Category Archives: Pt. 1

Thanks and Thankful, Yes We Are!!


Remember, It is not Happy people who are Thankful, It’s Thankful people who are Happy.  


A lot has happened my dear friends, colleagues, family, and supporters since the last newsletter release.  I’ve gone from writer’s cramp and printing presses to post-publication with press releases and now, pseudo-marketing efforts.

The Tampa Jewish Book Fair was a very good, immersion experience; I spoke with people interested in exploring new books and authors.  

This past Sunday, November 19th was B’nai B’rith’s, Mini-Book Fair which gave me the opportunity to polish my presentation and give insight into the book and why it is worthy of people’s interest and consideration.

With this newsletter, we embark on new and uncharted waters.  So far I’ve been involved with two book fairs here in the Tampa Bay area and they have been both very provocative and informative.   I’m looking to expand this to other locations and plan to visit Washington and then New York City and some other major metropolitan areas on the East Coast in the near future.


Presentation from B’nai B’rith Mini-Book Fair Presentation, November 19, 2017

We have devised three versions of the book available for purchase. There is the $36 full-blown color addition with over 130 color photos of pictures, letters, charts, maps, documents, etc. The second choice is the $24 version, a modified color edition which includes 40 color pages.  Then there is the Black and White version, which is selling for $18 and is available on

All copies purchased with the exception of the $18 Black & White version will be autographed by the author himself.

$ 36.00  Color version (130 color pages)

$ 24.00  Partial Color version (40 color pages)

$ 18.00  Black and White version (Available on

The beginning of next month, I’ll be heading up to New York for the Jewish Writer’s Seminar on Sunday, December 3 for a chance to meet with fellow authors, publishers, and editors.  It will provide the whole gamut of getting the best bang for the buck so to speak for reaching out to new audiences.

Moving Forward

I will be undertaking writing projects including possible additional books and new blog postings.  A following is a sampling of the topics.

What America means to me:                         

What Immigrants means to America:       

Messages and guideposts to dwell upon:

Good feelings from good actions:             

The one that I am most excited about is:

Thank you for your support and I wish you all a great holiday season and as always we welcome any of your thoughts and comments.


This is just one of dozens upon dozens of letters reflecting the outpourings of love that these two-people shared for 67 years.


It’s so much more than just letters, it’s insight into what it takes to make a life more meaningful.  It also teaches us how to be a person that can deal with the urgencies of life with all its exceptional moments.  Whether Joe Baby was helping build a museum; hire staff; prepare budgets for Congress; or plan the day to day operations, he certainly did it with a deep seeded passion.  

Joe Baby’s passion and commitment to “doing what it takes to get the job done” is clearly reflected in his actions.  For example, for two years Joe Baby commuted from New York to D.C. to support the creation of the Hirshorn Museum.  He would leave on a Monday and catch a shuttle from D.C. to New York and fly back from New York on Thursday night where he was able then to assess the progress of the Hirshorn Museum.  Talk about commitment.

Joe Baby continued to save pictures, documents, and even budgets.  He was of course involved with pertinent discussions with Mr. Joseph Hirshhorn and the Curator, Abram Lerner.  He even drew a reaction from non-other than Pablo Picasso during some sensitive negotiations.

This is how Joe Baby worked for 38 amazing years with his all his jobs in the Federal government and at the same time being equally successful creating a life of his own,  a family, and keeping a marriage intact.  

As I have said before, he wrote, collected and documented everything and it’s now available for all to see firsthand.  What it took to work with this lifetime partner reaching so many milestones and all the special times together were truly astonishing.  

After retiring from the Washington Museum accomplishment, he took part as Finance Officer/Administrator in the establishment of Ruth Eckerd Hall (REH) in Clearwater, FL and here again, you can see the letters and all the background information.  In addition, you can learn what it was like working with Arnold Bremen, the Executive Director who had a penchant for bringing all this together.  Arnold was the foundation of this Great Hall; the wonderful shows, and Dad certainly documented this as well.

Upon the completion of Joe Baby’s work at Ruth Eckerd Hall he was back in full retirement mode.  Now is the time for creating new milestones.  For example, A 50-year anniversary with Thelma returning to Europe 50 years later and retracing his WWII experience.  Much-to-do about introspection on reaching the magic age; dealing with what you can do.  Joe Baby acknowledged “What America meant to him” like the 50th Anniversary Article about the GI Bill that has allowed millions of returning soldiers the opportunity to start and/or complete their education.  Or the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of all the horrors of the Concentration Camps where millions perished including at least 15 of his family.

Joe Baby always went the extra mile to acquire the necessary skills to “get the job done”.  This is what the book is about.  How you can reach the next level, and how people can glean from the work they choose to do.  

I’m one of the fortunate ones who has been the purveyor of the “guide” of the saving this for posterity.  Whether it’s advice on writing better, joining the toastmasters, building a better vocabulary, analytically challenging yourself, you can find it in American Dreamer:  ~Bill Sefekar  

What Dad shares with us is the introspection and accumulation of these meaningful things that Joseph Sefekar had acquired.  He backed it up by writing about it and sharing it with us.  He talks to us about these meaningful things’  like long-lasting friendships.

“To realize early on how important it is to keep an inner circle of friends you could rely on and trust.  I was so fortunate that these friends would be enduring and follow me through most of my life.”

One such friend, Martin Sobel, wrote a letter of recommendation.  The letter of recommendation stated that ‘Mr. Sobel could unquestionably stand by his endorsement of my character for over 16 years.’  “Considering I was only 24 at the time, then this meant I must’ve had something going for me, even when I was only eight years old.  It was good to carry this around, and hopefully, the personnel reviewing my credentials didn’t check the math.”  

In the picture above you can see Mr. Sobel’s letter is dated June 26, 1941.
(see pg. 24 in the book)  

All through his career whenever he left a position he was always celebrated.  Like when he departed the Veterans Administration in 1952.(pg89) Or the Letter of Recommendation from the Continental Air Command in 1959 and again when leaving The Civil Service and Small Business Administration in 1969.  Also, after seven years of serving as the Administrator for the Hirshhorn Museum.  One letter he received after his retirement was from one of his staff members.  She wrote in glowing terms….

