By Wayne Hamburger

Go back Home
previous chapter     next chapter
Go back to the table of contents



The house purchased in Springfield was a new spacious brick home located at 2305 Lindbergh Boulevard. It was located in the southwestern section of Springfield known as Westchester Subdivision. Lindbergh Boulevard had been named for Charles A. Lindbergh who had flown a mail route from St. Louis to Spring field. Westchester was built on the site of the old airport before a new one was built north of Springfield. Remnants of the old runway could be found each time the earth was dug for a tree planting or a home foundation. Westchester residents were friendly and neighborly, making the Hamburgers feel right at home from the very start.

Wayne's new job assignment was in the headquarters building for the State Department of Public Aid, about two blocks west of the Capitol building. The job consisted of writing personnel procedures to comply with state law and federal regulations. When the written procedures received the approval of the director and his staff, they became a part of the manuals and directives furnished to each staff member. The work was exciting because it required the interaction of the policy writer and top department staff on a daily basis.

After six months in this activity, Wayne learned that a new bureau was being formed within the department and would be staffed with people who were experienced at all levels of public aid operations. Wayne put a bid in early for one of the staff positions and was the first one hired by the new bureau chief. This new bureau was to oversee all quality control activities within the state department of public aid (which numbered 10,000 employees at that time). Wayne was joined by six other personnel and this group set up the structure for the new bureau and hired the staff to run it.

Early in 1974, the quality control bureau chief received a job offer from the state of Washington and he left Illinois. The bureau chief's job was offered to an administrator from the Chicago office and when he refused to move to Springfield, Wayne was offered the top job in the bureau. On February 13, 1974, Wayne received a memo from Deputy Director Ryan that he would officially become bureau chief of quality control on February 16, 1974. The quick advancement to that high level executive position was more than Wayne could have imagined. It turned out that his disappointment at not getting the regional administrator's job in Champaign was a blessing in disguise. The position in Springfield was much more prestigious and much more remunerative.

The bureau of quality control subsequently combined several smaller units within the department under its direction. Wayne had three section supervisors who reported directly to him. The total staff of the quality control bureau reached 350 personnel by the summer of 1974. Wayne's staff was engaged in a number of new and innovative projects to weed out fraud among the clients, medical providers and department employees. Some of the ideas, such as cross matching social security numbers with lists from the city of Chicago, U. S. Post-office, and Illinois employee files uncovered a number of fraudulent payments. Review of paid medical bills also revealed that several physicians and druggists were double billing and falsely billing for services not provided.

As could be expected, several of the culprits objected vigorously when caught. When the quality control staff found a number of public aid clients on employee lists and canceled cases due to their fraud, the welfare rights organization began complaining to the governor. Governor Dan Walker had been holding a series of town meetings throughout the state and at every stop he was confronted by the welfare rights group. He ordered Wayne to report to his Chicago office on north Lasalle Street to give an explanation of what was going on. Wayne was intimidated at first by Governor Walker's gruff manner, but when the process was fully explained, the Governor realized that Wayne's staff was saving millions of state tax dollars. At the end of the meeting, Governor Walker's mood had changed completely and he told Wayne to keep up the good work.

When the quality control bureau continued to weed out the fraudulent cases, the Chicago newspapers began to print stories about Ryan's raiders and the Hamburger helpers. Deputy director Ryan and Wayne Hamburger received a lot of ribbing about the publicity which they were receiving in the newspapers. This favorable publicity also led to some unfavorable publicity from a well-known columnist.

Mike Royko had been contacted by a disgruntled staff member who had received a "less than satisfactory" job rating. The angry employee told the columnist that he could show that the quality control bureau was not doing as good a job as the reports had shown. Mr. Royko sent over an undercover reporter to verify the story. The reporter arrived in early afternoon when several Chicago quality control staff people were taking a late lunch break. Lunch breaks were staggered so that there would always be some personnel at the work site. Those on lunch break were eating sandwiches, playing cards, reading newspapers and relaxing after a hard morning's work. The undercover reporter conveyed the message to Mr. Royko that the government employees he observed were goofing off and wasting tax dollars. This is the report that showed up in Mr. Royko's column the next day. Although the column proved to be embarrassing to Wayne, the director and the Governor, everyone realized the truth of the matter and it didn't get further press attention.

During the course of these many activities, Wayne split his time between the Springfield office and the Chicago office. For several months he flew every Tuesday and Thursday morning to Chicago and returned to Springfield on the last flight each evening. Air Illinois Airlines out of Carbondale flew routes to and from Chicago each day. The airline used the small Meigs Air Field located on Lake Michigan just east of the Chicago downtown area. It was an adventure to fly in the small aircraft of Air Illinois and experience the take offs and landings over Lake Michigan. The air currents over the lake created some rough rides at times. Some employees refused to fly on those aircraft and took the train instead. Air Illinois eventually added a larger aircraft that held 40 passengers. Wayne flew on the maiden trip of that aircraft and many dozens of times afterward. A few short years later, this same aircraft crashed and all aboard were killed near Pinckneyville, Illinois. The resulting lawsuits effectively shut down Air Illinois. Wayne can forever be thankful for his safety during the many hours of flight during that hectic period.

