COMMENTARY: Passing of a Gentle Giant, Gary Oldiges

Bob Blindauer
Staff Writer

If you’ve been around Minster for awhile, you probably have a Gary Oldiges story. This lifelong Minsterite has in some form or fashion reached out and touched just about everyone existentially around these parts. Family man. Teacher. Coach. Educator. Team member and organizational guy. Historian, respectful of the past, mindful of the present.

From his lifetime of accomplishments and the accolades he received during it, he can be charcterized as a guy who knew how to bring people together in ways large and small. Witness Oktoberfest and his part in bringing it to where it is today. Like so many other great local men and women before him and others still present today, he remained mostly a behind-the-scenes presence. Which is where I offer my Gary Oldiges story.

When I came to The Community Post in 2014 and Gary found out I was originally from Chicago and a Cubs fan, he teased a little bit about it. One day in 2015, though, he stopped into the office and presented me with what I can only describe as a clapper/totem of sorts, about a foot tall and dedicated to the Cubs.

This was before they’d won anything or even made it to the playoffs. He said he’d made a number of them for the Reds but just this one for the Cubs, but nobody seemed to want it. We laughed about it but I admired his thoughtfulness and thanked him. I told him this object would wind up in my newborn grandson’s nursery, which it did.

Again, in the summer of 2016, Gary remembered my penchant for all things Cub and he mailed to me a printed photo of the iconic Wrigley Field marquee with the words  “THIS IS THE YEAR!!! NO REALLY, I’M SERIOUS THIS TIME” on it. Off to the side Gary had scribbled “Miracles Do Happen!” Indeed they did. I still have it on my desktop.

Once again Gary Oldiges had showed his warm, friendly and thoughtful acceptance of the kid from Chicago. It made me feel kind of like a younger brother.

Although our friendship was short in the larger scheme of things – I’m sure those who have known Gary longer can offer many more detailed and lengthy anecdotes. As for myself, I would characterize Gary as a gentle giant.

Rest well, gentle giant.

For more details of  Gary’s life and accomplishments, please see his obit on the Community Post's website:

. To read the weekly column “Out of Our Past” he has co-produced with Larry Prenger for The Community Post for several years, see page 5 of this week's Community Post.