Dear Mr. Sefekar,  

“You are as much a part of, to everyone, of the Hirshhorn as the beautiful works of art, and I know everyone will miss you.  It’s you who’ve kept us smiling with your calm, kind, leadership.”  

American Dreamer lends itself to so many wonderful messages, literally hundreds, so many things that can be garnered from this to shape students, young people and seniors alike who perhaps face life’s challenges can find help in American Dreamer.  

Whether it’s the student studying approaches to become a complete individual or the average person yearning to look at the brighter side, American Dreamer offers this and describes what it takes with a little bit of extra effort to achieve your goals.  Every chapter inspires us to say “yes, I can do that, or I can to make a difference, maybe I should go for it.  Joseph Sefekar did not do this for the affirmation, the acknowledgment, he did it because he was a caring person. Whether it was his family, loved ones, friends, people that he worked with or just strangers he was there and he was available.  He was always enamored with education and learning so he said, “Let’s build a library.”  Yes!  In his 80’s, he helped do this too.  The East Lake Community Library in Florida is another testament to Joe Baby’s “Just Do It” attitude.

Why did Joe Baby save and preserve all these documents and memories?  

Simply because he knew the importance of life lessons he took the time and the effort to save and preserve so many documents and memories and to make them available for all our future generations.  TO LEARN FROM THE PAST.  

Another example of this finding in one of Dad’s folders of the “Century Countdown” which was a series of the last hundred years. This series appeared in the St. Petersburg Times every day starting on September 23, 1999, and up to the fateful December 31, 1999, the millennium in the year 2000. Dad had meticulously cut out each year and each day, starting with 1900 and then collected them in this folder for me to find.  I cleaned it up and scanned them into the computer and this was a part of the blog post for Joe’s lifelong legacy “some of the major years in our family’s life and then quarter century groupings.”

Although it wasn’t cost-effective to put this in the book,  it will be available to people who have the book through sporadic updates on material that we deem to be relevant. This will be one of these extra added attractions that we will provide to our readers that will appear in the upcoming months and year.

I hope I can reach as many people as possible so you all have an opportunity to pick up a copy of this to carry around with you: Words to live by Joe Sefekar; “Joe baby life lessons.”

Again, have a great Thanksgiving and holiday season, wishing you all the best, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a copy of the book under the Christmas tree, under your Hanukkah bush or even under your pillow. ~ Bill Sefekar






The Newsletter for March 2017: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined – Henry David Thoreau.

It’s hard to say whether my father Joseph Sefekar walked confidently in the direction of his dreams but he developed a sense of purpose. He developed the tools that was necessary in dealing with life’s exigencies. He knew what support was going to be needed whether it was family, education, and/or a lifetime partner – that was the mortar that put the bricks together. This mortar: Thelma, was the essence of his success and it didn’t hurt that it would be his companion for over 67 years to work with and share with and accomplish with.

So, what made Joe Sefekar confidently go in the direction that would lead to much accomplishment, much success. What are the building blocks that transcend ordinary and mundane to become a legacy.

These are the words, these are the messages: it’s important to form a solid basis of family, loved ones, friends, education, learning the ropes, faith in yourself and others. Some of the adages that have helped Joe have stood the test of time. But todays foundations are certainly quite different from when Joseph Sefekar started out a little less than 100 years ago. Today, people are not as patient, persistent, I wouldn’t say dedicated but in our today’s rush, rush pace another old standby of “stopping to smell the roses,” doesn’t apply unless your cell phone cannot only create the picture but emits the fragrance of a rose garden.

There is a lot to learn from the heroes of yesteryear, solid, stalwart, conscientious, determined, steadfast, provincial, proficient. Throw in loving, caring, self-sacrifice, buoyant, determined. Knowing is not enough as prescribed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. So these are the words in the message of Joseph Sefekar; the book is sprinkled, exudes these kinds of examples, introspectively woven about, around a lifetime that fostered such results.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. Know your heart and follow it!

We opened with Henry David Thoreau so it would be fitting to close with one of his adaptations. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

As mentioned previously, Joe Sefekar meticulously cut out from the paper, the individual articles from each of the Century Countdown years starting on September 23, 1999; 1901 and for the next hundred days. What I have done was make sure that they were clipped and appear three or four years on the page. The 1st quarter century was in the last post. This Blog portrays the next quarter century from 1926 – 1953. The following Blog postings will complete the rest of the 20th Century.


Figure # PPB1.1 Century Countdown  1928, 1929, 1930, 1931  Century Countdown   Figure #PPB1.2 1932, 1933. 1934,1935


Figure # PPB1.3 Century Countdown 1936, 1937, 1938    Figure #PPB1.4 1939, 1940,1941


Figure # PPB1.5 Century Countdown  1942 1943, 1944,1945  Figure #PPB1.6 1946, 1947, 1948,1949.

Figure # PPB1.7  Century Countdown   1950, 1951, 1952, 1953.

We live in an age where the word “transparency” is really a very good description, as we become a part of the “see-through” age.  With having your phone and your computer you can “see-through” just about anything or come back from anything.  This is what is being done in promoting “American Dreamer.”  We can go hither and yon with flashbacks and details of Joe Sefekar’s life.

 As mentioned in last month’s Newsletter, my very dear friend Dr. Hank Koren has completed his remarkable compendium dealing with our fragile environment. His 20th Book is entitled “Best Practices for Environmental Health: Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality, and Sustainability.” It deals with the many approaches of combatting air, water, and ecological pollution. I’ve referenced his credentials for being able to write this state-of-the-art technical masterwork.

