Julianne Wiley (Juli Loesch), who is well known to CetT readers and many others, sent me this eulogy a few days ago and I asked for her permission to post it.
Edward Rudolph Loesch
1914 – February 24, 2007
My father, Edward Loesch, descended from people who fled from Otto von
Bismarck’s regime in Germany in 1870. They were good German stock: wine-barrel
makers and draft dodgers. There’s a story about Edward’s grandfather Adam
Loesch, the barrel-maker. In the late 1800’s, a fellow offered to put him in
charge of his whole barrel-making operation for the newfangled petroleum
industry — a fellow named Andrew Carnegie. But did Adam Loesch take the job?
No-o-o. He was no fool. He said, “There’s no future in oil. The future’s in
So that was the Loesch side: skilled, stubborn, and not notably talented at
Edward was born in 1914, the second of 5 brothers and sisters. He was just 16
when the Depression forced him to leave school to work and support his younger
brothers and sisters. He was born blind in one eye, and was never in the
military; he spent his early manhood working for the Civilian Conservation
Around the same time that he left school, he also left the Christian faith.
He read the works of Clarence Darrow, Julian Huxley and the Little Blue Books of
E. Haldeman-Julius which covered all kinds of atheistic and freethinking topics
from history and philosophy to the “crimes of the Roman Catholic Church.” He
never did become one of those argumentative atheists, but he was very much
captivated by his agnosticism and by his doubts.
He was a hard-working man all his life. When he was a kid in Erie, PA, he and
his brother Clarence used to go down to the docks when the fishing boats came in
and buy fish for, oh, maybe a dollar a bucket. Then they’d scale, gut and fillet
them and sell them to the stores and restaurants for maybe two dollars a bucket.
Like his father, he worked as a core maker at an iron foundry.
After he married my mother, Wynne, he worked as a a lumberyard man, and, for
many years, a laundry worker. Edward walked home from work every night, tired
and sweaty and sometimes with burns on his arms which he got from inadvertently
touching hot presses. When my brother and I were little kids, we’d run to him
and, though hot and tired, he”d pick us up, or lay down on the couch and let us
crawl all over him.
Once he worked as a plastic injection molder, and the chemicals made it hard
for him to breathe. I remember him lying on his back on the kitchen floor,
greenish, wheezing, and my mother in tears telling him he had to quit that job.
“And then what? Go on Welfare?” he challenged her in an unexpectedly bitter
tone. But Wynne came right back at him: “I’d rather be on Welfare than be a
widow.” She won that argument. He quit— and got a different job.
So these were his interests: his wife and children, his garden and his books.
He’d sit at the kitchen table with two books open before him: botany, say, and a
dictionary. He was an infallible speller. And he loved words.
He liked music. He listened to the classical station on the radio. When my
brother Jim sang with the Cathedral boys’ choir, Father — still an agnostic
—would attend Mass on Christmas and Easter: didn’t believe that stuff, of
course, but he appreciated the Gregorian chant.
It was an awful thing when he lost his sight: that is, when he had a series
of operations on the one eye he COULD see out of, and the operations failed. He
was 70 when that happened — when he was plunged into total and permanent
darkness. It was probably the major crisis of his life. He was lost, just lost.
He couldn’t garden. He couldn’t read. He felt he’d be useless — a burden —
and that was the worst thing of all.
At his lowest point, he said to my mother, “Maybe I’ll just walk out into
traffic and get killed —- you know, do myself in — and you and the kids can
collect the insurance.” “YOU WILL NOT,” said my mother. She won that argument,
And of course he was no burden. His disabled brother, our Uncle Gerald, lived
with Ed and Wynne, and I remember my sightless old Father going up the stairs
with some soup he’d cooked for Gerald’s supper — or, even more impressive,
coming DOWN the stairs walking BACKWARDS, in front of Gerald, so that if Gerald,
who had a wooden leg, would trip and fall, Father, the blind, could supposedly
catch him. “And you’ll BOTH break your necks,” said Mother. She had a lot to put
up with, with those two.
In the end, it was these three old people living together like a tottery
3-legged stool: blind Father, Mother disabled from a stroke, and wooden-leg
Uncle Gerald, whom we always regarded as being as helpful as a turnstile at a
square dance. My father would cook, and clean — after his fashion— and when
it snowed — this is in Erie, PA, where you can get 10-12 feet of snow in a
typical winter — he’d get out there and shovel the sidewalk.
In all his difficulties, and whatever his conflicts, I never heard him say a
mean word, or a stupid one.
He, and my mother, AND Gerald moved into our home here in Tennessee in 1994.
Within one month, my mother was dead from lung cancer; and my Father felt so
lost; and one year after that, Uncle Gerald, also an agnostic, had one of those
classic deathbed conversions, got right with Jesus and the Catholic Church, and
died. That left Edward.
Because of his blindness, he never saw his son-in-law, by husband Don, and he
never saw his grandsons Ben and Vanya, However, he was very much a part of the
homeschooling program. He’d be sitting in his rocking chair, and the boys would
take turns reciting their spelling words and their multiplication tables. Even
when Edwards mind started failing, his spelling and math were both infallible.
He came back to the Church about 5 or 6 years ago. He easily made a
transition into being a weekly Communicant and the one person I could always say
night prayers with. Even when he had only 5 or 6 functional neurons left in his
brain box, he was cheerful, and grateful.
He had the courage to be dependent. He had the courage to openm his heart
and let us love him. He called every one of the CNA’s “doll” and kissed their
hands. And could say the Our Father to the very end.
He was ready to go. In the last 3 weeks, he was unable to leave his bed and
increasingly unable to eat or drink: he did like his Fudge Ripple ice cream. He
received his last Communion and his Last Anointing from Fr. Akata. I read him
the Seven Penitential Pslams and promised him some Fudge Ripple. His last word
may have been Amen. Or maybe Ice Cream.
He once was lost, but now he’s found. Was blind, but now he sees.
—Julianne (Loesch) Wiley
[editor’s note: the Wileys are in tough financial shape and Julianne is having a hard time finding work after having spent years as home-schooling mother and care-giving daughter. If you can help her find work that can be done at home on a computer, she would be happy to hear from you. You can email her here.