Thursday, March 26, 2015

A By-Product of the Night's Magic

Show a Little Faith,
There's Magic in the Night...
- Bruce Springsteen

In the event that you do not accept as true each and every musical proclamation that the Poet Laureate of Freehold puts forth (and after - in my estimation at least - the less than satisfactory product that was the High Hopes CD your faith might well in fact be a bit shaken), then your faith in the mystical powers of the night's magic might not be now what it once was.  

For you, Good Sirs and Madams, I offer a sip of all-healing elixir, and I offer it to you in nothing more complicated or complex than three simple words.  Three words that identify, by name, a man: Delmer Clarence Kallberg.   

A man who was born in Minnesota at a time when most of - if not all of - World War I had yet to be fought.  A man who served his country as a member of the United States Navy in World War II and survived, as a member of the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, an attack by two Japanese kamikaze pilots, which killed one hundred and forty-four members of that vessel's crew and injured two hundred more - including Kallberg.  A man who attained a law degree and then made the principal focus of his career in the Los Angeles, California area working for the Veterans Administration and taking care of the legal needs of his fellow veterans.  A man who married, in 1960, a woman who had a young son, Jeffrey, who Kallberg adopted.  A man who, at age ninety-eight, died in Los Angeles, California in 2013. 

His son, Jeffrey, described his father as "[not] a man who made friends easily."  Jeffrey knew of which he spoke - having been exiled by his father from the older Kallberg's day-to-day for a period of close to twenty years and having only gained re-entry into that day-to-day a few years ago when his father recuperated at home following a fall that had landed him in the hospital.  Father and son made the most of their second chance and in what proved to be the final few years of Delmer Clarence Kallberg's very long life the two found peace with one another that had heretofore eluded them. 

Delmer Clarence Kallberg had a reputation among those who knew him for being frugal.  Actually, his reputation was one of extreme frugality.  He lived simply and very modestly.  So much so that when he died and the responsibility fell to Jeffrey to settle up his father's affairs he was surprised to discover that his dad had amassed a fortune of several million dollars, courtesy of a number of very smart, very successful investments. 

He soon discovered that his father, the attorney, had prepared his own typewritten will, apparently banging it out himself on his own battered Smith-Corona (as off in the distance, somewhere, Warren Zevon smiled).  His will provided for his only child.  His will provided for the West Los Angeles VA.  And his will also contained a rather interesting, albeit somewhat non-specific bequest.  In the will's final paragraph, Delmer Clarence Kallberg directed that: 

"If there are any funds remaining they shall be distributed to
 the various charitable organizations on the so called skid row."

As it turns out, there were in fact "funds remaining" in the Estate after all debts had been settled and specific gifts given.  There was more than $3.3 Million in "funds remaining".  Consistent with his client's direction, Kallberg's attorney, Ted Wolfberg, researched that there are approximately thirty  organizations doing charitable work on "skid row" in Los Angeles.  Each of those organizations has received and/or shall receive a gift of roughly $100,000 from the Estate of Delmer Clarence Kallberg.  One man's life has indeed profoundly and beautifully impacted the lives of others.  And the fact that neither he knew them nor they knew him matters not.  Not one bit. 

Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote the piece that introduced me to Delmer Clarence Kallberg, which piece I vigorously recommend to everyone, described Kallberg in it, "as a reclusive, cantankerous soul with a generous heart."  

A reclusive, cantankerous soul with a generous heart.  Eight words.  In the case of Delmer Clarence Kallberg, eight is enough.  


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