Figure # PPB1.8  Dr. Herman Koren’s New Book on Best Practices for Environmental Health

This Book Helps You Understand Each of the Major Environmental Problems and Each of the Sub Problems As well as means for resolving Them called; Best Practices, The easiest way to retrieve this is to put inHerman Koren – CRC Press Online .  I found this interesting and thought you would too:

However, I was sorry to hear about Dr. Koren not feeling well and requiring a hospital visit. He is home and on the mend and I’m glad to say returning to the arduous task of following through on his publishing pursuits. Although not as precarious and uncomfortable as his health issues but equally troublesome was my extended current bout with flu-like symptoms. Writing and authoring is not for the faint-at-heart.

I must say that it’s been over 20 years since first starting to sit down with Dad, typing the hand-written pages and notes that he crafted and wrote so lovingly, about and throughout his life. This was a very pleasant part of the endeavor. The last 1 ½ years has been somewhat more draining. I know what it’s like to expend a lot of energies into your writing routine; day in and day out. Be assured, it can take its toll on the author; asserting a great deal of effect both beneficial and not so good.

So, stay tuned for more of Joeslifelonglegacy.  We have a number surprises that will add a far-reaching look as we transcend back to yesteryear.


As an added feature for our readers and audience we are also posting on twitter, @JoesLegacy and on Instagram, items that appear in the book and related matters. We are still eliciting your comments and suggestions. I hope to develop a running dialogue with you all, as many of you have provided us with comments that appear in the social media and we value that. I try to get to them as much as I can with the help of my associates and do appreciate my valued followers.

Pre-Sale for the Book is Now Available!

Pre-Order your Autographed Hard-Copy by Clicking the Button Below!


 January 2, 2017 by William Sefekar


Pre-Sale for the Book is Now Available!

Pre-Order your Autographed Hard-Copy by Clicking the Button Below!






SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2016, 7:30 PM

Well, welcome to the New Year, 2017.  It should arrive on time in the next few hours.

Love, Peace, Hope, Faith; Be Kind, Be Wise, Be Brave!

I want to wish you all a most salubrious and positive encounter with the fates.  2016 has produced a number of pleasant milestones.  Joe Sefekar would’ve been happy in seeing what he felt was his extremely important contribution to getting onboard for the train ride through almost 100 years that had taken us from the early years the 20th century to the first decade and a half here in the 21st century.

This book is being written because Joe Sefekar’s experience relates to so many of the millions of stories of people like the Sefekar’s and immigrants that came to this country to break free from the yoke of subjugation, misery, hopelessness, poverty and could use the building blocks of what this country afforded those that were lucky enough to make it to its shores.  Together they forged a better nation, a nation that is so amplified by the timeless, refined woman who stands ready to welcome so many of the downtrodden, huddled masses and until then, ill-fated.  

It is amazing that this is so perfectly exemplified in the Hirshhorn Museum’s contribution to the Bicentennial exhibitions in 1976 less than two years after it opened its doors; which Joe Sefekar as Administrator played a big part.  The Exhibit just happened to be about the influence of immigrants, and particularly in the realm of art and culture.  However, the bigger theme; “Contribution of Immigrants,” should be applied to the Golden Door, coming to America as we know it.  It is worth revisiting.

Figure #PP.1  Part of the Hirshhorn Bicentennial Exhibit 1976

Artist -Immigrants of America. 1876-1976

So, Joe Sefekar left us a legacy but he didn’t just leave a legacy, it is a legacy vibrant and is meaningful today as it was when he started his quest to keep all of this intact.  This is a wonderful country, a unique country, a blessed country and we cannot take it lightly.  We need to keep the dream alive.  Become “American Dreamers” like so many millions that was exemplified by this man; it is our responsibility, it is our duty to live the dream and make it better, we all must become “American Dreamers.”  Please don’t take this responsibility lightly, the mindset of,” Let George do it,” does not apply here.  We must do it, we must do it in our communities and in our neighborhoods, in our relationships both on local and national levels.  

This country has been faced with challenges and has “persevered” as Joe baby would say.  It is even more prevalent today and at this time; so follow your dream.  But don’t dream alone, take others with you that are close by and share, reach out just as the “Lady” reaches out, offering her hand, her outstretched arms and bids us to become part of the American Dream.

How can one person, it cannot be fathomed, how one person aside from his daily activities of husband, war hero, father, with college degrees; successful career in management and government; building museums and performing arts centers, involved with libraries, community affairs and his Temple, Jewish war veterans and other service organizations, how could one accumulate such a massive amount of original material.  What’s even more remarkable that everything was in such an organized, orderly fashion (not anymore) that one could easily put his hands on and go “Back Into The Future” as we’ve seen done on a Hollywood set.  

A couple of cases in point follows: in Dad’s cache of hundreds of amazing World War II artifacts that part of is presented in Chapter 4 of the book; Marriage And The War, one comes across interestingly enough, papers that had SECRET stamped on it.

As can be seen from this three-page letter from Four-Star General Eisenhower, Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, to Five-Star General Gen. George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army for all Army forces both in Europe and in the Pacific.  What makes this so profound is that this letter was transferred approximately three weeks prior to Victory in Europe, (VE Day), May 8, 1945.  

It explains in detail the different forces that were at work.  One with the US forces and the other with the Russians spearheading efforts that would allow them to get to Berlin first, while the American Expeditionary Forces in conjunction with the British were battling from the western side of Germany which involved more intense combat related actions as the Germans had located more troops and tanks there.

Figure #PP.2 SECRET Letter from General Dwight Eisenhower and General George Marshall on plans for the ending World War II

The situation that Eisenhower referenced and documented was so strongly etched in his mind then but have now become faded and difficult for us to comprehend now.  Upon liberating Germany there were many, many features to document this but this also allows for one to pick up what Gen. Eisenhower found so hard to believe and try to express his disbelief of what he had seen in these internment camps, and concentration camps.

