Ron and Elise Buechel Helfrich

September 27, 1986

To our four sons and daughters-in-law
You are truly the pearls of our lives


Margie Sneed,  Paul, Mary E. Helfrich, Chuck,
Elise, Ron, Jackie, Cleo Sims Josey, Bill, Les

Whiteman AFB Hospital 
Where Ron was born - September 22, 1958

Entrance to WAFB and a plane


You are next.  When I got pregnant with you in Germany, we were due to rotate back to the states in July and you were due in September.  So, you were all over Europe and the United States before you were born.  I woke up September 22 and said that I knew this was going to be the day, even though all four of you guys were almost two weeks late.  I said that I needed to get the house straightened up right away.  Sure enough, while working on the house, the contractions began.  

I then said that I needed to get groceries in since I would be in the hospital for a few days.  So, off to the grocery store.  Up and down the aisles, eating a bag of cookies while shopping.  When a contraction would hit, I would stop and sit down on one of the lower shelves until it was over.  Got home and put the groceries away and then said to your dad "well, I think it is time to go to the hospital."  So, off we went to the base hospital at Whiteman Air Force Base, just outside of "Knobnoster," MO.  The doctor told me that maybe this would be a girl.  I told him that I knew you were going to be a boy, so I was able to say "I told you so," as soon as you were born.  He said "you certainly knew what you were talking about, didn't you?"  He said you were healthy and weighed 9 lbs.-3 1/2 oz., 21 1/2 inches long, and you were born on a Monday.  Your doctor was Dr. Lensink and your nurse was J. Wentz.  The nurses were all talking about how cute you were and how you were the biggest baby they had in the hospital for many, many months.  You also had red hair and blue eyes.  But, then the next day, another woman came in who was a reporter and she had a little girl that weighed almost 11 pounds, and they put her in the bassinet next to you, and then you were sort of dwarfed all of a sudden.  I remember one day, I saw them coming down the hall with you in your blanket and I asked them where they were taking you.  They said they were taking you to get your pencil sharpened.

You were a good baby and no problems for a time.  Things settled down for a few months and the next thing I knew I was pregnant with Paul.  So, by this time, I was getting the hang of this thing.  Your nickname was "Tom Drooly," because you always drooled.  That name came from my Sister, your Aunt Angie.  It stuck for some time too.  You had a growth on your neck when you were about three years old that just popped up and they had to take you into surgery and drain it out, where they got a cup of vile fluid, that they said they had never seen anything like it before.  You also were unfortunate to be bitten on about four different occasions by dogs and had to have the rabies shots which left you allergic to the rabies vaccine  Those were some scary times.  

You were also pretty good in school, and did fine in the military schools, just as Bill and Les had done, but you were les than thrilled with Booker T. Washington, and Robinson High when we got into civilian life.  But, you really enjoyed the band, also being in the concert band, playing the drums.  By now, the long hair fad was in and the pictures are something that you still get razzed about from your children today, right?  Your favorite sport was scuba diving and here is a link on one of the nicest things you did that everyone is so proud of you for having done.  Click here for newspaper article.  Then click on lower right corner.

You were planning on going into the service and at your physical exam, they found that you had a kidney problem.  You had to undergo many tests, one being a kidney biopsy which determined that you had Berger's disease, also known as Glomerolanephritis.  You had to go on dialysis while they evaluated everyone in the family, with no one matching as a possible donor.  Almost four years later, you were fortunate enough to be called to the hospital where they had a kidney for you from a young man not much older than you from Miami and we were all so very thankful to that family. 

You went to work for an insurance company where Paul was working and that is where you met Elise.  She worked at the same company and you two began dating.  I was so glad that I was able to help in your wedding planning because we never had a daughter to do that for.  Your wedding was so nice, with so many family and friends attending.  You and Elise were fortunate enough to have a daughter and son in the next few years.  You always had a decent and kind side too.  You, just like your brothers, would and do help people out all of the time.  We are certainly proud of you in more ways than you will ever know. 

