- 92 years old
- Date of birth: Feb 8, 1922
- Date of passing: Feb 2, 2015
Celebration of Ned's Life: 12:00 noon on Saturday February 28, First United Methodist Church at 516 Church Street in Evanston. Followed by a party at Prairie Moon Restaurant, 1502 Sherman.
About Ned: His Life Story His Life in Photos His Obituary
Here are some ways that Ned's children suggest you might honor his memory:
Eat a grapefruit. A white grapefruit, which you can find at a market out in Skokie; why would anybody eat pink grapefruit?
Go to the opera. Preferably Wagner's Ring Cycle -- all 15 hours of it.
Watch the Chicago Bears. Don't talk during the game, and mute the commercials.
Enjoy daily morning "quiet time" with a cup of Assam Golden Tip and the sports section.
Read Doonesbury. And if you haven't been reading it since the first strip in 1971, why the hell not?
Eat Dixie Kitchen's whole baby catfish with grits and sweet potatoes.
Walk along the lakefront.
Go fishing. Go camping. Take your friends and family fishing and camping.
Go see the world, by bus, and don't forget to eat the street vendor food.
Listen to Benny Goodman and The Weavers.
When puttering about the house doing chores and projects, sing a tuneless song whose only lyrics are "la di da." Whistling is an acceptable alternative.
Let your kids take whomever they want to the prom.
Embrace your in-laws.
Play Oh Hell. Always bid zero, excepting the ace of trump. Express astonishment and indignation when you take a trick with a three.
Grill Paulina Market Bratwurst and eat warm pecan pie with vanilla ice cream.
Compost. Grow rhubarb and strawberries. Make jam.
Put your salad on its own plate, and always top it with raw onions.
Shovel your neighbor's snow. Throw a block party. Build a treehouse and invite the neighborhood.
Never build a tall fence in your backyard that would keep you from chatting with your neighbors.
Serve on the city council. Join a board. Or a task force. Or a commission. Or a committee.
Drink domestic microbrew beer and eat popcorn with old friends. Don't ever even SAY the word "Budweiser."
Build a toboggan run, and fly down the hill with abandon.
Never tell a lie. Not even a little one. Not ever.
Teach your kids your old college drinking songs, the more irreverent, the better.
Never play favorites with your kids.
Cherish your spouse. Love your dad.
"Happy 95th birthday, Dad. I just posted a short video titled "It don't mean a thing, if...""
"It is two years, and it is hard to believe. I will miss him forever. He was a man of honor, honesty beyond belief and loved all the people around him.
I will forever treasure his support and encouragement of any crazy idea I ever had. To this day that serves as a cornerstone of my ability to go and try nearly anything.
Thank you Dad."
"Hard to believe it has been two years. I would love to share a beer again and hear Dad say how swell it tasted."
"One year already. Seems like only yesterday. We miss him terribly."
"Sharing an IPA with you old boy. Sure do miss the stories."
"Hard to believe it has been a full year. I miss him, but his personality lives on in me and in Eric, and in my siblings and their progeny."
"Nancy and I weren't able to make it to the memorial in person but I wanted to convey our sadness at Ned's passing. Although I had met him only a few times over the years, his presence for me has become indellible; he's one of the most gracious, generous, friendly and genuinely interesting people I've encountered. When I was with him I felt as if he truly cared about what I thought, and when he spoke he was invariably on the mark. Every encounter was enjoyable and joyful. PS: Ned, thanks for your persistence in reaching out to me and never giving up."
"I didn't know Ned well, as I only moved across the hall from him last April. But he was warm and inviting and I am sorry I didn't know him longer.
My sincere condolences to all of his family and friends."
"I was so sad to hear of Ned's passing, yet oddly comforted. I hope that somewhere in the universe Ned and Albe are sitting around a campfire, drinking beer and talking politics with my folks Maxine and Chuck with whom they shared an incredible friendship. I was so fond of Ned and so appreciate his loyalty to my parents. I
ll try to follow Ned's advice that you shared, although I've already failed miserably on some accounts..."
"What a joy it was to get to know Ned and Albe when we moved to The Mather in Jan., 2010. We have so many memories - watching the Bears games, hearing stories about the backyard picnic for Barack Obama, seeing so many framed family photos in their apartment, celebrating Ned's 90th at Prairie Moon, and watching "Engineer Ned" carefully measuring every notice on The Mather bulletin board.
We are sure that Ned and Albe are holding hands in heaven.
