Today, Max would have been 108 years old.

He did not live to see the age of 50; dying at 49 on Christmas Day 1954.  

This year he will have been dead for 59 years…10 years longer than he lived.

For much of my life, that was who Max was to me – my mom’s father who died at 49 on Christmas Day.  Practically his entire biography, as I knew it, wasn't the story of his life.  It was the story of his death.  And because of that - and because my mom was too young to remember anything - Max didn’t factor much in our lives (unintended pun!  Max factor…get it?!)  It wasn’t Max who kept the family in line.  It wasn’t Max who raised my mother.  It wasn’t Max who was my grandfather.  No one kept him or his memory alive.  He was just a man in some family pictures whom I didn’t know.  Kinda sad. 

But a couple of years ago, when I was an up and coming archivist – as opposed to the old, seasoned one that I am now – I had to do a rotation with our reference branch in Washington, DC (where they keep the good stuff like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution).  In order to understand how to do genealogy research, I had to do research on my own family as part of my project.  Figuring that I’d have more luck researching my mom’s side of the family rather than combing through the billion Kellys, Lees, and Hendersons in the world (hey, I only had a few weeks and half of that time was spent trying to work the microfilm readers!), I started researching the Schellhardts.  That’s when I found the ship manifests and census records and a few other things that made me realize that Max was more than a guy who died a long, long time ago. 

He is a man who deserves to be remembered. 

Meet Max –

He was German by birth.

He was an older brother.

He was married to his wife for 28 ½ years.

He smoked.  
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He had six children (and I don't want to cause problems, but supposedly Aunt Anne was a Daddy's girl!)
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He had a nice smile...and perhaps poor posture.
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l-r - Betty, Anna, Max, and Charles Schellhardt
He raised boxers.

He was a bar owner but he preferred carpentry and building things.

He couldn’t tell a splinter from a chicken pox.  

He wore glasses.  
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Max Schellhardt's eyeglasses
He was a man of deep faith.  
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Items with Max in the hospital before he passed away
He was liked.  
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He is our father, our grandfather, our great-grandfather.  

He is not part of our past...he is part of our beginnings.  

And on this day, we remember and honor him.  

Happy Birthday, Max. 

(And now you know what was in that box of chocolates.) 
 


Comments

Helen Knuttel
04/14/2013 2:40pm

OMG!! Were these things in the "candy" box? I never saw them. Although he didn't speak much of religion, he knew it inside and out and forward and backwards. That's what the priest told either Nanny or Grandma Wissman after he went to classes in order to marry Nanny. He only went for 1 week because the priest felt that no amount of time would change his faith.

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Denise
04/14/2013 3:32pm

Yes, these were some of the things in the candy box, in addition to some letters and cards that my mom wrote to Nanny.

The letter from the Peter fellow is quite lovely. I love the line "when you talked to him, you learned to like him." I feel like I have that in common with him because I think people perceive my shyness/quietness/guardedness as me being aloof. Once people get to know me though, they like me.

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11/10/2017 12:47am

If you were given the chance to meet Max, I believe your characters will match and you will be making a lot of great memories. Obviously, Max is way older than you. I love the fact that you made a research about your family's background and knew your roots. Max may have lived a quite short life, but I know he was happy to live his life that way. As we all know, it's not always about how long you have lived, it's about how you have made your life meaningful.

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06/23/2016 6:41am

Kinda shared all about his grandfather Max in say way but I am happy to know that she still has affection for him. Max is even now an old man and is existed in her family picture but left an inspiring story of his death.

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He died so early! It's so sad! I hope his short life was full of shiny days!

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09/14/2017 11:01pm

It's so cool that you're keeping all this memories! It's very important.

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