I lost a good friend last week and, in a way, so did you. His name was Arthur Schuetz. He died six days from his 99th birthday.
He was my neighbor for years in the College Hill area. Art lived a quiet life, to my knowledge never making any newscast, never getting his photo and name splashed across the newspapers, never running for public office, never having streets or schools or businesses named for himself.
He was one of thousands who are the bedrock of the City of Wichita: aircraft industry workers whose engineering skills and talents were recognized by the local companies. Art had an eye for problem solving and it was that ability that prompted the Boeing Corporation to make him a senior tool design engineer. He retired from Boeing in 1970 and devoted his time to the invention of household gadgets that made his wife’s life easier. In his workshop Arthur Schuetz continued drawing out plans and instigating wisely engineered solutions to every imaginable little household irritation. Not only did his family benefit, but we neighbors did as well. He was unselfish with his time and his talents.
There is probably an Art on your street, maybe even in your family. Many of these former aircraft workers are retired, many laid off, many passed away and some are moving to find work elsewhere. Our town was designed around them and their needs. Aircraft workers are a vital part of the foundation on which Wichita was built.
So I’ll just take a moment to say thank you to them. I wish it hadn’t taken the death of my good friend to cause me to finally reflect on their importance. But that’s Arthur, for you. Solving another problem: the problem of my taking people for granted.