I'm a senior citizen now and an elder as far as the family goes. I wanted to tell you that I've been into genealogy for about five years, and have found out a tremendous amount about our ancestors. Dad, your father was estranged from his family -- did you know that your Uncle Joseph Benard was an adventurous sort, who managed a hotel in Texas, spent time in Mexico working for an oil company, and wound up in California? Or that your grandfather Joseph Ortmann came from a farming family in Erkeln, Germany?
William J. Ortman's senior picture
Mom, guess what -- I have your Berneburg line traced back to Cuntz D'Alte Berneburg, who lived in 1470! Did you know that your grandfather Maximilian came from a family in Silesia, where his father was a Master Weaver and also was a trumpeter? (That one is kind of mysterious. A trumpeter?)
Waltraud Berneburg's senior picture
Elise Ortman, a couple of years after graduation
But here's what I really want to say. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for having been such a difficult person in my teenage and young adult years. I had such high expectations -- I was a bear about hypocrisy and imperfection. Even though I knew I was far from perfect myself, I wanted you to be perfect and was pretty hard on you when you weren't. It wasn't until I was a parent myself that I understood that you were doing the best you could with all that you brought to parenthood. And now that I'm a genealogist, I see that everyone has problems, foibles, secrets -- that everyone just does the best they can, as you did, as I am now.
I would give anything for an hour. Half an hour, and I would have all my questions lined up and ask them as fast as I could. Although I'm an an agnostic, I still hope that I will see you some day and will have the chance to have everything answered. I miss you. I love you.