There were also many trips taken on the major airlines to cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. Wayne's position as chief of quality control in Illinois brought him into contact with heads of other state quality control units. He became very active in the national organization of quality control chiefs. This allowed the sharing of ideas and concepts between the state governments as well as the national government. The Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare had general oversight of the welfare programs in each state and the state quality control units served as liaisons for federal quality control requirements. These trips were educational and rewarding to the participants as they realized their capacity to influence national policies.

On one flight to Washington, D.C., Wayne was privileged to meet Senator Barry Goldwater. Wayne had admired Senator Goldwater for his stance in respect to the Vietnam War and his run for the presidency. Senator Goldwater proved to be a very personable and gracious man. The several minutes that Wayne spent with the Senator in his first class cabin are treasured memories.

The year 1974 wasn't all positive. During the last week of July that year, Mandel's brother-in-law died in DuQuoin. After attending the funeral on August 1, 1974, Wayne and Mandel were driving back home and were involved in a terrible crash. It had been a very dry July and as they approached the city of Hillsboro, Illinois on State Route 185 a light rain started falling. The wet asphalt had become very slick and Wayne didn't recognize the danger. As he approached the stop sign on State Route 127, he started to brake and the car started sliding. The car slid into the opposite lane and hit another car head on. Luckily, Wayne and Mandel were both wearing seat belts and were uninjured. Moni (their poodle) was thrown under the dashboard, but survived with only bruises. The persons in the other car were not so fortunate. It was a small foreign-made car which was completely destroyed by the impact. Wayne was driving a large Oldsmobile and it, too, was totaled by the impact, but not nearly to the extent the small car was. A young couple with their 18-month-old daughter were the occupants of the other car. The father was unhurt, but the mother and child were hospitalized.

The little girl suffered broken legs as a result of being thrown against her restraints. A totally helpless feeling came over Wayne when he visited the child in the hospital and witnessed her suffering. She was encased in a cast from her ankles to her waist line. Her legs were elevated from an overhanging pulley which limited her movements. Wayne had never been more sorry for his actions in his life than he had been at that moment. Although it was an accident, it is apparent that all accidents can be avoided if one uses caution. The subsequent court hearing and fine for driving too fast for conditions just added to the guilt that Wayne already felt over the little girl's injuries. He was comforted by the thought that the child's safety restraint had saved her life. It was also evident that all the other passengers escaped serious injury because they were wearing seat belts. The accident led to some very scary nightmares for months afterwards. The little girl recovered fully and the lesson Wayne learned from the experience stayed with him.

In the moments just prior to the automobile accident, Wayne realized a crash was about to occur and it seemed to pass by in slow motion. It was like a bad dream, where one realizes he is in danger, but his legs won't carry him away from it. Those moments could be compared to a few years earlier when he was standing at the end of a double barrel shotgun, not knowing when or if it would be discharged. Wayne and Mandel had driven from their home in Champaign to spend the weekend with his parents. Thelma was baby- sitting with his nephews and Wayne was trying to teach the older one how to catch a ball. When the young boy kept bobbling the ball, Wayne laughed at him. The child became very angry and told him that he would kill him. Several minutes had gone by and Wayne had forgotten the incident until he went in the house. The child had taken a shotgun from a gun rack in the bedroom and now aimed it at Wayne's stomach and pulled the triggers. The gun belonged to Wayne's youngest brother, who had wisely stored the gun unloaded.

This incident just re-enforced the already established belief that guns are dangerous and have no place in a home. It is possible that Wayne could have been just another statistic in a long list of accidental shootings. Children, especially, do not recognize the danger of such weapons and adults must accept the responsibility when they are misused. The national debate over gun control seems rather senseless when a child lies dead from a gunshot. The motto that states that guns don't kill, people do, rings a rather hollow sound in such instances.

A few days before Thanksgiving in November 1974, Mandel received a telephone call that her oldest brother had died of a sudden heart attack. Although he had been sick for many years, it was quite a shock to all the family. Within a month, her oldest nephew's wife died also with a heart attack. She was still in her 30's. From July to December of that year, Mandel's family had experienced three deaths. The trauma of these deaths, along with the car accident that year, made Mandel and Wayne glad to see the end of 1974.

In 1975 the public aid department moved its central offices into a building that stood near the corner of 2nd and Monroe Streets, directly across from the state capitol building. This made it handy for the staff to walk across the street to confer with members of the legislature, the governor's office and other state officers located in the capitol. Some years later, the building was razed to make way for the construction of new state property.

