Thursday, February 03, 2000

Uncle Joe - words from my dad (Leo M. Rauterkus) about his big brother, Joe

Joseph A. Rauterkus, Jr.

Born: June 21, 1922
Died: Feb. 3, 2000

For Big Bro

I'm here because the one we are paying tribute to my Big Brother. But he was more. He was my mentor, my friend. He love me, and was great to be around. He has always been something special.

Joe was a great loving father who encouraged every one at every turn. He was non-judgemental - and even though he was given much reason to -- he never raised his voice.

Joe lived life to the fullest. He had extreme faith in God which spread to all around him. He was a fine teacher who managed to teach even if you weren't in his classroom. I venture to say that most of you were never in his classroom but if you knew Joe very well, he taught you many of the important things about life.

Joe loved to be involved with people, no matter what they were doing. He thoughly enjoyed vending at the ball park. That's where the action was. And it was another opportunity to serve ... to teach ... to be on stage as when pushing ice cream as with 'The Ice Man Cometh.' Oh, sure, you could get a bag of peanutes for $.35 at teh Giant Eagle, but these are "older, more mature Ball Park Peanutes -- $2.25, please. Here, enjoy this gum - on the house."

Joe was very competitive. He loved the thrill of the game and encouraged his children to enjoy the same. Joe was a fine tennis and baseball player. He enjoyed the game for what it was. he never rubbed it in.

I can rembmer of time Joe was in a tennis tournament down in New Orleans while he was in the Army. The top seeded player was quated as saying, "If I had to lose, I'm glad it was to Joe." He was a worthy opponent and a true gentleman.

Joe's life was divided into several parts. Some were constant like raising and caring for his kids. He cared and encouraged to the very end. He took care and nursed Claire though cancer. There wasn't anything that she wanted that he counldn't get for her. He said if he had know the outcome that her last breath would have been tinged with nicotine.

Then a new chapter in his life -- Betty entered the picture. In Joe's own well organized, point-driven way of determining another suitable spouse, Betty won -- hands down.

Betty told me that Gog gave Joe to her as a special gift, and I know that Joe thought of Betty as his special gift. And that's the way the past 5 1/2 years went, after Father Kevin here tied the Nuptial Knot. Joe and Betty treated each other as special gifts from God. And rightly so -- they desered each other. I feel in my heart that Joe wanted to teach us to treat each other as Special Gifts.

I am going to stop now. Good-bye my dear Big Brother. You'll be sorely missed by us all.

We love you.

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