Friday, October 22, 2010

On the passing of Cyril Allgeier

Wednesday afternoon my plan was to go home and take a nap after work - I've been keeping early morning and late evening hours as this year's campaign season is progressing ever more closely to 6:00 pm on Tuesday evening, November 2nd, the hour the polls close and the counting commences here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

On my way home, I stopped at the John Yarmuth for Congress headquarters at 600 E. Main Street in downtown Louisville, about three blocks from my home. There my plans for a quiet evening were changed as I agreed to accompany Elizabeth Sawyer, the campaign's chair, to two events on the evening schedule. In between I had her join me at one which wasn't on the schedule, held for Adam Edelen, a friend of many years who next year is seeking to succeed Crit Luallen as Kentucky's Auditor of Public Accounts.

We left from there and headed out towards Buechel and the American Legion Post on Bardstown Road where Congressman Yarmuth was hosting a Question-and-Answer session for Louisville's veterans. Along the way we got into a discussion about friends old and young. I made the comment to her that as I started attending political events at a very young age - usually in the tow of my late grandmother, Tommie Hockensmith - there are a number of people I've known all my life who are no longer of this world. One of the blessings I often count is that as those older friends pass on, I have managed to befriend a number of younger ones. Many of my latest political friends were born either in the late 1970s or somewhere in the 1980s. It is a little startling to think that kids born as late as November 2, 1992 are eligible to vote in this year's elections in eleven days. Within the Yarmuth campaign community, three different staffers have had or are having birthdays during the election season, and to my knowledge only one of those will have attained the ripe old age of 30. Elizabeth herself is 28 with a birthday due shortly after the election.

Having said all this to Elizabeth as we were driving out Newburg Road, I took the time out to call Mary Allgeier, who with her husband Cyril and their family, have been a part of my life since before I was old enough to drive. Cyril had been suffering from leukemia and its complications for many months and we all knew he wasn't long for this world. Mary and I had a short conversation and she and Cyril remained on my mind throughout the evening.

Very early the next morning, I received word that Cyril had died shortly after midnight. Word of his death travelled through Camp Taylor in minutes. Anyone and everyone who lives in Camp Taylor has had their lives touched by the Allgeier family in one way or another. Indeed, the family itself is one of the largest in this south central Louisville neighborhood, nestled between the Norfolk-Southern Railroad, Illinois Avenue, Audubon Park, and the Watterson Expressway. I've known of the Allgeier family since I was a student at Prestonia Elementary in the early 1970s. I graduated from Durrett High School with Tim, who is four days older than me, as well as his cousin Michelle, at whose home I spent many afternoons playing pool in the garage. There are very few streets in Camp Taylor, if any, that aren't populated by at least one Allgeier family.

In 1975, Cyril ran for office the first time in a group of nine or ten candidates seeking election to the old City of Louisville's Fourth Ward. He ran again in 1977, the year I became more involved, an election which also involved the election of Bill Stansbury as Mayor of Louisville. Mayor Stansbury died, tragically, when I was 24 but I considered him a friend despite the well-known errors of his administration. In the 1977 Fourth Ward Aldermanic Primary, Stansbury and Allgeier had a headquarters operation in the old Beasley [I think that was the name] Hardware, on the southwest corner of Indiana and Sherman avenues. We painted it, fixed it up, and put an orange, red, and white sign on the front announcing it to the voters in Camp Taylor. I was 16 at the time.

Mayor Stansbury went on to win that race but Cyril didn't. He sat out the 1979 race and returned as a candidate in 1981. Cyril's early races were ran by Jim Reddington and Don Noble, the former being the father of my friend Greg Reddington; the latter a former Fourth Ward Alderman himself, as well as my uncle, my father's older brother. Both are now deceased. Jim involved Greg and Don involved me in great measures in that campaign. Greg and I had worked together two years earlier in the unsuccessful campaign of Thelma Stovall for governor of Kentucky. (I also met Harry Johnson in that 1979 race and we, too, remain both active in politics and personal friends). Oddly, Greg and I will this afternoon, 31 years later, be walking a precinct together with Darryl Owens and Greg Fischer.

