Henry Getz and Ruth Unsicker

Tomorrow, May 30, 2923, would be Ruth and Henry’s 80th wedding anniversary. In honor of their anniversary I created the following 5″x7″ collage and posted what I know of their story to my family blog. If anyone has any info or pictures you’d like me to add to the article, please send them to me at mike [at] prestwood [dot] com.

Here is the story of Henry Getz and Ruth Unsicker, well, what little I know of their story at any rate. The story of their lives together is a tapestry woven from the threads of history and love, ordinary lives lived extraordinarily. Henry was born on a frigid February morning in 1920, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Getz in the idyllic town of Morton, Illinois. Ruth, on the other hand, entered the world on a winter’s day in 1923, the precious daughter of Daniel and Marie Unsicker in the neighboring town of Dunlap. Their paths crossed, and in the springtime of 1943, amid the shadows of World War II, they bound their lives together in matrimony in their shared hometown of Morton. Over the years, they raised five children, building a life imbued with love, challenges, victories, and joys. Henry passed away in 2017 at the age of 97, five years after Ruth’s departure from this world at the age of 88. Their shared journey spanned almost seven decades, marking a testament of enduring love and shared dreams. This is their story, a tale as timeless and universal as the love that defined their lives.

Henry Getz’s Childhood

Henry Altorfer Getz was born on the frosty morning of February 10, 1920, in Morton, Illinois, into a world caught between two great wars. His parents, Joseph and Elizabeth Getz, welcomed him with open arms, their firstborn son, a beacon of joy during uncertain times.

Henry grew up in Morton, a small, tight-knit community that bore witness to his first steps, his first words, his first dreams. Aged four, he was gifted with the unique responsibility of being a big brother, as the family welcomed another son, John J. Getz, on June 11, 1924. They were, in many ways, typical Midwestern boys, their lives a medley of small-town adventures, childhood mishaps, and the bonds of brotherhood. In the tapestry of Henry’s life, his bond with John was a golden thread.

Throughout his youth, Henry’s home was Morton. By 1930, as the country grappled with the Great Depression, the Getz household remained unbroken, anchored by a sense of unity and resilience. The world was changing, rapidly and unrelentingly, but for young Henry, Morton was a bastion of constancy.

A curious and driven young man, Henry pursued his education with the same zeal he approached life. He earned his stripes at the University of Illinois, graduating with a degree in Management. His academic journey was not merely a pursuit of knowledge, but a testament to his unwavering commitment to self-improvement and a brighter future.

And so, when he returned to Morton, a young graduate brimming with dreams and aspirations, he brought with him not just a degree but a vision. It was here, in his beloved hometown, that he was destined to cross paths with Ruth Mae Unsicker. It was here, in Morton, that his life would take its most significant turn, the day of their wedding, marking the dawn of an extraordinary chapter in the story of Henry Getz.

Ruth Unsicker’s Childhood

Ruth Mae Unsicker was born on a chilled winter day, December 1, 1923, in Dunlap, Illinois. The second daughter in a row for Daniel and Marie Unsicker after first having six boys. Ruth was their eighth child but the seventh to live beyond infancy after the heartbreaking loss of their second-born, Vernon at just under two months. Her birth brought a new spark of joy to the Unsicker family, more balm for the wounds that Vernon’s departure had left.

The Unsicker household was abuzz with the symphony of a large family of seven children at this point with five older brothers to watch over the two young girls. The laughter, tears, and whispers of siblings forming the soundtrack of Ruth’s childhood. She was a year old when her brother, Donald Lawrence, number 9, was born in nearby Tremont, adding another note to this melody. Ruth, still toddling around herself, now had a younger sibling to fuss over.

Glenn riding a goat, Dick holding a bucket.

As the years went by, the family moved to Hopedale, Illinois, a town brimming with familiar midwestern charm. It was here that Ruth celebrated her fourth birthday, and shortly after, her family expanded yet again with the birth of her brother Walter Christian, number 10. This pattern would repeat itself, with the birth of Richard Leroy, number 11, when Ruth was seven, and finally, Glenn Allen when she was nine, Glenn was the 12th and last sibling.

The Unsicker family, now complete, moved back to Tremont, Illinois. A lively household of eleven children, it was a place of boisterous joy, occasional sibling squabbles, and profound love. Ruth, the eldest daughter, found herself in the unique position of being both a big sister and a second mother to her younger siblings, a role she embraced with grace and patience.

Amid the bustling chaos of her large family, Ruth developed into a nurturing and caring woman, her character shaped by the joys and challenges that came with being part of such a big family. As she grew older, she remained rooted in Tremont, carrying with her the indelible lessons of her youth as she embarked on her own journey of love and life with Henry Getz. Their story began, as many great love stories do, in the place that shaped them, right in the heart of Illinois.

