The Fox Valley has lost a generation, its greatest generation.
Not five months after the passing of construction giant O.C. Boldt, we lose Dr. John Mielke, a retired cardiologist who gave us his heart.
Dr. Mielke died Wednesday morning. He once said he didn’t believe people should retire, but rather retire into something. The list of things he retired into is lengthy. Hospital wards, quality preschool, the Appleton Board of Education, the Appleton Education Foundation, the many students exposed to great thinkers at the annual Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College, Celebrating Volunteers, Lawrence University, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, the Building for Kids all benefited from his surgeon’s touch.
We won’t list all his involvements. We’ll just say he was everywhere. Every charity banquet. Every annual meeting. Every philanthropic event of any consequence, he was there, with his equal – his wife, Sally.
The Mielke Family Foundation, established by his parents and two aunts, will continue his work by awarding grants in education, health, children and youth, the arts and aging.
It’s hard to imagine a functioning, caring Fox Cities without Dr. Mielke.
It’s hard to imagine Sally’s loss, as it was for Pat Boldt. John and Sally Mielke were together everywhere. It was Sally’s job to say, “Now, John …” when his ideas stretched too far. But even a force like Sally couldn’t slow him down when he interlaced his fingers behind his head, leaned back in his chair and spoke of his dreams for the community.
That’s what was different about men like Dr. Mielke and O.C. Boldt. They believed they owed the community for their own success. Who will take their place? Who has the dedication, the resources, the judgement and the caring to walk behind them and take over the load?
We have to accept the conclusion they would have. They thought so highly of the Fox Cities as to believe the community spirit here would create new leaders able to take on new challenges and offer even more reasons to love living in the Fox Valley. We can at least follow them in that belief and watch the good things happen.