The Greater Menomonee Falls Foundation honors Llew Tietz with its lifetime achievement award

May 13, 2014

The dog when he was a kid growing up on a farm in the area was named "Whoopie" and the cat "Kazoopul" (no one knows why).

He shot trap and was good enough at it to teach older and more famous people than himself to do it right. He trained on B-29 bombers during World War II with the war mercifully ending before he was shipped overseas.

He became a lifelong member of West Granville Presbyterian Church, serving in many capacities and became the greatest insurance agent anyone ever knew. Next to the table in the family room where he often works (at age 89, he's still ever busy), there's a sign that says "The more you complain, the longer God makes you live."

His still beautiful wife, who endured what he said was "1,000 meetings" and whom he never thought he was quite good enough for, is named Alice and the three ever grateful (but in our minds never quite enough so) children are Robyn, Steven (myself) and Zach. His grandson is named Anthony.

He's lovingly raised rabbits and has fought bands of bees (along with my uncles) while fixing the steps at his father-in-law's place. He served decades on hospital (Community Memorial), bank (F & M and later Associated) and YMCA boards. He flipped pancakes and served spaghetti for the Lions Club and helped neighbors with their taxes.

He always deflects credit, has always believed in giving back to the community and 14 years ago, survived a heart attack big enough to have killed 10 elephants with the help of a then-national record 11 bypasses.

His doctor said he survived the bypasses because his veins were as strong and big as bratwurst.

He's allergic to chocolate and loves strawberry shortcake and candy raisins (he and I greedily hoard them).

He keeps friends for life, misses those who have passed from his life fiercely and never complains when he is sick.

He believes in small government and doesn't like taxes. He believes in community service and has been amazingly generous (but always smartly so) with his family and friends, making their lives easier, earning respect and love along the way.

He's my Dad, Llew Tietz, the best guy in the universe and he was honored by the Greater Menomonee Falls Foundation with its first lifetime achievement award at its Foundation Grant Reception May 8 at the Radisson.

GMFF Chairperson Darci Middaugh, in her opening remarks, said she was speaking with someone during the preceding reception hour who called him "one of the greatest assets this community has."

I would expand that viewpoint to include the world, but then again, I'm biased when it comes to him.

People lined up to shake his hand and people sent him cards.

In-laws and longtime neighbors surprised and pleased him by attending. Such was his night, that he even won not one, but two of the event's raffles (my brother, with whom he had gone turkey hunting in the morning, generously bought scads of tickets), and then of course, he turned one of the winning tickets back so the prize could be claimed by someone else.

Both he and my sister Robyn are deservingly part of the Menomonee Falls Wall of Recognition. She has followed in his mighty footsteps, carving her own great path of public service and decency. It was fitting she had the honor of introducing him.

"He wears a size 9-1/2 shoe but it'll take a Paul Bunyan to fill them," she said.

Truer words were never spoken.

When he got to the microphone, he smirked and smiled at her and said of the introduction "Robbie, you read it like I wrote it," getting a big laugh out of all in attendance.

His acceptance speech was short and to the point. He thanked the Foundation, which he has served on its board for many years "for the privilege of being a part of it."

His chest was bursting with pride at the $11,000 in grants the organization awarded to deserving area nonprofits and he smiled broadly when the large group of residents at the Step Inc./Hartfel House home for the cognitively disabled, which received a $1,000 grant, came to the podium to display the artwork they had recently completed.

He and my mother have also been longtime patrons of the hometown Patio Players theater company, which also received a $1,000 grant.

To him, the finest moment of the night, came at the close of his remarks. He held a card he had received in the mail congratulating him on this great award.

He did not read from the card, but said it was full of kind and complimentary things.

It was from Community Memorial Hospital President Dennis Pollard, who believes much like my father does in terms of giving back to the community.

And as Dad closed his remarks, he was happy to announce that among the kind words he had written, Pollard had also enclosed a $500 check written out to the Foundation so that it could continue its work.

That summed up my father and the people he has influenced in a nutshell.

Always thinking of others, always willing to lend a hand, and setting a great example for all of us.

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