The following was a eulogy delivered by Hal's son Allen at his funeral on January 9, 2007.
Dad was born Harold August Nitz on March 5th 1909 in a farmhouse on 43rd and Morgan in Milwaukee. His mother was Maria (known as Anna) and his father was August. At that time, and for some years to come, the home didn't have running water, electricity, telephone, or central heating. Light was supplied by kerosene lamps and later by gas lamps, which were much brighter. The toilet was an outhouse. I'm not sure how the home was heated. Perhaps this modest beginning was the reason Dad never got flustered when today's modern conveniences broke down.
Milton, Dad's only sibling, was 5 years younger. Dad recalled that when the doctor was attending to his mother's giving birth to Milton, at their home, she would cry out in pain. Being in the next room he decided to help her and got a kitchen knife and went after the doctor. Fortunately, he was only 5 and was easily disarmed.
He remembers when the home was wired for electricity. His Mom and Dad took turns flipping the switch on the wall and watching the ceiling bulb glow on and off. Initially, he wasn't allowed to operate this wonder.
Dad went to Oak Grove elementary school across the street from his house. He attended Bay View high school and graduated in 1927.
In his early teens an event that would determine his future occupation occurred. In the early 1920's he heard that you could hear music and voices in the air if you had this thing called a radio. He went downtown and bought a radio kit, which included some wire and things called a crystal and whisker, and a crude set of headphones. He strung a wire from the house to the garage, which he learned was called an antenna. Hooking his crude radio to the antenna he put his earphones on and moved the whisker around on the crystal until he heard some voices. He ran to tell his parents who came and took turns listening in amazement. The radio station was located in Zion Illinois. This was the starting point for a 52 year career in repairing radios, phonographs, and beginning in the 1950's, television. After high school he took some courses of instruction in radio offered by the School of Engineering of Milwaukee. In 1928 at age 19 he began work at the Noll Piano Company as a radio repairman. They were just beginning to sell radios and phonographs. He worked for Noll for 42 years, and Imperial Magnavox for 10 years as a repairman. It's interesting that Noll shut down on a Friday and he began work at Imperial on the next Monday. He was very fortunate that he was never laid off. He finished his working career doing part time work at Marsh Electronics. He retired on his 75th birthday in 1984 after 56 years of employment.
In the middle 1930's he would "hang out" at a filling station where he met another young man by the name of Roy Schlicke. Roy introduced him to his older sister, Mildred. On June 5th, 1937 they married. Initially they lived with his parents but soon moved to a rental home at 36th and Becher. There I was born on July 8th 1940. Mildred's sister, Erna, recommended a rental home near 76th and Beloit. We moved there in 1943 or 1944. There Gerald was born on October 23rd 1945. In October 1957 Mom and Dad bought their first and only home on 89th and Cleveland. Dad would live there until September of 2004. He then moved to an independent living apartment at the retirement community of Tudor Oaks in Muskego. He lived independently until November 5th, 2006. He was blessed with good health until the last two months of his life. It is interesting that the 5th of the month were notable dates in his life. He was born on March 5th, married June 5th, lost his ability to live independently on November 5th, and die on January 5th. I will never forget that my wife Bonnie was able to be at his side and minister to him in his final moments.
Dad had two main hobbies; woodworking and HAM radio. He was an excellent wood worker. He made many things for others as well as himself. Most if not all of what he made was of his own design. He made various large cabinets, TV stands, and similar things for others as well as for himself. His designs and workmanship were excellent, but he allowed others to do the staining or painting. Functionality was his goal. He continued his woodworking until about age 94. He particularly enjoyed making "ducks" and "tax shelters". He had fun asking what the tax shelters were before he revealed the answer. This always resulted in a laugh, which pleased him. He estimated he made several hundred of these that he gave away over a 20 - 30 year period.
He received his radio amateur license in 1947 and it was a great social group for him. He also repaired and built various electronic devices mostly related to HAM radio. A portion of his basement workshop was devoted to building and fixing electronic things. As his strength and eyesight started to fail, HAM radio increased in importance to him. In his later years he more actively participated in the Milwaukee Florida Net from 6:00a.m. to 8:00a.m. This group of 40 or more HAMs was on every day. For the 26 months he lived independently at Tudor Oaks this was his main social activity.
Dad had a laid back or "go with the flow" personality. He was a quiet humble man. His mind was excellent to the end and he had a memory that those who knew him well, admired. As his health problems increased he would mildly complain about them and often finished with "and that's the way it goes, and then it gets better". He rarely got angry and if he did he would express it by a harder edge to his voice. Those who didn't know might not even think he was upset. The normal irritations of life never seemed to bother him. If the power went out it was no big deal. A more extreme example was a time he still lived at his home and fell in the bathroom after a shower about nine or ten o'clock at night. He couldn't get back to his feet and worked his way to a phone but didn't call us until around 6:30 a.m. because he didn't want to inconvenience us. He reluctantly gave up driving at age 91, but he accepted the logic of it and didn't make a fuss about it. He agreed to leave his home of 47 years and move to Tudor Oaks reluctantly but willingly. He adapted to this change with no visible emotional difficulties. I believe he graciously accepted all declining changes in his lifestyle to please his sons and daughters-in-law.
He laughed easily and I think it contributed to his years. His favorite sit-com was Seinfeld, but he enjoyed the Andy Griffith show and the King of Queens. His favorite comics were Pickles, Crankshaft, Garfield, Mutts, and Beatle Bailey. The comics were the most important part of the paper to him. When he worked at Imperial Magnavox he was affectionately know as "weird Harold". He enjoyed that title.
After he fainted on the morning of December 23rd and was hospitalized in distress, I believe he knew he was near the end. He accepted the transfer to Ruth Hospice on the 27th. The chaplain met him on the 28th. She told me Dad said he was glad he didn't die in the hospital. She asked why he felt that way. He said because they were giving him thickened water, which contained the wallpaper paste ingredient cornstarch. He didn't want to end up pasted to the wall. The chaplain said she laughed and could tell he was ready. It was typical Dad to get a laugh out of someone using his circumstances as the subject of a joke.
One of my endearing memories will be the 6 years he visited with Mom while she was in the nursing home. She'd had a stroke and could only communicate in a limited way. He went every day except once a week when Bonnie took his place. He would spend 3-4 hours or more with Mom each day. The nursing home was across town in Glendale about a 13-mile trip through the city. Mom passed away on September 23rd 1992 at age 79, Dad was 83. He dealt with his grief privately and again went with the flow and adjusted to this huge change in his life in a calm fashion. After Mom died Jerry and Chris often with Mike and Julie would bring a meal to his home or apartment weekly. Bonnie and I would do the same. Dad looked forward to these family get-togethers and was grateful for having a loving family.
Although Dad didn't attend church regularly, we learned in his later years he accepted Jesus as his Savior. By phone, he shared morning devotions with Bonnie the last 2 years of his life. Now he is with the Lord, Mom, and all those he loved who passed on before him. He is survived by Allen and Jerry, their wives Bonnie and Chris, three grandsons, Joe, Dan and Mike, six great grandchildren, Nathan, Rick, David, Elyssa, Wyatt and Allison.