Wayne had developed painful varicose veins in his legs over the years and they deteriorated to the point that it became necessary to have surgery. About four or five spots had enlarged to the size of eggs and Wayne's physician felt that surgery was the only corrective measure. The only other occasion when Wayne had been hospitalized was for a two-day stay in Carle Hospital in Urbana for a urinary infection. The varicose vein surgery proved to be a major one and incapacitated him for six weeks before he could return to work. The surgery consisted of inserting a wire in an incision at the ankle and exiting it at an incision in the groin area. The doctor then placed a steel ball on the end of the wire and pulled it out along with the diseased vein. This procedure was done on both legs. Except for the loss of a considerable amount of blood, the surgery went well and he recovered nicely. The surgery was performed in August 1975.

When Wayne returned to his job, he found that a controversy had developed in his absence. Prior to his medical leave, the public aid director had consulted with Wayne about the high error rate in the public aid cases state wide. The federal government penalized each state when the error rate exceeded a certain figure, and the Illinois error rate greatly exceeded that figure. When the director suggested that maybe the state could hold back some of the error reports, Wayne conferred with the federal representatives to see if that could be done. They advised him that once the sample of cases had been drawn for review, none could be removed from that sample. The completed cases revealed that the overall error rate was down.

While Wayne was recuperating, an employee had leaked a story to the newspapers that the Illinois Department of Public Aid had altered its error rate by withholding error-prone cases from the sample of cases reviewed. This was totally false, but an investigation was prompted by politicians who hoped to make political gain by embarrassing the governor and his staff. When Wayne returned from sick leave, he found himself immersed in a swirl of controversy about the role of quality control in the so-called cover up. He had to give depositions to special prosecutors and appear before a grand jury appointed to investigate wrong doing. Ultimately, everyone was cleared of wrong doing and the work settled into routine once again. Thanks to precise record keeping and staff integrity, a much ballyhooed investigation was laid to rest about the middle of 1976.

On the first day of spring March 21, 1977, Moni, the Hamburger’s beloved pet succumbed to a series of maladies and old age. She had been a part of their household for nearly seventeen years and her death left a big void in the lives of Mandel and Wayne. She had shared six different houses in four separate communities with her owners. She not only shared their house, but their bed as well. During the night she waited until Mandel and Wayne were asleep, then she would slip onto their bed where she would be found in the morning, acting as if she belonged there. This dog had given love and affection to her masters and they enjoyed returning that love. Wayne was so grieved by the loss of his pet that he could never entertain the idea of replacing her with another one. He was advised by both the veterinarian and by friends to get another puppy as soon as possible. He decided that he could not bring himself to face the loss of another pet and never replaced her. The following is Wayne's tribute to her:

A brown curly bundle of canine beauty;

A faithful companion regardless of time or place;

A loving childlike creature with boundless devotion;

A toothy grin that welcomed me home;

A frisky tail that signaled delight;

A tilt of the head that said she understood;

A twinkle in the eyes that reflected pure joy;

A unique bark that revealed her mood;

A spunky grunt that said, "Scratch my back";

A wet nose against the glass betraying curiosity;

A chin across my knee that said, "I need you";

A wet tongue lapping my forehead for only reasons she could tell;

A playful nip at my hand when I teased her;

A hurried romp to the door at the sound of the doorbell;

A mocking peek-around the corner in a game of hide and seek;

A circling dash around the yard daring me to catch her;

A scurry through the house after a bath;

A nap in my chair when her tummy was full;

A chin in my lap when begging for a bite;

A menacing growl when an intruder was near;

A trip under the bed at the sound of thunder and lightning;

A pleading cry for help when getting her hair clipped;

A cocky prance around the house when freshly groomed;

A nosey poke into all strange bags, boxes and packages;

A windswept face out the car window with ears flapping;

A constant pacing from side to side with every auto ride;

A vigil at the door when she expected my return home;

A Dairy Queen cone as special treat;

A thorough distaste for wind and rain;

A joyful romp in new falling snow;

A conceited snub of a stranger's touch;

A warm, brown, furry body draped across my shoulder;

A prancing dance when she wanted her food;

A loud lapping slurp when she quenched her thirst;

All of these memories of Moni burned into my memory forever.

June 11, 1977 marked the 25th anniversary of Mandel and Wayne's wedding. They both believed that they should do something special to commemorate the occasion. They needed to ease the grieving over the loss of their pet as well as celebrate, so they chose a Caribbean cruise trip. They drove to New Orleans about the middle of May 1977 and visited with friends for a few days before embarking on a Russian cruise ship. This was at a time when the United States and Russia were involved in something called a Cold War. Some considered it un-American, but the trip proved to be enjoyable, relaxing and worthwhile. The Russian crew members couldn't speak English and none of the passengers could speak Russian. The cruise director conducted a class each day to teach a few basic phrases in Russian. The Russians responded to the feeble attempts at speaking their language by becoming more friendly and open with their guests.