In my career of many, many political races over time, four have stood out. This election, the 1981 Primary, which was tantamount to election, is the first of those four chronologically. We worked very hard and very creatively to come up with an electoral margin of victory which remained in doubt until the votes were counted. The night before the election, in a somewhat drunken state, I predicted we would win by 37 votes. My Uncle Don said 100, Greg had said 99, and Cyril said 101. Even after the polls had closed and the counting was underway, there was some question as to who won the race and therein is one of the great, funny (and importantly true) political stories of all time. I won't tell it here but I will say it involved me, Greg, Charlie Schnell, and Mark Vincent, the latter whose only true involvement in the campaign was in the events of this particular story. When the Allgeier campaign group victoriously arrived at Executive Inn West where the Democrats were celebrating that night, WHAS-11 was reporting that we had lost and the our opponent has won re-nomination and thus the election. They had based their prediction on reports received, second hand, from someone within our opponent's camp. That person had (thought he had) gotten them from someone with the Courier-Journal named Mark Vincent. For the record, Mark was a friend of mine as well as a C-J delivery boy. Other than that, he was not invovled. In the end when all the votes were counted, Cyril Allgeier had defeated Mary Margaret Mulvihill, the incumbent, by thirty-seven votes. It was a thrilling and stunning victory.

Cyril stood for re-election nine more times, victorious in each one. His last election was at the creation of the present Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government to the office of 10th District Councilman. He did not seek reelection in 2004. Thus Cyril served from January 2, 1982 to January 3, 2005. There isn't enough space here, nor enough memory in my head, to cover all the ups and downs of his political career. I argued with him over a few votes here and there, most especially the Fairness Ordinance, which I strongly supported and he strongly opposed. For many years he cast "no" votes on the matter but before his retirement changed his mind and ultimately voted "yes" to pass it in the new government. I also disagreed with him on the expansion at Standiford Field, an expansion which included the blighting of several Louisville and Jefferson County neighborhoods; an expansion which began in 1986 and is still growing. Cyril supported it because of its jobs component and I cannot argue with that point. I opposed it due to the forced relocation of nearly 1/8 of Jefferson County's population, some out of homes that had been in families for generations. While there is no doubt the expansion has been an economic boon for Louisville, I still have my doubts due to the cultural ramifications. But, I greatly digress.

Outside of politics, Cyril's life centered around two things - church and baseball. He was a lifelong member of Holy Family Catholic Church, a church I was a member of for many years. Cyril's life included for many years, prior to his illness, attendance at Daily Mass and service to the church in many and any imaginable ways. But he is mostly known as "Coach" of every sport played by Holy Family School. Several generations of students got their athletic coaching from Cyril Allgeier. Cyril was also active in the local and national amateur baseball community. Along with several others, including former alderman Bertrand Heuser and Jim Lenihan, he formed Derby City Baseball, Louisville's affiliation with the National Amateur Baseball Federation, an organization which, coincidentally, was formed at Shawnee Park early in the 20th century. Cyril not only ran the league but coached its star team, called, appropriately, the Stars, long sponsored by Louisville Star Drywall. His teams scored several NABF World Championships over the years and he remains one of the winningest coaches associated with the league.

Suffice it to say between church, politics, baseball, and family, Cyril lived a life well-lived. Two verses from Scripture come to mid as I reflect on this life. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew 25:23, in the Parable of the Talents are the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Elsewhere, in the New Testament, at II Timothy 4:6-8, Saint Paul, at the hour of his death, proclaims "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." So, too, has Cyril Allgeier.

Rest In Peace, Cyril. See you in the movies. Motion to adjourn.

From the Courier-Journal obituary:

ALLGEIER, CYRIL L. SR., 74, of Louisville, passed away Thursday, October 21, 2010 at his residence.

He was retired from General Electric, a life member of Holy Family Church, a life member of St. John Sick Benevolent Society, a member of the Louisville Board of Aldermen 1982-2002 and retired from the Louisville Metro Council in 2004. He was a board member of All Wool and A Yard Wide Democrat Club. He also coached all sports at Holy Family School and was president and founder of Derby City Baseball and was a member of the National Amateur Baseball Federation where he coached four national championship teams. He was also a veteran of the Air National Guard.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Nicholas B. and Catherine Snyder Allgeier; a brother, Anthony R. Allgeier and sisters, Imelda Garrett, Doris Dahl and Carolyn Benton.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Hulsman Allgeier; children, Cyril L. II (Marisol), David G. (Karen), Tim P. (Kelli Husband), Kenneth J. Sr. (Lana), Anna C. and Kevin J. Allgeier; brothers, Nicholas B., Louis B. and Henry F. Allgeier; sisters, Thelma Garrett, Catherine Thompson, Jo Ann Hayden and Lois Bryant; grandchildren, Cyril III, Bryan, David Jr., Aaron, Tara, Kenny Jr., Joey, Mallory, Macy, Zachary, Sharai (Jesse) and Doren; as well as his great-grandchildren, Jace and Rylan.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday, October 25, 2010 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 3926 Poplar Level Road, with burial in St. Michael Cemetery. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Saturday and 2-8 p.m. Sunday at Ratterman & Sons Funeral Home, 3800 Bardstown Road.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Family Church or School or the charity of your choice.

1 comment:

Paul Hosse said...

I remember him well. He was a great guy.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.