The Wedding of Ruth and Henry

Wedding photo, MP restored.

The day was May 30, 1943, a Sunday brimming with the promise of summer. In the enchanting garden of Marvin and Marjorie Moore’s home in Morton, Illinois, a love story was etched into the annals of time. Ruth Unsicker, the cherished daughter of Dan and Marie Unsicker of Mackinaw, and Henry Getz, the proud son of Joe and Elizabeth Getz of Morton, bound their lives together in matrimony.

Under the gentle afternoon sun, Reverend Leslie A. Crown officiated their vows. Ruth, the picture of a radiant bride, donned a gown as lovely as the woman herself. The bodice of white satin, trimmed with intricate seed pearl embroidery, gave way to a skirt of billowing tulle. Long, full sleeves echoed the tulle’s whisper-light grace, extending into a train that gently trailed behind her. Her veil, a masterpiece of fingertip length, was held in place by a coronet of tulle adorned with seed pearls. Clutched in her hands was a bouquet of white roses, symbolizing the pure, enduring love she held for Henry.

Standing by Ruth’s side as matron of honor was Marjorie Moore, her older sister. The soft pink satin bodice of her gown was juxtaposed with a frothy skirt of tulle, the hues mirroring the sweet warmth of the blossoming relationship she was there to witness. A veil of pink, cascading from a topknot of flowers, framed her glowing face, while a shower bouquet of spring blossoms in a medley of hues completed her ensemble. Her husband, Marvin Moore, stood as the best man, a fitting testament to the intertwined lives of the two families.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests retreated to the Moore’s home for a reception, a resplendent celebration of love and unity. As the clock struck three, the couple, surrounded by friends and family, celebrated their union until the late afternoon. A wedding trip to Wisconsin awaited the newlyweds, and for this, Ruth slipped into a smart-looking beige suit, contrasted by black accessories, and a corsage of white roses.

Ruth, a graduate of Mackinaw schools, and Henry, an alumnus of Morton schools and the University of Illinois, were both employed at the Caterpillar Tractor Company at the time of their marriage. They would return from their honeymoon to make their home at 114 South Sheridan road, their lives forever entwined as they began their journey as husband and wife. The story of Henry Getz and Ruth Unsicker was no longer two separate tales but a shared saga of love and life.

Post-Wedding Years: The Legacy of Ruth and Henry

Ruth and Henry Getz, after their enchanting garden wedding in 1943, settled in their quaint town of Morton, Illinois, a place they would call home for the rest of their lives. The echoes of their vows were soon joined by the patter of little feet and children’s laughter. They became the proud parents of five children – Jon E. Getz, Joe Getz, Marsha A. Getz, Peter Getz, and Jan Getz, who filled their home with love, joy, and occasional mischief.

The Getz family household was a place of togetherness and warmth, where every other year the family would congregate for grand reunions. Stories and memories were shared, laughter echoed through the halls, and family history was meticulously documented in booklets. Bound in different hues but always with a blue cover, these booklets came to be affectionately known as the “blue books.”

Lt. Ralph Unsicker
Lt. Ralph Unsicker

Life wasn’t always joyous, however. Tragedy struck in 1943 when Ruth’s brother, Ralph Edward Unsicker, lost his life in a plane crash during war training at Cherry Point, North Carolina. The incident, whether an unfortunate accident or an act of war, remained a mystery, casting a shadow on the family’s heart.

As the years passed, Ruth and Henry moved residences a few times within Morton, a testament to their deep-rooted love for their hometown. During this time, they also faced the loss of Ruth’s father, Daniel Leslie Unsicker, in 1951, and her mother, Marie Mathilda Suchert, in 1980.

Ruth lived a full and active life, devoting herself to public service and the arts. She served on various boards, including the Morton Zoning Board of Appeals, the Morton Library Board, and the Morton Community Foundation Board, and was also involved with the Peoria Civic Opera Company, local Girl Scouts, and local Republican organizations. Her crowning achievement was her instrumental role in the creation of the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center in Morton.

On June 28, 2012, Ruth passed away at home, leaving behind a legacy of love and community service. She was 88. She left behind her husband, Henry, their children, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and her siblings, Don, Walter, Richard, Glenn, and Marjorie Moore.

Five years later, on November 3, 2017, Henry joined Ruth. He left behind his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He had served as the President of Morton Buildings, Inc., leading the company from its inception until 2001.

A celebration of Henry’s life was held a few weeks after his passing. Friends and family gathered to remember and honor the man who had spent his entire life in Morton, building a family, a business, and a legacy that continues to live on. The love story of Ruth and Henry Getz, which began in a garden on a summer afternoon, remains etched in the hearts of their family and the history of Morton, a testament to a life well-lived and a love that endured.


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