Community Support Showered on Yorkville Farmer After Open Heart Surgery

If you live anywhere near Yorkville Illinois who do you call for an extra hand if your hay needs bailing, your field needs tilling, your electricity needs wiring?  Family, friends and neighbors in the farming community-turned-to-sprawling-suburb have been seeking Cliff Westphal’s services for years. He is the first to lend a hand at the truck pull, 4-H stand, blood bank, local church and Yellowstone Lane neighborhood get together.

My brother-in-law has spent his lifetime serving others from a boyhood working the farm in the family for 65 years to his four-year tour in the Coast Guard during the Vietnam War as a young man, to donating his time for 17 seasons as an assistant coach at Yorkville High School where he once wrestled as a Red Fox.

A small town, family man with a strong sense of loyalty to his country and his community, Cliff understands the complicity between the land and man and shares its abundance with all.

He treats YHS staff to a hotdog and hay rack ride every fall, brings Westphal corn to cabin folk in Northern Wisconsin, works the best car deal for his nephew and drives his pick up half way cross the continent to follow his niece’s college basketball team.  He runs a regular O’Hare airport shuttle for family and friends.  Then he spoils the travelers with gourmet meals from the finest fare Mother Earth has on offer.

As beloved Bumpa to seven grandkids, he celebrates every passage of their lives, helping one granddaughter parade pet pigs at the fair and watching his grandson make his first tackle.

Ever the big kid at heart, he still sleds in winter and rides water park slides in the summer.  The day after he retired as an electrician at Com Ed, he returned to farming; any energy to spare, he pours back to the community. There is nothing Cliff can’t fix, so we all felt shocked when his body broke down unexpectedly.

The day before his scheduled surgery to fix drippy sinuses, his family doctor discover his heart had a leaky faucet. So instead of a nose job, a cardiologist cracked open his sternum, borrowed a vein from his leg to bypass an artery, fined tuned the bicuspid valve and repaired the mitral valve, then wired him shut again. Twenty four hours later, he was sitting up in a chair, chatting about the latest Illini scores and asking « What’s for dinner? »

Oh sure, he’ll have to lay low a few weeks, but come spring planting season, he’ll be back on the tractor helping his brother in the fields on the Westphal Farm. This summer he’ll be driving the boat pulling the boat for gran kids on skis. And if all goes well, he’ll be flying abroad with his lovely wife,  my sister Sue, to « climb » mountains in Switzerland.

After all you can’t keep a good man down. As Yorkville knows, Cliff is its best.

Bon rétablissement et bisous de ta famille overseas!

Posted in inspiration.

37 Comments

  1. Amazing…I get this news via Switzerland…rather than the the local pipeline.
    Yes, Cliff is amazing ! Persons like him should be our hero’s, rather than the media/entertainment/sports personalities who get so much adoration.

    • You are absolutely right. We should be singing accolades to the Cliff & Sue’s of the world instead of some these other idiots that are on the front page everyday.

  2. Pat,
    Thanks for letting us know the news about Cliff via your blog so that we can get off the proper well wishes to him and Sue.

  3. All the best to Cliff for a speedy recovery…and to Sue for helping him along the way!

  4. So in the next blog post, will you talk about the community doing nice things for him? And best wishes to Cliff. This was a nice profile of a good guy who sounds like he could be my brother, Verne.

  5. Pat,
    I’m so happy to meet Cliff! You have shown us so clearly how truly wonderful he is. Sorry to hear of his medical issues,but I have no doubt he will rally. Sending him my best wishes for a speedy recovery. We need more people like Cliff in our world. God bless him!

    Kathy

  6. Pat,
    I’m so happy to meet Cliff! You have shown us so clearly how truly wonderful he is. Sorry to hear of his medical issues,but I have no doubt he will rally. Sending him my best wishes for a speedy recovery. We need more people like Cliff in our world. God bless him!

    Kathy

  7. Great Job Pat! You really hit it on, the head, that is sooo Cliff! We, here in Yorkville, will do our best to take good care of both Cliff & Sue! They truly are remarkable people!

    • This is one of those times that I wish that I lived closer. So glad that they have good friends like you to keep a watchful eye. You are much appreciated by both of them.

  8. Great Job Pat! You really hit it on, the head, that is sooo Cliff! We, here in Yorkville, will do our best to take good care of both Cliff & Sue! They truly are remarkable people!

  9. Sending Cliff my best wishes for a speedy recovery and praying for Sue that she hangs in there while caring for him. They are both very special people and I am so happy to have met them if only briefly.

  10. What a nice tribute to Cliff and Sue. I know this came as a shock to them, but as they have dealt with past obstacles, so they also met this one head-on with their faith, family and friends right alongside! The prayers of so many people have been flowing their way!

  11. What a nice tribute to Cliff and Sue. I know this came as a shock to them, but as they have dealt with past obstacles, so they also met this one head-on with their faith, family and friends right alongside! The prayers of so many people have been flowing their way!

  12. Hi Pat,

    I can appreciate the contributions of all farmers and hope your brother-in-law return to good health and to his craft soon!

    Best,
    Clara.

    • Oh yes, I am sure you, especially, can appreciate the love that goes into cultivating the land. Dedicated farmers keep food on the table for so many of us.

  13. Lovely story! Community is a wonderful thing and when you live most of your life in one place you reap the benefits of serving others and having the support of people who have known you forever.

    Although I love my wandering expat life, it means uprooting every few years and I don’t have the opportunity to build long-term relationships rooted in one place.

    Good health and good luck to your brother-in-law!

    • Thanks. I, too, have mover around a lot, although not as not as much as you. Family and a sense of community is what I miss most. Although I developed surrogate families and networks where ever I settled, I never felt that profound sense of home like the one I grew up in.

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