It was determined that because of the length of time, “over 70 years” that this document could be used and made available. Another example of how Joseph Sefekar managed to maintain much of this material that transcended over years were photos of his army soldiers celebrating the New Year on December 31, 1944 in France.  This proved to be a very critical time with the ensuing Battle of the Bulge taking place during the first weeks of 1945.  It was the German’s last concerted effort to break through the allied lines with their Panzer Tank Divisions in search of fuel depots to keep their tanks from running out.  We could hear tanks rumbling through the snow-covered hillside of the French Ardennes forest not knowing whether they were American or part of the German armored division. It was quite terrifying and created havoc with our troops and especially at First Army headquarters where we quickly gathered up all vital military and top-secret papers, maps that would be destroyed rather than falling in the hands of the enemy. Over 20,000 Americans were killed another 20,000 were captured and 40,000 wounded. The British sustained over 1,000 casualties and was the greatest loss of American soldiers on the Western front during the War. The turning point came on January 3, 1945 when the weather began clearing and allied air dominance crushed much of the German offensive. January 3 also marked Thelma and my third anniversary; yes, it was indeed a very good omen.

February and March showed great progress for Allied Forces. Upon reaching the Elbe River in Germany, Joe and his comrades-in-arms made an appropriate gesture, it was called relieving themselves on their way to Berlin.


Figure #PP.5  Joe with 1st Army Headquarters buddies, December 31, 1944 Prelude to the Battle of the Bulge

Figure #PP.6  Joe with US Troops crossing the Elbe into Germany, “It was a Great Relieve”

Figure #PP.6  Seeing the Light, It would be another 3 months before the War’s end and “Going Home.”


Today marks the last day of Hanukkah which in the Jewish faith this holiday known as the Festival of Freedom and/or Festival of Lights.  It was the first successful organized religious uprising and managed to defeat the Greeks and restore the Temple in Jerusalem. When the high priests returned to the Temple, they found it in much disarray and there was only enough holy oil to keep the lamps lit for one day.  However, the lights kept burning for eight days while the high priests prepared new oil.

It is most fitting that this is the kind of bond that has transcends our ancestry and provides us with a taste, reflecting the kind of Joe Sefekar’s inner strength; his desire to believe and live in the Light of Freedom.  There is also a song that is recited during this holiday that was written by Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary fame.  It is called “Light One Candle,” in the spirit of freedom and hope we share this with you.  How Judah Maccabee and his five sons actively fought a war of attrition and will of attrition against the larger Greek forces and were eventually victorious to have the Temple returned to the Jewish people.

Words and Music by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary

Light one candle for the Maccabee children, With thanks that their light didn’t die, Light one candle for the pain they endured When their right to exist was denied, Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice Justice and freedom demand But light one candle for the wisdom to know When the peacemaker’s time is at hand.

Chorus: Don’t let the light go out! It’s lasted for so many years! Don’t let the light go out!  Let it shine through our hope and our tears. (2)

Light one candle for the strength that we need To never become our own foe And light one candle for those who are suffering Pain we learned so long ago Light one candle for all we believe in That anger not tear us apart And light one candle to find us together With peace as the song in our hearts


What is the memory that’s valued so highly That we keep it alive in that flame? What’s the commitment to those who have died That we cry out they’ve not died in vain? We have come this far always believing That justice would somehow prevail, This is the burden, this is the promise This is why we will not fail!


Don’t let the light go out! Don’t let the light go out! DON’T LET THE LIGHT GO OUT!

Read more: Peter, Paul & Mary – Light One Candle Lyrics | MetroLyrics

We always liked to dabble in exercises for the brain.  Whether they’d be in the form of doing the Jumble, playing Scrabble, working on crossword puzzles or cryptoquotes.  One of the things that has proven particularly satisfying is the responses we’ve received from social media, i.e., Facebook etc. for what could be listed under categories of “Brainy Quotes,” “Cryptoquotes,” or “Words To Live By.”

We leave you with a few of these that are noticeably pertinent and worth pondering over:











The following is the Press Release that provides details on the expected Release For the book.  It explains what we have presented our viewers over the past 11 months and hopefully will be an exciting portrayal of a man who made a difference in his life and the life of others.  

A man who is worth finding out about, who will give the reader thoughts to ponder over and words to live by.


Figure #PP.7  Press Release Announcing the Upcoming Release of “American Dreamer: A Look into the Life of My Father, Joe Baby, A Man on a Mission; He Wrote It, They Did It, He Saved It.”

In the upcoming Blog posts, we will provide readers the opportunity to take advantage of presale purchases of the book and offer other incentives so that you can receive especially packaged first edition copies.


Copyright © 2017      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas







St. Pete Times

The constant barrage of TV Re: candidates, what they did, what they’re doing and what are they going to do. I can not help my peer’s vis-à-vis the 13 constitutional amendments but maybe I can put in perspective the options available to them on other issues.

First, go out to vote! I noticed that there are a lot of candidates in contention, but somehow I’m missing the party affiliation. Possibly the individuals who are running, would rather not list their sponsor(s).

Use your belly instincts or your gut feeling in making your selection:

  • Are you looking for a hard-core partisan or a demo – Lib?
  • Do you care if your candidate has out-of-state contributions example: $1,319,581 or a paltry $171,805?
  • Do you want a man who will steer the legislature towards protecting our environment or would you want someone who will encourage developers and urban sprawl?
  • Are you for someone who believes in fairness instead of bias; progress instead of stalemate; inclusion instead of diverse of notes; sacrifice instead of selfishness; hope instead of fear?
  • Can you count on your candidate to espouse a logical plan to mold a successful education program? Will he expand construction, assign competent teachers, and improve instructional methods, rather than implement a voucher program that will siphon off needed funds which can be better used for solving known problems in the Education System.
  • Do you want someone to protect Social Security and veto legislation that would privatize social security and permit the investment of social security funds in a volatile stock market that can crash the year that you retire?
  • Elected governor that will support the successful completion of the case against big tobacco, rather than voting for a candidate that has ulterior motives for delaying final action for political use in advancing his agenda.


We were married 63 years – we don’t give up.

First you need a marriage made in heaven and then you live it.

We don’t give up on each other, we don’t create a situation of choices where one or the other has to consciously concede. The day we were married we made plans to honeymoon in Florida. I had seen a vacation display in a travel agency store front window $39.95 round-trip fare to Miami Florida on the Champion including 10 day hotel, lodgings.