The time on the cruise ship became one continuous food orgy with four meals a day and treats in between. Side trips to Cancun, Mexico and to a banana plantation in Honduras rounded out the full vacation paradise. To Wayne, the cruise proved that people are the same the world over regardless of nationality. Political leaders may disagree on many things, but the common, everyday citizen varies little from country to country. Citizens of the United States are blest with much more in the way of material goods; however, the basic worth of the individual is spiritualistic and not materialistic.

When Wayne and Mandel returned from the cruise, their neighbors Chris and Johnny Bennett invited them to their home. When they made their way across the street to the friends' home, they noticed that an out-of- town friend was also walking to the same location. Once inside the house, they realized that a big surprise had been planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Approximately 60 people had arrived to celebrate the occasion. It was one of the best gifts that the couple had ever received in their married lives and they truly appreciated the generosity of their friends and neighbors.

Prior to the cruise, Wayne had made a concerted effort to exercise and lose weight so that he could fit into his bathing suit. He purchased an exercise jump rope and used it regularly for weeks before the cruise. The ship contained a fully equipped exercise center and Wayne took advantage of that. As a result of the exercise over several weeks and during the trip, he was able to maintain his weight in spite of all the food aboard the cruise ship.

When he returned to work, one of his co-workers suggested that he try running for exercise and weight control instead of the jump rope. At first, this did not sound appealing. In time, at the urging of the staff member, he started jogging. He quickly adapted and found that it was a most enjoyable means of exercise. He learned that there was a small group of men and women who had formed a running club called "Springfield Roadrunners." He applied for membership and was accepted. He found the camaraderie of the men and women in the club to be inspirational for his own running goals. The club sponsored road races and participated in races throughout the area. Wayne approached his first race with much anticipation.

A three-mile run was scheduled on a Saturday morning through the downtown area of Springfield. Wayne was accompanied to the race by Mandel and some of his family who were visiting from Southern Illinois. They advised him that they would remain near the finish line to cheer for him when he was completing the race. They unwisely reasoned that it would take Wayne quite a while to finish a three-mile course, so they went to a nearby restaurant for coffee. When he came within a block of the finish and he could not spot either Mandel or his relatives, he was greatly disappointed.

Several minutes after he had completed his run, they all returned from the restaurant to find him fuming. He had completed his first race and had no one with which to share his triumph. He was so irritated that he did not hang around for the awards ceremony. Several hours later, some of the running club members came to his home and presented him with a trophy he had won for the best time in his age group. It was a bittersweet moment. Needless to say, Mandel made a special effort to be present when he finished other races in the months to come. He gradually improved his times by participating in several six- and ten-mile races in addition to the shorter three-mile races. He was privileged and rewarded with more trophies.

After the move to Springfield in December 1972, Wayne had given up on his plan to graduate from college. The University of Illinois did not schedule off-campus courses in the area, and it was too far to drive to Champaign on a regular basis to attend class. He had completed all the requirements for his undergraduate degree except for 12 semester hours. The degree was not considered that important anymore in view of his advancement without it. Still, there was a nagging feeling that there was some unfinished business. When a friend suggested that the degree could be obtained through another university, Wayne was open to it.

The wife of a fellow worker was a professor at Eastern Illinois University. She contacted Wayne and urged him to enroll at that school, and she assured him that he could earn the credits he needed to graduate. The university was one of several schools under a Board of Governors program. They had established a special program whereby full-time employees could engage in part-time schooling to earn their degrees. Early in 1977, Wayne enrolled for enough hours to earn his degree. The work was completed in off-campus assignments combining research and written reports.

It was with great pride that Wayne took his place among the graduates at Eastern Illinois University in June 1977. The receipt of the Bachelor of Arts Degree fulfilled a life long dream. All hope had been lost for earning the degree during the five years in Springfield with no classes available. He had longed to graduate from the University of Illinois, but since that was out of reach, he was very happy to get his degree from EIU. At long last, 20 years after he had first enrolled in college at Southern Illinois University, he obtained his degree. When a new college was established in Springfield called Sangamon State University, Wayne applied for and was accepted in graduate school. It didn't take long to decide he really was tired of going to school.

In 1978, Wayne read in the newspaper that a nearby music company was going out of business and would be holding an auction to dispose of new pianos and organs. He reasoned that if he purchased an organ for Mandel, she would renew her interest in that musical instrument. They both went to the auction and successfully bid on an organ that Mandel liked. When the organ was delivered to their home, they found that it would not work. After consulting with the auction company, they were able to deduce that the owner of the music store had cannibalized that particular instrument for parts. After much haggling and waiting, the error was finally corrected and Mandel had her organ on which to practice. She took to it immediately and the lessons that she had received years before were still beneficial to her. The organ music was comforting and enjoyable for both of them. It proved to be a welcome addition.

