Cecil Woodrow Geelhart passed away at his home in Enumclaw on February 12, 2008. He was born on June 20, 1914 in Cedar Falls, WA. Cecil was the only boy and eldest of six children born to Otto and Myrtle (Lear) Geelhart. As a young boy, the family moved to the old coal town of Bayne (outside of Enumclaw). At age 15, Cecil went to work as a section hand under his father, Otto, on the Milwaukee Railroad - a career that would span fifty years. His sister Betty believes Cecil was employed by the Milwaukee longer than any other employee in history.
Cecil married Tina Puttman in 1940 and they celebrated more than sixty years of marriage. Their boys remember living briefly in a railcar in Tacoma - sometimes inside when it was moved around the rail yard. Cecil and Tina later moved to the railroad town of Cedar Falls and welcomed an addition to the family, a daughter Janet. Cedar Falls was a row of houses and a little store with trains coming and going. Cecil and Tina enjoyed a close knit family of friends who took care of each other. It was an adventure for numerous nieces and nephews to spend part of their summers with the Geelharts. Cecil rose to the position of Road Master with the Milwaukee and was very well known in the railroad community over his fifty years and in to retirement. When Cedar Falls closed down, Cecil moved the family to North Bend where he resided until 2003. Cecil and Tina also purchased his mother's home in Enumclaw and they spent a great deal of time visiting relatives. In 2003, Cecil moved permanently to Enumclaw, sharing his home with daughter Janet.
Cecil spent his retirement years well. Both he and Tina took the train to visit their boys and family across country. They loved to take their camper and go to the ocean fishing - especially when son Jim would visit. He loved arts and crafts, making many an item for family and friends. He took part of his shop and made it in to a hobby train center .. numerous trains running through mountains and over bridges...reminiscent of his very full railroad life. Cecil commissioned a local artist to paint a scenic mural putting the final touch on his train center. Two years ago he invited family and friends to an open house to view and enjoy his trains and memorabilia. Cecil enjoyed playing cards with family and friends and could often be found transporting his sister-in-laws and good friends to family outings and functions. He became computer literate later in life and spent countless hours on the internet with railroad buddies and a myriad of friends he met through the years. Cecil kept up with the "railroad group" by attending a luncheon each month In Tacoma he was sure to be the oldest member. Last year, Cecil (a 1932 graduate of Enumclaw High) attended an all-year reunion and was featured in this paper as the oldest person attending. A highlight of his life was his coffee sessions first in North Bend and later in Enumclaw at Starbucks. He met a close knit group of friends at our Starbucks who embraced him in to the fold and again, was the oldest and probably the dearest member of their group. Cecil went on "Starbucks outings", attended Christmas parties and the recipient of birthday parties given by them.
Cecil was a man of few words...when he spoke, you listened. He was a jokester and had a sense of humor unparalleled. There are numerous stories of practical jokes... one relative from back East remembers Cecil visiting his cousin who was also in his "70's at the time and they continuously played jokes on each other.
"What does the missive above tell you? It tells you about the heart of this man. Tina was the love of his life and his family the most treasured...a private man who embraced his own spirituality...cherished his friends...shared a history full of railroad stories to anyone interested..enjoyed his hobbies..believed in everything positive..and smiled with a twinkle in his eye. He was an honest man who looked you straight in the eye and expected it in return. Almost 94 years of a life well spent..we, the family, will miss him.
Cecil's wife Tina and three sisters predeceased him. He is survived by sons James and Robert, daughter Janet, grandchildren Michael and Allison, five great-grandchildren, sisters Betty Shannon and Beverly Schweikl, sister-in-laws Rita Richter and Joan Richter, brother-in-laws Robert Schweikl and Jim Puttman and numerous nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name at the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation, PO Box 906, Enumclaw, WA 98022.