My older sister Lucy claimed she had a due bills that could be used as a coupon at the Hotel McAlpin in Florida, at a cost of two dollars a night for 10 days that cost was $20.

She said we could buy the round-trip tickets directly from the Pennsylvania Railroad at a cost of $24 each I total would be train and hotel for the then magnificent amount of $68 versus $ 159.90.

That was a “great deal,” except it was the day before the wedding, and I hadn’t told my wife to be. On top of that, we had canceled the train reservation and were faced with securing new tickets. The hurdle that was there was no tickets available. When I told my wife she had said it was a crazy idea and this was the day before the wedding. But she was wise from day one – it wasn’t me, it was my sister who did it.

The day of the ceremony we still didn’t have the train tickets – I reviewed the situation in my mind. Since we had canceled the day before it was possible the reservation I turned in it would show up as “open”. Well, luckily for us that is what did happen when we came up with the trainmaster. One more hurdle – my wife had expressed a preference for the hotel New Yorker. I had canceled our reservation when I realized the Champion left from the Hotel Pennsylvania. And she didn’t know I had changed our honeymoon hotel from the New Yorker to the hotel Pennsylvania. This meant changing from the Hotel Pennsylvania to the Hotel New Yorker.





Figure #13.1 A Poem, A Reflection

It was during this time in 1993 that I did something that I thoroughly enjoy; working within the confines of the education system. As a volunteer at the East Lake High School just up the road apiece from our house, I was very much at home helping at the school. It also got me involved with a project that was also very much to my liking. It would be working on a new library for our area. Being that I spent a good deal of my youth at the New York Public Library and always surrounding myself in a learning environment, the opportunity presented itself to lend a hand on getting the proper facility in place that would serve this growing community. There were a few bumps in the road; one, we were ousted from our rent free one-room storefront as a paying tenant moved in. And although we did manage to find another storefront in the nearby shopping center it was totally inadequate for our needs. It became evident that county and state monies would be needed to obtain the right combination of location and an adequate facility to house the new library. In working with the group I offered and utilized some of my past experience in whatever assistance to get to hasten the construction and opening of the library. The articles and pictures below depict progress being made on this new addition as the East Lake Community Library. The Grand Opening of the library incurred on October 30, 1999. In the picture below of the article, “East Lake gets ‘little Jewel’ of the library,” shows the entrance to the library being completed and included a brick façade displaying individuals that help make this library possible. Naturally Thelma and I were very pleased and honored to have our names added with the other sponsors.

20161016_140902_resized1 east-lake-public-library-1995

Figures #13.2 and #13.3 Articles about the Opening of the East Lake Community Library October 30, 1999

Most people like to contribute and I definitely concur with the adage, “what goes around comes around” and throughout my life I’ve been most fortunate that I’ll come in contact with people who I think I treated them as equal or not over stepped my boundaries but I went out my way to help others and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. A case in point happen to be in 1998. Thelma and I, her sister Renee and her family as she and her kids husband regularly attended services. My son was also there with us and we would to go to Friday night Shabbat service. Afterwards at this particular service there was the potential new members that attended and were invited to find out more about the Congregation, prayer services, community activities and other incidentals such as religious schools and daycare, etc. There was a gentleman at the table partaking of refreshments who seemed to be a little unfamiliar with the surroundings. So I went over to introduce myself and see if I could be of any help. I remember his name being Bob Mintz and his wife was Carolyn. He seemed like a very positive person with the temperament that would make for a good congregant. I explained how our family was very much a part of Temple B’nai Israel and shared that and told him about why this congregation was special and we chatted for a while and he seemed sincerely interested and I was glad that I had the opportunity make them feel comfortable here at the Temple.

I said you never know what a small feel-good gesture could result in. While this little act making someone feel comfortable came back tenfold so to speak. As it turned out Mr. Mintz and his wife Carolyn and their family joined the Temple. But he didn’t just join the Temple but got involved in the Temple and indeed involved and involved so much so that he served two terms as president which meant that he was involved with the activities prior to that and subsequently continued in many functions after finishing his terms of office as newsletter editor and the Internet and activities that have made a difference not only in the Temple but to the entire community which is a major objective for our Temple. So this is just another example of trying to do the right thing and it usually comes back many times over.

I did manage to keep abreast of the Social Security debates and felt that Seniors would be disenfranchised if there would be wholesale stock trading by people betting, gambling or whatever they are calling it and made my voice heard. Please don’t tinker with senior’s right to a safe and secure retirement.

reply-from-congr-bilirakis-soc-sec-2005 charley-reese-soc-sec-gamble  rolling-the-dice-with-soc-sec

Figure #13.4 Response from Congr. Michael Bilirakis on concerns for changes to Social Security, Figure #13.5 Article from Charlie Reese, and Figure #13.6 Article from Frank Kaiser “Don’t gamble and roll the dice with our Social Security.”

In the last posting I shared with you part of the interview with my Cousin Haim Matalon who came to visit us in Florida from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was during the Gulf War, when Israel was pitted against an array of Middle East nations. Haim and his wife, Yona fled the Scud missiles from the war in the Middle East, and sought refuge with my wife and I. They left their family in Tel Aviv – 3 daughters, and their husbands and 9 grand children. The final part of the story will appear in the book.

haims-story-p7 haims-story-p8 haims-story-p9 haims-story-p10   with-hiam-and-yona

Figures #13.7, #13.8, #13.9, #13.10, #13.11 2nd part excerpts from interview with my cousin Haim visiting from Israel during 1st Gulf War.

Figure #13.12 Picture of Thelma and me with Haim and his wife Yona at a family gathering in Toronto, Canada

Vignette on Patriotism

Patriotism is basic, but its reach is undefinable, its touch is symbolic and its meaning depends on personal conditions and extraneous situations. It’s strange that this subject is treated weakly in the weekend section of the Wall Street Journal “the new patriotism” June 28, 1998. At this time I’m in the midst of a self-styled bio of 82 years although the bio is in the embryo embryonic stage, there creeps through the hint of a certain kind of patriotism – proudly felt but seldom expressed. I have never been called upon to verbally express my relationship to my country. Looking backward I never committed myself to patriotism – it was imbued in me, and essentially by all of us. It was like taking a conscious turn after the depression, induction into the service just like with all the other people had to do and that’s how the service and my thoughts became to develop into a patriotic bond. You have to be lucky, if you’re not lucky, then you have to be able to rationalize everything that happens to you as normal and unavoidable and make it acceptable. And think positive.

