WOW! What a well-composed and informative story written by Senior Staff Reporter Goldie Rapp about a wonderful man whom I respect and have so much admiration for who is now struggling with a horrific mental disease, Ron Happach.
I first met Mr. Happach when I enrolled in refrigeration courses in the fall of 1980 and spring of 1981 which he taught at Sauk Valley Community College. I wanted to learn about refrigeration so I could apply the knowledge to my business, which dealt with beverages.
Being of about the same age, we both struck up a fast friendship. I studied the courses and did well on the grading.
At that time, Mr. Happach was the Mechanical Arts director at Sauk College and also a consultant to the steel mill in Sterling.
The steel mill and several other industrials in the Sauk Valley area wanted their maintenance employees to learn more about heating, air conditioning and refrigeration, so Mr. Happach was asked to develop courses for them and other individuals who wanted more education on those skills.
After I completed the courses, I was asked by Mr. Happach to instruct the refrigeration courses and he would do the heating and air conditioning. I taught there for several years until the steel mill closed.
Mr. Happach would solicit appliance dealers in Sterling and Dixon for used appliances, which had been traded in and of no value to them, and would bring them out to the college for the students to repair parts on — things such as compressors, evaporators, thermostatic expansion valves and other refrigerant metering devices and timers.
Upon repair, Mr. Happach, with the generosity of his heart, would then give the appliances to needy families in the area.
Always a community minded person, Mr. Happach, with his engineering background, was a vital member of the Bureau County Board for years, actually serving as chairman of the board for several years. When Ron spoke, they listened!
Living in Sheffield, Ron had quite a commute daily to Sauk Valley Community College, however, he never missed a morning Mass at church prior to beginning his work day. Being a devout Catholic Christian, when I told him I, a Lutheran, had experienced a Catholic Cursillo retreat, he noticed I was wearing a small cross extending from a multi-colored yarn string.
A couple of weeks later before class, he gave me a chain for my cross, which to this day I have and cherish. He noticed the “little things.”
It is my prayer that Ron will live as comfortably as he can while enduring this Lewy body dementia as he has the loving care given him by his wife and family.
Also, may Mrs. Rapp continue to use her many talents as a journalist to provide our area with information and education that communities need to know.
God bless the Ron Happach family and Goldie Rapp!