a special school for retarded children.
And here it becomes especially difficult to explain my life. How could a cripple man be successful in his life and could save his family during the terrible holocaust? We were the only four people in our town who were not deported. How is it that I feel that I was not embittered or scarred by the experiences of my condition in my childhood and of the horrors of my adult life in Yugoslavia and Hungary? I think something must be in my soul that I never envied or hated a healthy man. The people who worked for me in the big plant which I and my brother built felt toward me as father, and that feeling and loyalty I have been able to create all of my life. I do not know why this is so, but in spite of all the tragedy of my life, I do know that whatever kindness I have shown others has been returned to me.
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