And having a family that I cherish helps keep this feeling of loving our country burn even brighter when I think of what it has offered me. As I have stated numerous times, it is not something easily returned. You live it everyday, and the debt doesn’t go away. I see it in my wife’s loving eyes, my devoted children and now the “next generation” – my adoring grand-daughters who are coming into a life of their own. They are going forth in this great “Land of Opportunity” that I once was able to do and have every chance of success. My oldest granddaughter, Diana happened to be selected to become a Page at the State Capital in Annapolis, Maryland. It just would happen during the orientation of the group the Governor at that time, Paris Glendening welcomed them. Coincidentally enough that in their being introduced Diana asked the Governor if he remembered her uncle, Bill Sefekar, he was Bill’s graduate advisor when Gov. Glendening was at the University of Maryland’s Graduate School for Government and Politics. It didn’t hurt that he also managed to do some campaign work in his free time, helping in the governor’s early campaigns for office. It was a nice kind of segue way when the governor acknowledged remembering her uncle and asked about what he has been doing. My granddaughter replied, he was a Senior Transportation Planner for Hillsborough County Government in Tampa, Florida.

My other granddaughter Beth has fared equally as well. She graduated from Sherwood High School, the same one that Diana graduated from 5 years earlier. The Commencement Exercise was also held at Constitution Hall in Washington DC.  There was a special sense of pride when as class president Beth was asked to give the Commencement Talk to the filled Hall that included many noted individuals including Tony Bennett, whose granddaughter was in the graduating class. She impressed not only her family but the entire Constitution Hall with her words: “Reflections on the Future by Beth Landau.” The opening of her speech refers to the lyrics of a popular song at the time, “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack. It’s a beautiful talk and gave us such a special feeling that Thelma and I produced such commendable children and their offspring. It gives me great pleasure to share this with you. Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.


Figure #13.13 Our Granddaughter, Beth’s High School Graduation Commencement Address at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.

These are certainly words befitting any one, young and old alike.

crossword-puzzle-with-special-words  post-30-textbox1

Figure #13.14 Crossword puzzle from August 1, 1998, Figure #13.15 The significance of this particular one

The next three commentaries put into perspective some of my dalliances with growing older. Sometimes making light of things, smooths over the rough edges, as I like to say. In the article by Jay Horning; “A life that’s more tasted than wasted,” he talks about the things he would’ve liked to have done, Like never having had a ride on a motorcycle, flown on the Concorde, etc. and then compiled the list of the things that he did do; the experiences that he had had. I am in that frame of mind, there are many wonderful, challenging, memorable things that are part of my spirit and soul. And what makes it more remarkable was that my life’s partner, Thelma was there with me at my side every step of the way. So there’s not much of a bucket list so to speak that I would change much, but share with you all – That life is too short and too sweet not to give it the “Best ride possible.”

12-48  a-life-more-tasted-than-wasted

Figure #13.16 Thoughts on turning 80, Figure #13.17 on “A Life that’s more tasted than wasted


Figure #13.18 “What is a Senior Citizen”

Thelma and I still made every effort to keep busy and enjoy our fruitful years doing what we wanted. Takes the edge off of people asking you: “Why are you doing this, what made you do that for and shouldn’t you be doing something else.” Well we fooled them. We go to baseball games, we go on trips, Thelma plays mahjong, girl things and I keep busy keeping track of the market and imbuing my thoughts to my grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They also know they can expect a “new word of the day,” and that if they don’t know it, they will have to find out or pay the piper.


Figure #13.19 Taking in a Tampa Bay Rays ball game at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL 1999 with Thelma, Bonnie and Billy

This concludes Part 1 of Chapter 13 Settling Back: It was a Great Ride!!

Next weeks Blog posting will be one of the last one’s with an Epilogue to follow as we prepare for publication of the book.


Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas

MY EIGHTH DECADE, PT. 1, 1987-1997




On February 20, 1987 I reached this milestone; my 70th birthday. I had accomplished much but still wanted to be relevant; even though I was so very lucky. There is my wife Thelma of 45 years, my son, Billy, daughter Bonnie and her family Lee, her husband, her two daughters Diana Jill and Beth Eileen were part of our immediate family; my extended family and hordes of great friends past and present.

I had been blessed with many close family friends, brothers and sisters and friends for a lifetime going back to Canarsie, the War, Thames St., Rose Street across to Long Island, Washington DC and Maryland. In the 10 years since we moved down from Maryland after my retirement from the Smithsonian so many wonderful things have taken place. I was able to grow in other areas and to be part of my wife’s golden years but I could tell there was something in the wind. Things were changing and after my retirement from my second major assignment at Ruth Eckerd Hall, PACT, I re-visited some of the highlights and few low lights and sort of plan things that I would work with Thelma to see if we can make the most of these autumn years.


We were planning trips and also milestones in the foreseeable future; Our 50th wedding anniversary in 1992 and in the back of my mind I had an inkling that I would love to take Thelma and put something in the works in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day landing in Normandy. This would be a retracing of the Allied advances starting in Bristol, England where I was stationed with the First Army Rear Echelon and fighting through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and finally into Germany where victory and the final throes of Third Reich. Yes, to plan something back to Europe and have her share this with me.

So on May 18, 1994, we departed Luxembourg for French territories the first big stop was Rheims we stayed overnight, the next morning we headed toward the city. We passed an old train and 97 years that someone had painted “boxcar” on the side of the old car. The treaty signifying the end of World War I was signed here later, when Germany entered France in 1940, the French were humiliated by having to sign their surrender in the same car at the end of the war in 1945 when the German’s surrendered to Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, Cmdr. of the Allied forces.

