Unsung heroes often turn away from limelight

She drove you to the hospital for a cancer treatment when the seven family members who have already helped couldn’t swing another escort. He towed your car out of a ditch at midnight and only charged $25 because he knew $175 was too much for your family’s budget to bear. And still another improved your golf swing along with your perspective on communicating with your parents.

They are the unsung heroes of our communities who every day show us through action how to be kind, to be giving and to be the change we want to see in the world.

This week the Argus staff was provided several wonderful suggestions on people to highlight in the newspaper for their generosity and contributions to the community. These are the stories that we know make readers sit a second longer and linger in the glow that exists when humankind has done a good thing. It’s the glow of gratitude that overwhelms a parent’s face when a stranger stops to help her stranded teenager whose been injured in a car accident. It’s the glow of honor reserved in our subconscious for those who dig a little deeper, share a little more and ask for nothing in return.

We know you like those stories. We very much like to write those stories. But, more often than you think, those individuals do not want this kind of attention. They don’t think their simple acts are noteworthy. They don’t want to discredit those that – they feel – have done more, and they certainly don’t want to draw attention to themselves. Almost always these are the people that say no to such an article.

If I let every single “no” be the definitive answer to publishing such stories, readers would never get to enjoy reading about their neighbor, their friend, their father or their mentor, who they know is just an outstanding human being.

These stories mean something to the people who suggest them, and I make every effort to see those recommendations to fruition. But sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. And some weeks many people say no.

It’s a tough quandary.

Some call him “Mr. Softball,” others “Connie.” Many more call him helpful, giving and kind.  ~ Emily Bialkowski
Some call him “Mr. Softball,” others “Connie.” Many more call him helpful, giving and kind.
~ Emily Bialkowski

This week I set out to write about Conrad “Connie” Tschumper, a former Houston business owner, volunteer and lover of the great game of softball. He’s about 70 years old and has touched many, many people over the years with his energy, dedication and kindness. This gentleman started a softball league in Houston in the ’80s and still actively plays in three, yes three, leagues.

Audrey Hegland, of Houston,  said to me, “He just loves the game, and I know he has forgotten far more than anyone will ever know about the sport. He told me he was so glad to see the youth coming out to play again. He thinks there’s far too many who sit behind a computer or play video games and don’t get the exercise or even the valuable life’s lessons that sports provide.”

It’s not just his participation and support of softball that makes people admire Connie.

Jean Kasten-Schmidt, a Houston Public Library volunteer, said, “He does a lot and doesn’t want to be recognized for that, I’m sure.”

She went on to describe how instrumental Connie was in the renovation of the library; how he volunteered to repaint the unattractive, used shelves the library was working with.

“He really went over and above the call of duty when it came to this renovation project,” Liz Gibson-Gasset, library director, said. “He was generous and good-natured to do it, and it really changed the color of the library and put the focus on the colorful books and movies we have. When we think of him, we think of that terrible green shelving and how he changed that for us,” Gibson-Gasset said.

Hegland continued, “He has gotten up in the middle of many a night to come to someone’s aid who was stuck in a ditch somewhere and is quick to help someone get into their car when they’ve locked themselves out. He’s never turned anyone away who needed help.”

What an awesome guy. There are more of them out there than will ever be highlighted in any newspaper.

If you know someone who digs a little deeper each day and makes the ups and downs of life a little more bearable, please tell them so. They might look at the ground and shuffle their feet, but it’s good to acknowledge the positive people in our world.


You can contact Emily
Bialkowski at [email protected]