Unyts is paying tribute to our heroes of organ, eye and tissue donation. It seemed fitting to call this new endeavour “Honoring our Heroes”. We know that for the families of these donors, they really are heroes, and we certainly feel the same way.
We are truly honored to share these very touching personal stories each month. If you would like to honor a hero, please read below. The month of January, we honor …
Claude Case Jr.
Claude Case Jr., known as “Butch” to most, and “Pops” to his children and their friends, was a hard working and honest man. His greatest joy was in helping others. As a younger man, he would stop by anyone he saw broke down on the side of the road and help to get their car going again, always having a trunk full of tools and least a few pair of vice grips, and ruining quite a few good clothes in the process. In the later years of his life, he had a goal to help at least one person a month. Even though he lived only on Social Security, money was set aside to help others, by buying a less fortunate family groceries or a hearing aid for a person who needed it.
Butch had many hobbies over the course of his life and always worked with his hands. His “copper trees” were made in all shapes and sizes and were handed out frequently to people he met. Everyone was amazed by the talent and effort taken to make such a beautiful little sculpture. Words and names were made of twisted wire in all colors and designs. He had developed his own way, twisting wire uniformly and in unique patterns, spending hours working on his designs and tearing his finger tips to shreds in the process, just to sculpt a name. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing something he made. He always said his legacy would be through his copper wire design. Everyone he met, he made names or trees for. I guess his greatest joy was bringing happiness or a smile to other people’s faces. This, he did on a regular basis. One day, he went through the drive thru at McDonald’s, and in the rear view mirror he thought he recognized the people behind him and paid for their meal. Another time, he found a stray cat beside the road one day. Claude nursed him back to health and he became his little buddy named Tabby. We can still see them falling asleep together lying in the chair. This was typical for Claude. For a Boy Scout project, we had to build something. So he took the plans from a 6 foot picnic table and extended them to ten feet. The picnic table is still being used and has been for the last 15 years. He decided to go big with it so whenever anyone came over there was always room for everyone to sit.
Butch was also an excellent mechanic. Every year one of us would run in the demolition derby. He was always right there, tearing the cars apart with us and helping us set them up. We looked forward to the summers at the fair, building the demolition derby cars, always carrying a trunk full of tools. Butch could fix just about anything. People would always call him and ask him to help them with their homework and computers. He said that he would have been a good Math teacher. His nieces and nephews were always asking for help with their math or any other subject even if it involved him reading the books and learning what they were doing. He developed creative ways to make a car work with odds and ends, learned from years growing up and working in a salvage yard. Another passion that Butch came to later in life and brought him much happiness, was cooking. He was constantly experimenting in the kitchen with new ingredients and new ways of mixing old ones. If someone stopped by he would always make sure that they didn’t leave hungry. He brought dishes to friends and family, delighting in the satisfaction received from compliments on the food he prepared. Claude also loved drinking coffee. Usually, that’s what he drank all day long. You could always smell the aroma of coffee in the house throughout the day.
He loved singing songs and teaching them to his nephew. Sometimes, he went to my uncles for coffee in the morning. He would always tell the kids, “It’s gonna be a beautiful day”. He was always looking for odds and ends at yard sales. People would call him when they needed something, because he had a lot of unusual “stuff” and saved a lot of it, hoping it would help other people. Most of the time you could ask him if he had something and he would dig through his “stuff” and most of the time, he’d find it.
He enjoyed spending time with his sons: Matt, Jon and Claude lll. One day he took his boys out of school just to have a day of fun. They went to Allegheny State Park, flew kites, tossed the football, played basketball, and hiked around the lake. Butch especially loved the time he spent with his grandson, Nathaniel. They did everything from laying on the floor coloring, to playing outside, raking leaves in the yard. Butch built him a huge sandbox, which he loved. Butch was very excited to find out about his soon-to-be granddaughter, Sophia. He passed away in November, 2011 and he never got the chance to meet her. We tell her about him all the time and we know that he is watching over her.
So to sum it up, we all feel that in many ways he was a hero on earth and now he is in Heaven. He is sadly missed as he was such a big part of so many lives.
Submitted by the family and friends of Claude Case Jr.