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An ode to my old friend, Wilbur Sheely
April 1, 1982


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pix #1 - WILBUR SHEELY

A few weeks ago, your author had a telephone call from Gladys (Doll) Lyons. She had been talking to a friend, and during the conversation mention was made of the death of Wilbur Sheely, former Fostorian who grew up here.

Gladys was shocked to hear that Wilbur was dead. Knowing that he and I had been friends since boyhood, she telephoned me promptly to inquire if it was true. I had to confirm the bad news.

Wilbur's death was telephoned to Fostoria on Friday evening Sept. 5, 1981 and there was only time to get a few lines in The Review Times' Saturday edition, and it did not appear under the regular obituary headline. Consequently, there are probably other readers who did not see the death notice either.

About three weeks prior to his death, Wilbur and his wife Ruth, stopped in Fostoria overnight enroute to Youngstown to see relatives. "Bill" as he was known to friends, telephoned me from the motel to invite me to have breakfast with them. During that short reunion, he said he had retired and they were going to come to Fostoria to spend time with old friends and see how the town had changed. Their stopover was the last we spent time together.

After the Sheelys returned to Indianpolis, Bill wasn't feeling well. He reported to his doctor, was hospitalized, and his condition deteriorated rapidly. Had he lived, the doctor said he would have needed constant care in a nursing facility. He would not have wanted that, so in his great mercy, God summoned him. I am sure Bill was ready, because of things said during our last meeting.

He was born and raised in Fostoria. His father, S.G. Sheely was a partner in the Sheely and Basehore Coal Co. prior to disposing of his share and turning to farming on an 80-acre farm at the end of South Union Street.

After the death of both parents, Wilbur sold the farm to the city of Fostoria for development of Meadowlark Park.

Bill and I both lived in the same neighborhood on McDougal Street, and we both went to Whittier School. He graduated from Fostoria High School in 1924. After attending college for awhile, he gravitated to the business world. At one time he managed the Goodrich Store here. Most of his later years was with the Indiana Hardware Association as executive secretary.

He was buried in the Sheely family plot in Fountain Cemetery.

Because of our early boyhood together, and the many fond memories I cherish of event we shared, I asked Ethel Wickert, Old Fort (written up in a Potluck article, Oct. 8, 1981) to write a poem describing some of our boyhood activities. It is presented herewith:

ODE TO WILBUR SHEELY
There are lots of things I can remember,
So many good time to recall,
When I think of the hours spent with Wilbur.
We were playmates and buddies when small.
We rode our tricycles together
Back and forth in the old neighborhood;
Took naps on the rug in his parlor,
Where the old fashioned pump organ stood.
Behind Wilbur's house was a horse barn,
Where the horses and coal wagons stayed.
Though we knew that we weren't suppose to,
Sometimes we sneaked in there and played.
I remember the smell of the horses,
The grain in the granary - the hay.
The thought of it all whets my senses,
As if it were just yesterday.
In those days when most people didn't go much,
(Automobiles were then few and far,)
Mr. Sheely had one of the first ones,
A Buick - a new touring car.
Quite often too I was invited,
For a Sunday or holiday ride,
To Longley to visit relation.
I recall once a trip to Lakeside.
One day I went with them near Bradner,
To dip up some sassafras roots.
We went by ourselves to Toledo,
To purchase our first long pants suits.
We rode on the old interurban,
(We were 15 or 16 by then)
Our friendship had weathered the changes,
From childhood to growing young men.
Once before we took an excursion,
On the L.E. and W. track.
Just part way by train, then we boarded a boat.
(A Cedar Point outing - and back).
He had moved from in town to the country,
When we were about the age of ten.
So a part of my summer vacations,
Was spent on the farm with him then.
We'd hitch up his goat to a wagon,
(That occupied lots of our time).
Depending on who was the driver,
In and out of that wagon we'd climb.
And then as we grew a bit older,
On many a warm summer day,
I helped Wilbur work with his father.
We threshed and we helped him make hay.
How well I remember the year '23,
And our train trip to Delaware,
To watch the Fostoria basketball team,
Play ball in the finals there.
I planned I would stay in my home town,
Work full time, when I'd graduate.
Sometime later then he went to college,
Living most of his life out of state.
Consequently as so often happens,
Our later paths never crossed much,
But once in awhile I would see him,
And at Christmas time we kept in touch.
How delighted I was when he called me,
The weekend of last Labor Day,
And we shared a few hours together.
(He and Ruth were just passing our way).
I have had lots of friends in my life-time,
The people I've met through the years.
With some I have shared lots of laughter,
With others I've shared a few tears.
But the one where we grew up together,
That started when we were so small,
Is the friend that I'll always remember,
The oldest and closest of all.
With my head bowed I stood at his graveside,
To offer a few words of prayer.
How thankful I was I had known him,
How privileged his friendship to share.

By Ethel Wickert

Written for Paul Krupp from the sentiments expressed by Paul at the death of his good friend, Wilbur Sheely A copy of the poem sent to Ruth, his wife, brought the following response: I can't begin to tell you what your poem means to me, and the love you had for Wilbur was very plain to see. But how you got your thoughts across to the friend who wrote the ode, Is more than I can figure out - just how you could unload. The memories you have stored away - for lo these many years, Well, I will always cherish this, although it brought the tears. And now, before I start again - thanks more than I can say, I wish for you and your family a happy holiday. Needless to say, your author has many more memories of our boyhood together, not expressed in the poem. If and when the FHS class of 1924 gather for another reunion, Bill Sheely will be missed.

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