They had maintained their love for gospel music over the years in spite of the fact that they did not attend church anywhere. They regularly purchased records of the leading gospel quartets and attended all the concerts that were within driving distance. The Blackwood Brothers quartet came to Peoria and Springfield during that period and the Hamburgers enjoyed their singing immensely. They also attended concerts held by Bill and Gloria Gather and the Spears family. The gospel music seemed to fill a void in their lives in the absence of church attendance. Mandel played all the popular gospel tunes on the organ.

Although they were happy with their lives, they still were concerned about their spiritual needs. They often discussed the possibility of returning to the Gospel Assembly church some day without ever setting a definite goal for that purpose. They assumed that it would be some day in the distant future when they had both grown old and frail. Life was great in Springfield and they could not ever see themselves leaving that community. They loved their home and enjoyed the company of many friends. Both were happy with their jobs. Mandel held a part-time job at Roland's Ladies' Wear which allowed her time to enjoy her home and her work. Their long-term plans were to retire in Springfield.

After much discussion about their need for church, they decided to drive the 100 miles to St. Louis to visit T. M. Jolly's church on Tesson Ferry Road. This was the closest church available that was comparable to the one they attended in their youth. The church members there were not friendly. They seemed to look on visitors as intruders. Nevertheless, the Hamburgers enjoyed the music and reasoned that they would give it another try in the future. There was nothing else about the church that appealed to them.

In the spring of 1980, Wayne noticed a pronounced change in his ability to run. He seemed to get out of breath easily and lose his stamina after a short period of exercise. He entered a three-mile race at Jacksonville, Illinois in April. A few members from the Springfield Roadrunners were entered in the race, but all the officials were local men and women. At the start of the race, each member had a large number pinned to his or her shirt so that a record could be kept of each individual's time. Wayne competed in the age group from 40 to 50 years old. He was easily identifiable by his gray beard and his bald head ringed by gray hair.

He began having trouble within the first few moments of the race as his legs felt like sand bags. He doggedly ran the full course but finished last behind everyone. The race officials were making preparations to hand out trophies when Wayne finally showed up at the finish line. One of the officials ran over to him and double-checked his race number. He jokingly told Wayne that he was sure the man who held that number at the start of the race had a full head of black hair and was clean shaven. Wayne wasn't amused by the comment. He was just happy to finish the race even though he staggered over the finish line gasping and fully spent.

In June, the running club sponsored a race at Riverton, a Springfield suburb. The race course was laid out around a high school track. Wayne ran only about one-half mile and finished the three-mile course by walking. His lung capacity seemed to have depleted itself to the point that minimum exertion drained him. He couldn't understand what was happening. He tried to move some sod from his neighbor's yard in a wheelbarrow and this proved to be more than he could do. He had no physical pain or any other sign of disease, yet something was dreadfully wrong. At last, Mandel insisted that he see their family physician to diagnose the problem.

The family doctor was a young man who had just entered practice in the community. He, like Wayne, was an avid runner. He completed all the routine tests, but could find nothing wrong with Wayne. He was concerned that there had been such a change in his running prowess so he ordered Wayne to see a cardiologist. He explained that a stress test would be conducted by the heart specialist to determine if the problem was related to the heart muscle. The visit to the cardiologist was the start of a long journey into unknown territory.

Wayne's stress test had been scheduled at St. John's Hospital on a Friday afternoon. The physician introduced himself and assured Wayne that since he was an active runner there should be very few problems with the stress test. Nothing could have been further from the truth. After a few moments on the treadmill, Wayne started gasping for air. The doctor was watching the monitor closely so when he sensed the problem, he removed Wayne from the treadmill immediately. He told Wayne to lie down on a bed near by and left the room. He promised to return promptly, cautioning Wayne to lie still.

When he returned, his face mirrored his mood. He told Wayne that he had some very alarming news. He proceeded to relate how the stress test had revealed some severe blockage in arteries around the heart. He wanted Wayne to check into the hospital at once. His somber appearance was directly opposite to the light-hearted banter that had proceeded the test. He went on to explain that in a normal test he would have to review the test results for an hour or more. In this situation, he indicated that the findings were clear. He could not specifically identify which arteries were affected, but he was almost sure it was the left main artery to the heart. His recommendation was that heart surgery should be scheduled as soon as possible. He explained that an angiogram, which consisted of inserting dye into an artery, would be necessary before the surgery to determine the exact location of the blockages.

Wayne had to remind himself that this was not a soap opera which could be turned off and forgotten. He always realized that this scenario is repeated in doctors’ offices every day, yet he could never have imagined that he would be involved. He reasoned that he had exercised and taken good care of himself, which in his mind, shielded him from heart troubles. He advised the doctor that he would have to discuss the situation privately with Mandel outside the hospital. The doctor reluctantly agreed after some argument. He pointed out that there was cause for alarm, because the tests showed that Wayne was very susceptible to a heart attack. He did not want to accept the responsibility for releasing him from the hospital setting. Mandel was contacted at work and told to meet Wayne at the office of their family physician. The cardiologist called the family doctor to brief him about Wayne's condition. Mandel was just as shocked by the report as Wayne had been. They decided that they had no choice but to follow the instructions of the cardiologist. Wayne checked into St. John's hospital as recommended.

