Fred Wacha was determined to enjoy his 50th wedding anniversary with family this summer, and he lived long enough while suffering from liver and pancreatic cancer to do just that, said his wife, Pat.
"He told the doctor, 'keep me alive so I can celebrate,'" Pat Wacha said. "He knew his days were numbered."
Fred Wacha, 76, underwent cancer surgery in March, followed by about seven weeks of chemotherapy, Pat Wacha said.
He felt well enough for the Clarkson couple to travel to a hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, July 9 to be with family and friends, including their children and spouses - John and Monica Wacha of Richmond Hill, Ga., and their children, Jacob and Joseph; Theresa and Ben Gokey of Omaha; Jim and Kim Wacha of Lincoln and their children, Alex and Cody; and Annette Wacha of Buffalo, N.Y., Pat Wacha said. Jim and Kim's daughter, Heaven, of Conception Junction, Mo., could not make the party because of Missouri River flooding, but she visited her grandparents several days after the get-together.
Fred Wacha re-entered the hospital July 11 and died July 13, Pat Wacha, 80, said.
She said she felt blessed to have celebrated 50 years of marriage with her husband. Not many couples can say that, she said.
Their children stand as their legacy, she said.
"They all learned to work and not sit back and wait for handouts," she said.
Longtime members of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Clarkson, the Wachas' service has included active roles in the women's altar society and men's club, which help raise money for the parish. Fred Wacha also was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
A high school teacher, Fred Wacha over the years was on the rescue squad and a volunteer firefighter, city councilman, mayor and co-chairman of the community's Czech Festival. He rode horses and taught hunter-safety classes.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.