Many of my readers know that my friend and fishing partner, Ralph Biele, can spin a yarn. He has that rare ability to capture the emotion and beauty in the telling of a story about some adventure or happening in a lifetime of observing human behavior. So it was when Ralph related the following story to me as we searched for crappie on Truman Lake.
Ralph and a good friend, Bill Plassmeyer, had served together as ushers at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City, Mo. It should come as no surprise that Ralph and Bill had developed a friendship strengthened by the tenants of the Catholic Church as they shared many experiences over the years. Ralph smiled as he described Bill’s flashy and colorful fashion sense as well as his warmth and regard for people in general. One of their common interests, a passion for both of them, was Special Olympics, which really needs little in terms of introduction. Bill’s son was a Special Olympics coach and his grandson was a Special Olympics athlete. Each of these individuals harbored a deep respect and love for this program, a premier organization dedicated to the provision of athletic opportunities to athletes who likely would not be able to participate in competitive sports should it not exist.
On March 23d of this year, Mr. Bill Plassmeyer passed away at the age of 87. Mr. Plassmeyer had enjoyed a long and successful career in traveling sales, having worked for Uniroyal and the Hershey Corporation before retiring. His warmth and affability were put to good use in this competitive business environment. So that you might get the full measure of this man, he was also an avid golfer and coin collector. Those that knew him came to appreciate his keen wit and refined sense of humor. The picture below is of Mr. Bill Plassmeyer.
Ralph made his way to the funeral home for the visitation and noted what appeared to be Rosary Beads clasped in Bill’s hands as he approached him for his final respects. It was then that Ralph noticed that instead of Rosary beads, Bill was clasping a special Olympics medal that his grandson had won in one of the events he had participated in. Subsequently, Bill and his grandson competed in a unified golf match, in which a Special Olympics athlete was paired with a non-special Olympics partner for a match they then won. Ralph’s thoughts were immediately taken back to a conversation with Bill after the golf match during which Bill expressed his pride in partnering with his grandson in this golf competition. Bill was effusive in his praise for special Olympics and for the terrific efforts of his grandson during the golf match. So much so, that he told Ralph that when he died he was going to take one of his grandson’s medals with him to present to God with the intention of telling the Master how important this program was and what it meant to everyone that it touched. Ralph said he smiled broadly as he recalled the conversation and noted that Bill Plassmeyer was a man of his word. The medal was on it’s way to the home of the Master.
When our time comes, and it will soon enough for each of us, what gift will we take to the Master? Thank you Bill, for reminding us that a gift of appreciation just might be the best gift of all……..