Right after your wedding, you went to work for a national investment company and worked your way up to supervisor of customer service.  But, it was a pressure cooker type of job, where you had more stress than you needed, you lost your transplanted kidney and began to have all sorts of health problems.  You had taken good care of that kidney, and it had lasted for 16 years.  When that kidney failed,  the next several years were more than rough, but everyone who knows you, stands in complete awe of your strength, tenacity, determination, and will.  How many times have we said that there is always someone else who is much worse off?   You have fooled the doctors more than a few times, as well as many others.  We feel sure that you will get another kidney soon, and things will be looking up for all of the family.  You know how much we all love you and in addition to that, you have all of the admiration and more that we all have for you.  August - 2003

P.S.  Update as of July 16, 2004 - HOORAY!!  They came up with an experimental program where your brother, Paul, was able to donate a kidney to you.  We are all SO thankful for this miracle.  See the story on Ron and Paul's Odyssey Page.

Love you, Mom and Dad



Ron - 1957



Ron and Paul - 1962



1977 - Write-up in yearbook on Ron - Contest in next photo


Ron - 1978 or 1979




1986 - Ron


Click on article and then click on lower right corner

Ron and Mom - Alaska - 1998




2004 - Ron


06-2005 - Alaska - Alyeska Resort and Seven Glaciers Restaurant


Ron - We are so happy for you on the first anniversary of your second kidney transplant, thanks to your brother, Paul
July 16, 2005

Elise, since you collect frogs, you just knew that I would have to put some kind of frog graphic on our page, didn't you?

Per Elise's mother, Suzanne, she wanted her mother to give her a permanent on August 21, and a neighbor went to buy the permanent package at the store.  After the permanent was finished, Suzanne started dinner.  She then decided to take a shower to get the smell out of her hair, and while in the shower, her mucus plug came out and she knew they would not let her eat at the hospital, so she proceeded to dry her hair and then went in to eat.  Then, she told everyone she was in labor, and Gene put her and her suitcase in the car.  As they are driving over the bridge to Tampa General Hospital, Suzanne asked Gene if he could stop by her mother's on the way, since she lived on Davis Island.  Gene said that they had one bad tire and he was afraid that if he went on over there, they may have a problem getting back to the hospital in time.

When they arrived at the hospital, there were no wheelchairs available and no elevators, so the nurse walked Elise up two flights of stairs, while Gene was completing the admitting paperwork.  The nurse examined Suzanne, saw that Elise was crowning and she crossed her ankles and tied her legs together, while she called the doctor. 

The doctor wanted to put Suzanne under, but she said no, because she had her son without anesthesia.  She asked the doctor for a piece of gum, as they wheeled her in and gave her a spinal, which did not have time to take effect, because Elise was born immediately.  In the meantime, Gene finished the paperwork and went to the delivery floor and saw a man sitting there with sunken eyes, scruffy beard, and looking very gaunt with an ashtray full of cigarette butts on the table by him.  Gene surmised that he would be in for a long haul also, so he went to get a cup of coffee, and came back and before he could sit down, they called on the phone for Mr. Buechel.  He answered and they asked him which he wanted, a boy or a girl.  He said he already had a boy, but it did not matter to him.  They said "well, now you have one of each, because you have a girl now." Elise's grandmother took care of Elise's brother, Scott in in Tampa, and Elise's granddad was in Wisconsin and he kept calling her Elsie. 

Elise's childhood was an average childhood, with her having a little dog that sat between her legs (Rags) and protected Elise, if anyone came near her.  In kindergarten, Elise was still sucking her thumb and the teacher made her come up in front of the class and suck her thumb, which did the trick; Elise quit sucking her thumb.  Elise had lots of dolls, mothering them, and wanted 12 children.

Suzanne kept her in dresses and at Berkley Prep School, she had to wear shorts and she did not want to wear them.  The school won out on that one.   Elise took dance, ballet, tap and was in recitals every year while a young girl.  Later, she went to Plant High School, and graduated from there.  She went to work at an insurance company where she met Ron and they were married shortly after that, having two children, a girl and then a boy. 

Elise, thank you for being there for Ron and the family through the thick and thin.   

Love you, Chuck and Jackie







Elise - 1982?


Just a neat little piece of history

Elise's dad's hospital bill when he was born 03-22-1929


For "AFTER WEDDING" for Ron and Elise and family pictures, check with Jackie for the link at
[email protected]

Background Music - "String of Pearls"