Pat and Peter Horne"
"from Carl Baum 2/16/15
I’ve been trying to put into words what Ned has meant to me and all the rest of us Baum’s. Not father or uncle or grandfather. What I do know is that every single one of us Baum’s loved Ned and he was like a fairy God mother/father to our whole family. Growing up Ned was just—well—Ned. He was a nice guy who never quite finished the home improvement projects at his own house. But what a life Ned and Albe had together and what a wonderful bunch of kids they’ve raised! And what a capacity to love people and enjoy life and make important community contributions. Ned was so important to our family after Stan died. I think each of us Baum’s felt as though we had a special connection with Ned. And so did his thousands other friends. I’ve known for a long time about Ned’s backpacking, world travels, community service, and tobogganing travails. I know that he started the backpacking club at the high school. I remember him visiting me at college. I remember the whole Lauterbach family coming to our wedding and then staying an extra couple of days (longer than anyone else) before taking off on a family backpacking trip. It’s only recently I’ve learned about his love of opera. I think he told me he hitch hiked to his first opera from Antioch and then hitch hiked back late at night. I never really knew that he loved jazz until he showed Lynne and I his autograph from Louis Armstrong. The places in the world to which Ned and Albe traveled on their own into their 70’s (and possibly 80’s) using only the Lonely Planet books and their basic trust in people were simply incredible! Ned lived almost a century. What a wonderful life well lived."
"About eight years ago, Ned, Albe, and Amy paid my father and mother, Jake and Bee Bennison, a visit in Madison, Wi., as Amy was in the process of biking cross-country. It was my good pleasure to be visiting my parents so I got to meet Ned, Albe, and Amy for the first time. Ned and my Dad had known each other since kindergarten so I was entertained by countless stories and jokes swapped by the two of them that afternoon. It was gratifying for me to witness how much the two of them enjoyed each other's company...the intervening years had not diminished this special pleasure."
"Ned was a very special man. I got to know him almost 20 years ago when I moved to the block of Forest Avenue that now bears his name. He loved his home city and served it in countless ways. He had strong opinions on many issues of the day, but he always respected a rational argument for the other side.
Ned was a man of principles. One of Evanston's issues in the 1960s was integration. There were two YMCAs and the one near downtown did not admit African Americans, even after the YMCA in the African American community closed. Ned was so upset with that situation that he went back to the YMCA in Chicago that was integrated.
Ned was a great neighbor in his later days at the Mather as well. My mother in law lived down the hall from Ned and Albe and he was virtualy the mayor of the builidng. I'll certainly miss Ned, and I am a better person for knowing him and enjoying his company, wisdom and great stories. He is now dancing and singing with Albe and I'm glad for that. I'll toast my next domestic microbrew to you (and Albe too)."
"Wow! What a full, amazing, productive, and loving life. I never met or knew Ned, but feel that through this memorial I would have liked him very much. We could use a few billion more humans made of similar stuff. And by the way, I feel this is the best memorial website I have ever visited. I particularly enjoyed viewing the video of Ned submitted by Chris. This man touched many, many lives...and will be missed."
"Best storyteller ever! Absolutely loved Ned (and Albe, can't say one without the other) and their fabulous children. It was an honor to know Ned, and wish it could have been for longer. See you on the 28th."
"Ned possessed a unique generosity of spirit as well as a deep caring that led his friends to feel like family. I will always be grateful to Ned and Albe for opening their lives and their home to me---and the entire Katz family. Their cherished children---Amy, Kacki, Chris, Stuart and Steve---were wonderful childhood playmates. Together we tobogganed at George Williams College Camp, enjoyed s'mores by the campfire, and netted smelts on the shores of Lake Michigan.
To the children: Let's keep the memories of Ned, Albe, Harold, and Ethel Mae alive through lifelong friendships. I look forward to memorializing our beloved Ned and conversing with you at Prairie Moon Restaurant."
"What can I say to honor such a wonderful man who had such a great smile and laugh and stories. He is with Albe now and they are dancing and singing together. I remember his sense of humor and the serious side too. My heart aches with the thought that I will not see him anymore. I loved having a cold beer with him and talking sports. His love of family all of us was such a blessed side of him. God Speed Ned. Know that you are in my heart forever. There is a big hole left in the hearts of everyone that knew you. I was lucky...I was related."
"My heart and soul go out to the family and for Ned he is with Albe now and dreaming their dreams away. I will always hold dear how my Dad spoke of Ned and bringing his family along to the reunions was a heartfelt thing. Just like your father Ned my Dad loved family. And that is what I am going to remember my Dad and your Dad hugging and getting out to the golf course."