Wayne's roommate was a patient who had undergone previous heart surgery and was in the hospital for follow-up. The roommate proceeded to tell Wayne how horrible the angiogram had been for him. He related that when the dye entered his arteries, it was extremely hot and painful. He continued to describe the procedure in graphic detail, indicating that he felt as though his teeth and mouth were on fire. This was enough to convince Wayne that he didn't want the procedure done on him. When the cardiologist entered the room and heard the story from Wayne, he called to a nurse and had him moved to another room. Although the test proved to be uncomfortable with a slight warming sensation throughout the body, it was not anything like that described by the other patient. It was actually very interesting to watch on the monitor as the tube and dye were inserted. The hardest part of the test was the fact that the patient has to remain perfectly still for eight hours or more to prevent blood clots. Sand bags were placed around the leg and groin area where the incision was made to deter movement.

Wayne kept a diary of the different procedures up to and after the surgery. In it he recorded that the angiogram confirmed the doctor's diagnosis of a major blockage in the left main artery. He also was told that there was evidence of at least two other blockages and a suspected problem with a valve in the heart. Another angiogram was scheduled to confirm the heart valve problem. The first angiogram had been done from the groin area and the second was done from the right arm. Following this test the heart surgeon appeared and he explained that he would be performing a triple bypass operation and repair of a valve, if needed. The surgeon proceeded to inform Wayne how lucky he was that the problem had been detected before the onset of a major heart attack. Wayne didn't feel at all lucky at that point.

Wayne was moved into intensive care immediately after the test so that a heart pump could be attached. The pump was supposed to provide stability to the heart prior to the surgery. Surgery was performed in the afternoon on Wednesday, October 8, 1980. He went to surgery shortly after noon and was moved back to ICU between 7:00 and 8:00 P. M. The respirator was removed the next day, allowing him to talk to Mandel and the many friends who came to visit. The heart pump was removed on October 10, 1980. Within a couple of days, he was able to walk down the hall a short distance with assistance from a nurse.

On the night before the surgery, Mandel had gone home when visiting hours were over, and Wayne was left alone with his thoughts. He reflected on his life and whether or not it might end at this point. He knew that there were other things he wanted to accomplish in his life. The surgeon had explained all the risks of the surgery and the possibility that one may not survive. He had performed hundreds of bypass surgeries, but he expressed some concern because of the specific location of Wayne's blockages. The hospital release forms were sobering because the signing of the forms absolved the hospital in case of heart attacks, blood clots and death. The forms even outlined the possibility of a loss of a limb as a result of a clot during surgery. As scary as the surgery seemed to be, the alternative offered no hope. All the doctors agreed that Wayne would die within a matter of days or weeks without the surgery.

As Wayne was thinking on these issues, a Catholic sister wearing a habit, poked her head through the door way and asked if she could have a word with him. She explained the seriousness of his situation and she expressed her concern about his spiritual welfare. She asked him if he believed in prayer and he assured her that he did. She placed her hand over his and knelt down beside the hospital bed and began to pray. She asked him to join her in the prayer.

Wayne cannot explain fully what transpired in that room, but clearly there were some major changes made in his life. A transformation and exhilaration occurred that exceeded the experience he received when he was spiritually converted many years before. An overwhelming sense of peace and comfort enveloped him, wiping away completely the fear of surgery. He became relaxed and confident that God would deliver him through this period of trial. He went to surgery in a state of serenity that he had never known before.

He can't remember the words of the nun's prayer nor the words he spoke to her. The nun's faith seemed to engulf him at the moment of the prayer. She faithfully visited him after the surgery and continued to offer words of encouragement. Wayne asked her for her business card so that he could always remember her name. Somehow, over the ensuing years, the card was lost and this precious lady can't be identified. God knows who she is. What an angel she was, not only to Wayne, but to all the patients in the cardiac unit of St. John's Hospital. Wayne's early church training would have suggested that he could not find the Lord's help through the prayer of a Catholic and in a Catholic hospital. There could have been no greater proof of this false assumption than the spiritual blessing he experienced..

This experience with God transcended the one that Wayne received when he was thirteen years old. It felt as if God's presence was all about and he had only to reach out to Him to feel His spirit. Through the years, Wayne had become a habitual user of foul language. He regularly used curse words in his everyday activities to express himself. The swear words flowed in all his conversation and even when he addressed his employees in staff meetings. Following the experience in the hospital, the expletives stopped. His co- workers could hardly believe the changes that were made in Wayne's demeanor. He was more patient and understanding and controlled his temper a lot better.

