I was told there was a tradition during World War II that when soldiers went off to war, some gave handkerchiefs to the special people in their lives with a poignant embroidered message...Remember Me.
We’re not sure if our dear friend, Reuben Schaetzel, ever gave one to someone he loved, but we do know he will be remembered.
I met Reuben through our friend, John Maino at a Heritage Hill Veterans event in Green Bay that John was hosting. Reuben was sharing his colorful stories with the audience, lifted right from the pages of John’s book, “Frontlines”. They revolved around Reuben driving a M4 Sherman Tank under General George S. Patton’s Third Army and ending his service during World War II in a small town called Pilsen in the Czech Republic that his unit helped liberate.
Click! That was the connection, if we really needed something to bring us together. For those of you who knew Reuben he was magnetic, for those of you who didn’t, it’s a shame because he brought so much joy to everyone he met. That included the 17,000 people that bought a car from him over his 60+ year career as an automobile salesman. He felt the pinnacle of his storied career was selling General Patton’s grandson, Pat Waters, a new Chevy Equinox in 2017. At 94 years old he was selling cars every day at Buss Chevrolet in Shawano.
Thanks to Mark Leland and WLUK Fox 11, the documentary “Return to Pilsen, Sharing An American Story” aired back in 2013. Because of that documentary, Kathy and Lee Anderson came into our lives and ultimately into Reuben’s.
Because of the Anderson's kindness, Reuben went to Pilsen twice during their annual Liberation Festival and was honored and adored by hundreds of citizens of the Czech Republic.
It was on those Pilsen trips that Reuben became a very close friend of General Patton‘s grandson, Pat Waters. It was a friendship both men cherished.
Last week, God decided he needed a new best friend by his side and Reuben's last full day on earth was Christmas Day. That seems fitting as well, an Angel being called home that night, the day after the most hallowed day on earth.
After Reuben’s first Pilsen trip he mentioned to his daughters, Gail and Lee Ann that if he died now he would die a happy man but for us it’s so sad to see him leave us.
Rest in peace Reuben, you will be missed, but you will be celebrated and remembered forever by those you left behind.