"Ned gave me many great bits of advice, but two stand out. The first was to join the Board of Y.O.U., which I did 25 years ago. He said it was the best use to which I could put my time for the betterment of the community, and he was right. The second came when Ned (at age 80) served as the "yard sign man" for my first school board campaign. Ned the engineer not only was highly skilled at getting weak metal posts into hard winter ground, but he also used a level to make sure the sign was perfectly straight. He explained: "If your signs are crooked, they'll think you're crooked too." I will miss him."
"I was saddened to learn of Uncle Ned's passing. However, there is nothing to mourn, but rather a life well lived to celebrate. I did not get to see a lot of Ned since I came out East, but he was certainly my favorite uncle and in my mind was the epitome of what everyone's "favorite uncle" should be.
He was always positive, quick with jokes, and a wonderful storyteller. Playing cards was always great fun with him. As pointed out, he was consistently good for a zero bid.
He and Albe raised a wonderful, caring family of which they were obviously very proud.
Ned and Albe will be missed, but they leave a lot of wonderful memories with a huge number of people."
"I'm really going to miss you Uncle Ned. I'm going to miss sharing an India Pale Ale with you on a warm summer night and learning about refridgeration. I'm going to miss hearing about a future President having lunch in your backyard. I'm going to miss seeing you at family reunions and learning about family. You were kind, generous, smart, hard working, funny, and most of all: family. I'm really going to miss you."
"A few things about him that I love...
He had an absolute commitment to fairness and honesty and never ever ever told a lie.
He took his life very seriously, but had a tremendous joie de vivre, and always sought the positive angle. He was a boatload of fun to be with.
He took great pleasure in very simple things, such as white grapefruit, great beer, and a treehouse.
He and my mom took me camping starting when I was six months old. To them I owe my love of the outdoors.
He was a dedicated FDR Democrat, his world view encapsulated in the FDR quote which hung on his wall: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
He had a rock-solid moral compass and was the most unambiguously moral person I have ever known. He had no self doubt, never wavered in his opinions, he knew what was right and what was wrong, and he lived his values every day of his life.
He loved his kids, my mom (67 years married), his neighborhood, and his town. I believe he thought he was the luckiest guy in the world."
"My grandpa Ned left the world early in the morning on February 2, 2015- just shy of his 93rd birthday. Although I grieve a tremendous loss, I feel an overwhelming peace and comfort about his passing. I am humbled and blessed to have had my grandfather in my life for over 26 years, and I know he is finally resting happily with my grandma Albe -his girl- after one “helluva” life here on Earth. Grandpa Ned was one of my first true loves and throughout my childhood and young adulthood, an incredibly steadfast and adoring role model and friend. My grandpa was and will always be one of my best friends.
Ned is the most reliable grandparent I have ever known, and from an early age I was able to appreciate that and take comfort in the unique way he and grandma Albe functioned as additional parents in my life. He was not overbearing, he was there when I needed him, or if I just wanted to play, and he didn’t bat an eyelash about it. He never asked anything in return for all the wonderful things he did for Jack and me as kids and into our adulthood. He was happy to be in the moment with us. Looking back on it now, I wonder how many times throughout my childhood I called that oh so familiar 869 telephone number, asking if I could come over to play? Never once in my 18 years growing up in Evanston was I met with any answer other than “Come on over Clairesy!” I can’t help but smile when I think of how he couldn’t wait to tell someone I was his favorite granddaughter. Not only did he tell me I was beautiful (up until his last month of life), but he always treated me like a lady, for which I am more grateful than he could ever know.
As I grew into a young adult, I became acutely aware of my grandfather’s character and why it was that he was so loved by the Evanston community and beyond. Ned did not need to attend a church or be a religious man to embody the motto “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. He practiced that every single day of his life with close friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. Each and every person my grandpa encountered was worth his time and important to him, and as I observed his interactions throughout the years, I learned the quality of listening, not just hearing. When I think on his benevolence and grace in how he treated others I’m reminded of the quote, “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him”.
Grandpa Ned taught me to experience small joys slowly. Don’t rush a beer with a friend, don’t leave a party early, don’t pass up an opportunity to try something new, and above all else, find the value in learning about other people and what they have to say. Ned never, ever discounted what someone had to say, and he had such unfaltering faith in the human spirit. Grandpa Ned will be with me when I enjoy the company of friends over dinner, when I put up campaign yard signs on a nippy October day, or when I travel to a new place that is far off the beaten path. Whenever I’m on a mountain top or beside the ocean, and I feel the breeze, I will take an extra minute to enjoy and be grateful for that experience, and remember that’s all he ever asked of anyone."
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