Wayne and Mandel had been social drinkers ever since they had quit the church in DuQuoin. There were times when they attended parties and dances and became inebriated from alcohol. Wayne had even converted part of the basement of his home into a well-stocked bar, where he gave parties for his friends and associates. When he returned home from the hospital, he boxed all the liquor and asked a neighbor to come and remove it. Some of his friends were puzzled by the changes in Wayne. Others thought he had gone overboard with his newfound religion.

The nun had shared a newsletter with Wayne following the surgery, and much of it described Wayne's situation. The material was written by Father Eugene Weitzel:

"Perhaps you have not thought about God and your relationship with Him for a long, long time. Or perhaps you have thought about Him once in a while, but continually postponed getting involved with religious and spiritual matters. Perhaps you have gone so far as to reject God and religion and all that goes with it. If so, now might be the proper time to take a hard look at your life and ask yourself the following questions--

1. From a moral and spiritual point of view, where have I been? Have I been serving God faithfully, or have I turned my back on Him, preferring worldly and material things to Him?

2. Where do I stand with God at this moment? Could I afford to die this instant and stand before God naked and alone to give full account of my stewardship? Where would I go if I died this instant--to heaven or hell?

3. Where am I going with reference to God; am I willing to reject sin and be reconciled with God? Do I really want to lead a better life; to be a better person? Yes, a hospital bed provides a patient with spiritual oppor tunity--time for prayer and reflection."

The emotional state of individuals who have undergone open heart surgery is important in the healing process. Some persons have drastic personality changes; others have memory loss and yet others go through deep depression. Wayne was told by the hospital social worker that he could expect some of these changes in himself. He did observe changes in other patients on the cardiac wing of the hospital. Wayne's primary concern was that he had difficulty in concentrating at first. He also became very emotional. He became weepy-eyed over matters that were inconsequential. He began to worry about whether or not he would be physically normal again. He wanted to return to work and had some doubts as to whether or not he would be allowed. He loved to work in his yard and garden and stewed over his limitations in this regard. He also wanted to resume running, exercising, and remaining physically active. Although Wayne and Mandel were told by the social worker that they could resume an active sexual relationship, Wayne had some misgivings.

In such a state of anxiety, heart patients are highly vulnerable and especially incapable of making long range plans and goals. Mandel was exceedingly protective and willing to humor him in whatever decisions he made. While in this recovery process, Wayne began to formulate plans that would change their lives in a drastic way. Wayne reasoned that God had brought him through the surgery and that God had a special plan for him. He began to believe that God wanted him to return to his religious roots which were located in Southern Illinois. He became obsessed with the idea that God was directing him to return to the Pentecostal church in which he had grown up. All of this was formulated in spite of the fact that he had become reacquainted with God through the efforts of a Catholic nun.

Reverend Witkop, from a local Lutheran church, had visited Wayne faithfully in the hospital. He had prayed with him daily and counseled with him in addition to the staff at the hospital. Wayne told Rev. Witkop of his plans to return to Southern Illinois. Rev. Witkop pointed out that one could serve God in any locality and it would not be necessary to relocate for that purpose. Wayne argued that only those who spoke in tongues and followed the Pentecostal teachings could be saved. The pastor was kind and patient with Wayne; nevertheless, he was perplexed by such an unreasonable argument. Wayne's relatives were ecstatic over the news that he wanted to come back to their church. They encouraged him to go ahead with his plan. They were being taught by their pastor that Jesus would be returning soon and only those in the Pentecostal faith would be accepted by Him. They convinced Wayne that if he did not return to that church, he would not be in the favor of the Lord. They described excitedly in a telephone conversation a great revival that was to take place in 1985. It was their belief that thousands of church members from other churches would come to hear T. M. Jolly and his associates explain the scriptures and prepare worshipers for the return of Christ. Jolly claimed to have had a vision telling him how the multitudes would flock to the Gospel Assembly churches starting in 1985. The revival was to restore the church to its position in the beginning when the Apostle Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and 3000 persons were saved. Jolly's message was that the revival would last until 1992 and end with the return of Jesus to take His people back to heaven.

Wayne was caught up in the hoopla. He was enjoying his newfound spiritual awakening. He felt as though he could commune with the Lord each waking hour. He followed the doctor's orders and walked two miles around the neighborhood each morning; as he walked, he prayed and rejoiced in the Lord's spirit. He had never felt so spiritually uplifted in his life. All of this led him to believe the stories he was being fed from the Gospel Assembly church in DuQuoin. He became convinced that God had spared his life so that he could participate in the restoration of Christ's latter reign church. He concluded that he must find a means of getting back to DuQuoin so that he could attend the church services.

When he approached his supervisor to ask for a transfer to Southern Illinois, the man looked at him as though he had lost his mind. He believed that heart surgery had altered Wayne's reasoning power. There were no jobs outside of Springfield that were comparable to the one Wayne filled. In order for him to transfer, he would have to agree to a reduction in job assignment and a reduction in pay. Wayne assured the supervisor that he was willing to take the reduction so that he could return to the southern part of the state. The supervisor told Wayne that he would have to present his proposal directly to the head of the Department of Public Aid. When Wayne met with Director Miller, he too was just as bewildered by the request as the immediate supervisor was, but he could not change him.

