The world lost a great man a few weeks ago: my godfather and pseudo-uncle Bob “Butch” Kalchbrenner. He and his wife Gloria are those salt-of-the-earth people who always put others’ needs before their own. It’s ironic that my "Uncle" Bob has always had a bad heart because I don’t know many people with a larger and kinder heart than his. Butch was truly an inspiration on how to live and how to treat people during your short time here. On the Official Godfather Requirement Checklist, he checked all the boxes. I’m better for having known him.
What better legacy is there?
While he and Gloria never had their own kids, I realized while at his wake that my Uncle Butch left a lasting impact on many “kids” just like me who grew up thinking this guy was really special. I met tons of nieces and nephews but also friends and neighbors who looked up to Butch like a father. While many of us did not share biological ties, the emotional ties were just as strong.
An interesting fact about Butch was that he was born and raised Lutheran but converted to Catholicism at the age of 56. He had attended Catholic mass every Sunday with his wife for decades and just decided one day in 1996 that he wanted to make it official. I interviewed him for a book last year and he told me this:
“I just felt it was time. You have to have faith in something.”
My own Catholic faith, while not perfect, has been a consoling force during this sad time. I imagine him surrounded by loved ones up in heaven, including one of his best friends, Bob Walsh—my father, who died last November. I can just see the two of them hanging out among the clouds like it’s the Beverly Lounge of the sky, sipping single malt scotches and enjoying the view. They must be creating quite the stir up there.
I agree with my godfather. You have to have faith in something.
Nora Kerr is the owner of Memoir for Me, creating memory books to capture a life story.