12-1 f12-2

Figure #12.1 1st Army Operations Europe 1944-1945 Figure #12.2 Itinerary 50 years later

f12-3 f12-3-2

Figure #12.3 Letter to my very dear Army buddy Irv Bagatelle Figure #12.3 Describing the “Trip Back 50 Years Later.” Page 1

f12-4 f12-5

Figure #12.4 Describing the “Trip Back 50 Years Later.” Page 2 Figure #12.5 Describing the “Trip Back 50 Years Later.” Page 3


In the Jewish religion we perpetuate our family ties by remembering those who have pre–deceased us.

It was an Odyssey that I thought of two months ago. I had a feeling that it was time to visit our parents. On the one hand, it wasn’t a happy anticipation – they had died in 1970. On the other hand, it became a happy obsession inasmuch as we had not been to visit them since 1976, when we moved to Florida. I had decided that it would be a special trip to New Jersey, my wife’s mother had also died January 1970 – her father had died in November 1939, at a comparatively early age.

Our trip required some planning because flying to New York was the easiest part. The difficult part was convincing my brother Al to drive us to the cemeteries. It was a good effort because he is 75. I didn’t realize the energy and concentration required. I was only 77 Lol.

We flew into LaGuardia Airport Queens then to New Jersey where they lived in Lakehurst, 7 miles from Toms River, where my father, Jack Sefekar in 1917, was hurt in a truck accident while working at a munitions depot.

When I first started writing this life story I began by saying – “my parents were poor immigrants in a new land”. They were not “poor” and were not “immigrants”. They were poor in wealth, but rich in foresight and using their innate knowledge acquired through the ages. My parents were not “immigrants” despite their exchanging one physical location for another. Their journey took a logical path within the content of a “new land” in a world that their ancestors had a ready traversed. They paved the way for their offspring, and their offspring to become a permanent fixture and as the star trek manifestation proclaims, “Go forth and prosper.” Over the millennia I’ve had these opportunities to absorb my heritage, of my country and my birthright and blend and weave together into what will be the building blocks of the man I would come. My wife of 50 years played a big part in smoothing out the rough edges even though I wasn’t such a “young Turk” as I would’ve thought. And as you can see from the following guideposts I had tempered with the basics of being part of the larger community or as is bandied around an “expanded village.” But I resorted to the basic building blocks when coming face-to-face, one human being with another.


I’ve developed my own set of constructs that have got me through as I say in order to reach the magic number.


  1. A lot of patience – helps to maintain or heal a relationship.f12-x
  2. It’s helpful not to be too judgmental.
  3. Learn how to forgive.
  4. To practice compromise on a daily basis.
  5. Hold on to a sense a humor for dear life.
  6. Never give up on hope.
  7. Let love take precedence over hate.

I won’t say that I’ve been particularly successful in dealing with women but my advice to men in dealings with women that there are three. words for men to remember – “Compromise and give in.”

Figures #12.6 and #12.7 My philosophy on how to reach the “magic number.”

Funny thing happened on the way to the finish line, actually it was the starting line. The reason I mention this is that my Sonny boy when he first came down Florida 1983 would get into jogging and was inspired by the husband of one of our staff people at Ruth Eckerd Hall who left early from Arnold Bremen’s July 3 party to run in the “Midnight Madness Run” at Honeymoon Island on the Gulf of Mexico. He began in earnest running upon his arrival here and fast-forward nine years later in 1992 also partook in the fun for these midnight races and decided to make it a family affair which meant I was dragged into the fray. I had my own personal trainer, actually physician, monitoring my progress. One of the dearest friends of our family, Dr. David Kalin overseeing my progress. What made this so memorable was a few weeks later I received a letter and a plaque acknowledging I was the oldest participant in the auspicious Kiwanis Midnight Madness Run (**see attachments).


Figures #12.8 Letter to the St. Petersburg Times on my physical triumph

1992- 1ST Gulf War, visit from my Dad’s brother’s nephew Haim and his wife Yona.  They have visited us before but with the Scud missiles reigning down on Northern Israel and the city of Haifa where they lived it was very threatening since Haim suffered from a bad heart. So for over 2 months they stayed with Thelma and myself while the war raged. While he and his wife visited I had an opportunity have him recall his harrowing story about how he survived the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. It wasn’t all that easy since his English was not that good and we couldn’t speak Hebrew that well.  We settled on a mixture of Ladino the Spanish spoken in Spain back in the 1492 when our ancestors left Spain during the Inquisition and some Yiddish terms that Thelma remembered. Bill and I compiled the notes and transcribed to include the more pleasant part of the story of after being freed, how they managed to make a worthwhile rest of their lives and flourish in their new homeland of Israel (**See Attachment of Haim’s Story).

This also offered me a chance to delve into my family genealogical chart and piecing together a litany of my heritage. It got me to thinking of my visit to Salonika 10 years earlier. Also the many others that passed through this city on the Aegean Sea hundreds of years before and back to Spain eons ago . It just so happens that a book was published a few years later on just that; a “A Greek Jew From Salonika Remembers,” Which I hope to provide some reflections on.


Figure #12.9 SEFEKAR (Seficha) Genealogical entry as best as can be determined

During this time, I began to realize how important the memoirs, recollections, writings, documents and notes that I had accumulated over the last 60 years starting back in the 1930’s and continuing up until today and hopefully beyond. What I recommend to others that are interested in tracking their own life story is to keep tabs on things that are important, interesting; making a difference in their lives and the lives of the loved ones that make it all worthwhile. The article that I’m attaching had an impact on me. It is Written by John A. Cutter entitled, “Consider Writing About Your Life’s Legacy.” He spells out important guideposts that are easy-to-follow in keeping your life story moving or a play of words, a moving life story. There are many support groups and agencies, libraries, writer’s group’s available. At this time there was the foundation called the Leibowitz Foundation that encouraged such efforts and even had a contest for those that wanted to try their hand in mind that such writing in its “National Legacy Contest.”


Figure #12.10 John A. Cutter’s Article; “Consider writing about your Life’s Legacy.”

