Herbert “Herb” Willi Schulze passed away surrounded by family May 12, 2019 in Rockford, Illinois. Herbert was born June 30, 1932 in Bodenteich, Germany to Willi Schulze and Gertrud Sperl Schulze. He grew up in Bodenteich, Germany, with older brother Joachim and younger brother Ulrich.
His childhood was centered around World War II, and because of that, he had many sad stories to tell. Many more of his stories would center on the mischief he and his friends got into. Stealing cigarettes from soldiers or stealing their baseball bat and ball only to return it because they were not quite sure what to do with it – soccer was much more their game. Their great smuggling feat may have been when they took loads of flares and left behind uniforms out of the abandoned ammunition building in the woods, only to be met by a truckload of American soldiers on the road – somewhere out there a soldier has a picture of a bunch of German boys carrying armloads of purloined goods.
Herbert began his prosthetics trade training in Germany, finishing school in Uelzen in 1950, and came to the United States on the Italia in 1952, sponsored by his new employer. On the journey from Hamburg, Germany to the port of New York, Herbert met Ottilie “Tilli” Horn, his future wife. After arriving in the United States, Herbert and Tilli parted ways, Tilli heading to Chicago, Illinois, and Herbert heading to Pennsylvania. He lived with a Menonite family and worked at Zielke Orthopedic Appliances. Herbert kept in contact with Tilli, writing letters back and forth and sharing photos taken on the ship journey.
After working in Pennsylvania, he headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a new job. He would visit Tilli in Chicago as often as he could. Eventually, he moved to Chicago for a job at Hanger Prosthetics Company. May 1, 1954 Tilli and Herbert married in Chicago at Bethlehem Evangelical Church, and soon after Herbert was drafted into the U.S. Army. Following basic training, he was stationed at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado. After he was discharged, he and Tilli headed back to Chicago where Tilli went back to her job at A.C. Nielsen Company.
Barbara was born in 1958, and the family moved to Rockford, IL in 1961. Herbert
and Lothar Grade started Northern Prosthetics and Orthopedic in Rockford the
same year in a small storefront. Tilli handled the financial books, and they
welcomed their son Erich in 1962. The family moved to Belvidere, Illinois in
1969. Northern Prosthetics moved to Charles Street in 1971, and the business
continued to grow. In June of 1992, Lothar retired and Herbert was sole
proprietor, and the company incorporated in 1999.
Herbert’s children remember their Papa’s car being full of prostheses for his patients and remember that he worked most nights and weekends on his business, always coming home to share dinner with his family before heading back to work. Many of his patients would only see him and refuse to see any other prosthetist, standing by his superior craftsmanship. In adulthood, son Erich followed in his Papa’s footsteps, and daughter Barbara also takes part in the family business.
Herbert and Tilli took their family on many adventures. Their trips back to Germany were always filled with a mixture of stress and absolutely unique experiences. Herbert loved taking trips, and especially loved traveling with Rolf Schneider, and was always planning his next trip to see his grandchildren or travel back to Germany to visit with family.
Grandchildren remember Opi’s bedtime stories, full of adventures – someone always had a revolver. When he shared his childhood memories at family gatherings, you would forget at times that he and his friends were running around during World War II. His mischievous side never left – he would many times start telling a story or joke and Omi would quickly hush him, and he’d finish the story in German instead of stopping all together. He was a fantastic Opi.
Herbert was quiet, but he was incredibly proud of his children and grandchildren, and loved Tilli very deeply. His biggest smiles were when his whole family was together.
Predeceased by his parents, wonderful wife Tilli, and son-in-law Craig Gorham.
Survived by brothers Joachim (Christa) Schulze and Ulrich (Karin) Schulze, children Barbara Gorham, Erich (Pam) Schulze, grandchildren Regina Gorham, Kirsten (Taylor) Gyorkos, Monika (Dan) Olmstead, and great-granddaughter Emma Gyorkos.
Funeral services will will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, May 18, 2019 at Anderson Funeral and Cremation Services, 218 W. Hurlbut Ave, Belvidere IL 61008 with Rev. Woody Knutson officiating. A visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m., on Friday, May 17, 2019 at the funeral home.
Memorials to the American Heart Association. To light a candle or share a condolence please visit www.AndersonFCS.com