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Julius Jacob Stuck III died for the second time on November 8, 2014, in Winchester. He was 96 vibrant years old. He died for the first time when he was 93, while eating a plateful of venison at a hunting club dinner. After taking a bite, he stood and collapsed. Two club members, who happened to be EMTs, resuscitated him with a defibrillator.
A man who has had multiple deaths has had many lives. As Julius liked to point out, his began in 1918 - when most people were dying of influenza. And the lives that followed were big; he believed in adventure. When he was 17, he eloped with his wife, who was 21. Once he put his younger brother on the handlebars of a bicycle and attached it to the rear of a produce truck, which towed them from Boston to Rhode Island. He was 15, and his brother, hanging on, was seven. Julius didn’t share that memory with his children until they were safely into their thirties, and too old to follow the example.
During World War II, while serving in the 88th Infantry Division to liberate Europe, Julius competed for international track medals in his spare time. He always lived near water - built himself a pontoon boat, joined the local canoe club - yet never learned to swim.
Maybe most passionately, his lives revolved around narrow gauge railroad trains. Until his first death, he volunteered on the Waterville, Wascasset, and Farmington Railroad, driving up to Maine from Cape Cod to greet travelers in a station agent cap and uniform. On vacation, his wife and two children were forced to visit train lines across the country, and he kept a series of clocks in his house that chugged and hooted on the hour.
A career as a merchandiser in the greeting card industry allowed constant, enthusiastic communication with the world. Cards were sent to anyone on all known occasions, in unreadably small handwriting. Cards were also sent on occasions that did not exist. When one granddaughter hadn't produced a great-grand-child after her first year of marriage, she received a greeting card offering her husband instructions.
Though he loved his multitude of family - six grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren - and though he loved his many lives, Julius III did not like his name. In his late eighties, he changed it from Julius Jacob to Jules. Bucking the tide of heritage and expectation, he made a clear decision on behalf of his own namesake. “I was determined you wouldn’t be a VI,” he told the boy one morning, while shaving. His son is named Wayne.
Did you know Julius Stuck? Share your memories in the comments section.
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