So I became immersed in this “Legacy” project gradually. It wasn’t a baptismal under fire. Organizing my files in little cabinets, my letters and writings, etc. It wouldn’t be for another 10 years starting in 1997 sitting down with my son and transcribing the notes into a typed format with our newly acquired personal computers (PC’s). However, let me transgress which is the first thing not to do but I will take a little editorial liberty. I’ll share a song that became near and dear to Thelma and me. We had a ritual of calling my daughter Bonnie, husband Lee and their two daughters Diana and Beth and all our relatives and friends up north when this song became popular it forged a special place in our hearts: “I just called to say I love you.”

I just called to say how much I care, I do              f12-11

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

No New Year’s Day to celebrate

No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away

No first of spring, no song to sing

In fact here’s just another ordinary day

No April rain, No flowers bloom

No wedding Saturday within the month of June

But what it is, is something true

Made up of these three words that I must say to you

I just called to say I love you

I just called to say how much I care

I just called to say I love you

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart                         f12-12

No summer’s high, No warm July

No harvest moon to light one tender August night

No autumn breeze, No falling leaves

Not even time for birds to fly to southern skies

No Libra sun, No Halloween

No giving thanks to all the Christmas joy you bring

But what it is, though old, so new

To fill your heart like no three words could ever do

I just called to say I love you

I just called to say how much I care,

I do I just called to say I love you

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart,

of my heart, of my heart.

I just called to say how much I care, I do

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

Figure #12.11 Words to “I Just Called to Say I Love You” Figure #12.12 My hand-written lyrics of the song

Some of the material was original such as my reminiscing on taking Billy to his initial baseball game and contemplating what has transpired all these years after that first indelibly marked outing.

Letter submitted to the St. Petersburg Times

Long Time Between Innings, Circa 1992

As we walked around to the Stadium I wonder to myself, when was the first game that he and I went too? He was six, active for his age, (today call it hypertensive). He was great to everybody, and everybody thought he was great. A real boy – my problem was that I was his parent, and it’s the parents job to keep striving to make him probably the best behaved. Well, he behaved alright to everybody, which prompted me to ask him “to please treat me like a stranger”.

We arrived at Ebbets field, located in a certain borough in a certain city, with the always the throaty crowds, and we proceeded to our seats on the third base line. Not being as knowledgeable as my Little Leaguer, how did I know that third base wasn’t the most desirable location? That little miscue caused me a most active afternoon. No sooner as were seated that my charge disappeared. Where do you start looking for the champ base stealer in the league, especially when he reaches only 4 feet high and streamlined to boot.


Figure #12.13 Ebbets Field that fateful day

I could have used the Mills Brothers taxi, as I started my way to make my way around the stadium, and looking up into the cheering faces above, everybody intent on the action on the field. As I walked and looked around Ebbets field I unbelievably heard my name called “hey Joe,” and I recognized friends I hadn’t seen in years – from the neighborhood, high school classmates and also one person I worked with. In a baseball field full of thousands of people, how could this possibly of happened. However, I had to continue on my main mission, which is to find my son. He wasn’t the type that would go to the authorities and report a lost father – so I continued my search which after my second circle around the stadium was successful.

He was in a row in the middle of the section behind first base, encircled by a group of adults, who are listening to the radio while the game was going on, my son was describing the play that was going on below, and is explaining what the announcer was saying – sort of an instant replay. I was glad to find him and I was happy to get our third base seats and enjoy the game.

Now that I remember the first game, my mind is hopscotching through the intervening years, to the last game we moved from Long Island, New York, to Washington DC, in a major career move. My son, now college-bound remained behind and the surroundings he grew up in; but the people who thought he was great, and who were happy to give him room and board. Usually children leave home to go to college – we left home some so he could go to college (and not to have to leave town). But he loved us, and after a short visit to Washington DC he decided he would openly” treat us like strangers”, so We gave him room and board, and he enrolled at the University of Maryland. We did our parental duty, and assisted through school. After he graduated, my wife and I decided to make a major life change and retired to Florida. He stayed behind in Maryland, with his many friends, who although they were not different from previous comrades, thought he was great.

Following a visit to us in Florida, he decided that this was a good a place as any to lay anchor, so he located a few miles from where we lived, got a job, with a sailboat and settled into the good Florida life. People thought he was great, and we do too, because he treated us “like strangers”.

Last week after 37 years so on his 45th birthday, I decided to take a chance and taken him to another ballgame the dream of all transplanted Floridians to see a yearly grapefruit league game. We packed a lunch including some peanuts (who had heard that they were now two dollars a bag) without reserve seats we went to see the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros. This time I got the seats right above first base, and I was the one who scooted around to third to see how things looked from my favorite baseline.

Since it was too sunny, I returned to where I sitting on the first base side, but not at the same gate as yours truly. Coming back, huffing and puffing, I realize you can’t wait 37 years to take your son to a ballgame. Thanks Florida, for making it possible, and making it a good all around the bases day; happy 45th birthday Bill.

Figure #12.14 Letter to the St. Petersburg Times “Long Time Between Innings”


So with Ruth Eckerd Hall behind me and plenty of time beside me I plunged into what could be called my Don Quixote attacking windmills phase. Whereby I would fire off letters on a regular basis trying to make a dent in the social issues of our time. On a not so serious note, I kept busy with keeping track of my fledgling investments system that was based on-no market plunging. And having the time to prepare my lifespan of innuendos, idiosyncrasies and nuances into an enlightened journey that spans the EPOCH of time.

And so concludes, Part one of Chapter 12; My Eighth Decade. The next installment deals with the myriad of projects; community work, building a Public Library in Palm Harbor and activities for Thelma and I at the Temple.

So many remembrances, highlights and philosophical deliberations to elaborate on. There was Thelma and my 50th Anniversary trip to our original honeymoon getaway in Miami Beach; a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise; party at the Hilton and some great family gatherings including my granddaughter Diana’s, Bat Mitzvah in Maryland when she turned 13. And of course correspondence and pronouncements with some very important people to divulge.


Copyright © 2016               William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.