Wayne became so obsessed with the need to move that he contacted a political friend who was a Republican senator from the southern part of the state. He provided a letter of recommendation to the Governor's office. Within a few weeks, a position opened up and Wayne was given the job headquartered in Marion, Illinois. He could not explain to his superiors in detail about the need to move because he knew they would not understand moving to be near a church. No one could understand Wayne's willingness to take a $10,000 per year pay cut. The Lutheran minister, business associates and friends all tried to convince him that he was making a mistake, but Wayne would listen to no one.

The first order of business was to sell the home in Springfield. The house held many happy memories. It had been Mandel and Wayne's dream home. The wife of Wayne's immediate supervisor was a real estate agent, so she was given the task of selling the house. She was also curious about the reason for the sale and Wayne explained that he wanted to get back to the church where he had been saved many years before. She pointed out that there were dozens of good churches in Springfield that he could attend. He proceeded to tell her that it was absolutely necessary to get back to his childhood church where the people spoke in tongues. She gave an immediate response that a group of members in her church spoke in tongues regularly.

This came as quite a shock to Wayne. The real estate lady had been a Catholic nun and she fell in love with a priest. They had renounced their vows and married, but were still members in good standing at the Catholic church. Wayne could not believe that his boss' wife was a member of a tongue speaking group, but she assured him that it was true. She referred to the phenomenon as glossolalia. She indicated that a large group of Catholics participated in the experience. She explained that they meet in small groups and pray until they are moved by the Spirit to speak in tongues.

Wayne could not be convinced that God wanted him to be a Charismatic Catholic. She asked him to attend one of their prayer meetings and he declined. He was afraid that he would get side- tracked from his mission of returning to the Gospel Assembly church. The real estate lady balked at Wayne’s request to add $5000 to the sale price so that he could give it to the church in DuQuoin. She explained that if she sold the house for $5000 more than it was worth, the money would be something she had earned and would not be a sacrifice offering from Wayne to the church. Wayne had to agree with this reasoning and deferred to her estimate on the house's worth. She sold it for the market price within a period of two months even though properties all around the area were not moving due to an extremely high interest rate on loans. Wayne was sure that this provided the final proof that he was doing the right thing by moving from Springfield.

Presently contemplating the consequences of the decisions made in 1980, Wayne can find no other place to put the blame for such poor judgment other than on himself. It is true that his state of mind and his weakened defenses weighed heavily on the resulting decision to move. Regretfully, it was directly in opposition compared to the other elements of his life. He was an experienced administrator with a college degree and the supervisor of 300 persons. Normally, he would have not made a hasty decision without gathering facts. Intellectual reasoning played no part in this matter. He would never have moved so hastily in his business affairs, but in this instance, he jumped to a conclusion without a sound basis for doing so. He didn't even pray for God to guide him. He just prayed that God would give him what he wanted.

Although he does accept the blame for this bad resolution, he cannot help but feel that he was wrongly influenced by his relatives. Had his parents truthfully appraised him of the promiscuous activities of T. M. Jolly, he would not have been so quick to follow his leadership. They figured that what Wayne didn't know wouldn't hurt him. How wrong they were. He spent the next ten years trying to reconcile his spiritual needs with the requirements of a religious cult which would concern itself with nothing except the preservation of its leader.

Nine months after Wayne's heart surgery, his father was hospitalized in DuQuoin with heart failure. Wayne's youngest brother, Galen, called to say that he did not expect their father to recover. Wayne left work at once and picked up Mandel so they could drive the 150 miles to the hospital where Dedrich Hamburger lay dying. He expired before Wayne could get there. All the way to DuQuoin, Wayne kept thinking about Dedrich's father who had passed away in that same hospital with Clifford and Wayne at his side. The vision of Frank Hamburger dying stayed with him. Death seemed to claim his extremities and then gradually work inward. His muscles contracted as each one was shut off from the nerve cells that controlled them. His breathing became shallow and his heart rate slowed. Finally, he just exhaled gently and there was no more breath left. Death is not a pleasant thing to behold. Frank and Dedrich Hamburger were both uneducated and poor, but they were rich in love, kindness, respect from their peers, and in their relationship with God. No one could ask for better lives after which to pattern himself.

Clifford fit into that same mold. Wayne has always looked up to him as a big brother more than as an uncle. Clifford provided emotional support for Wayne at all periods of his life. He could have been critical when Wayne stopped attending church, but he chose to offer encouragement rather than faultfinding. He can also be pointed to as a paradigm for Christian living.

When Dedrich died in June 1980, Wayne had already decided that he would relocate to the southern part of the state. Dedrich’s death served to strengthen Wayne's resolve to make the move as soon as possible so that he could be near his mother.

Go back Home
previous chapter     next chapter
Go back to the table of contents