Edwin J Woehl store, Illinois Woehl family photo
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Edwin J Woehl store, Illinois

A photo of Edwin J Woehl's store, taken by Edwin Woehl. 1950s or 1960s...

About Edwin J Woehl

Edwin John Woehl was born February 4, 1919 at Colome, South Dakota to John and Mary (Bohnet) Woehl and he died July 9, 2005 at the Gregory Healthcare Center in Gregory, South Dakota at the age of 86 years, 5 months and 5 days. In 1920, Edwins parents moved the family to a farm south of Burke, South Dakota, where he was raised. He attended country school through the eighth grade. He enrolled in Burke High School for one year and decided, This is not for me. He showed at an early age interest in inventing things, being referred to by his teacher, Mrs. Cass Graham as My little Edison. She could see that sitting quietly at a desk doing lessons wasnt Eds thing, which made it tough keeping order in a one room school house. Yet, give him a scrap of wood, some rusty nuts, and some bolts and there was no telling what his inventive hands might produce. Ed joined the CCC in Blue Bell, South Dakota on October 20, 1937 as a sawmill operator, and he was discharged on March 31, 1939. On July 26, 1940 he enlisted in the military and was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he taught classes in photography at an army base. He spent three years in Alaska and from there he was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He was one of the escorts for President Franklin D. Roosevelts funeral. From Georgia, he was honorably discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin on August 25, 1945. After VJ Day, Edwin headed for Chicago, which was his home until May 25, 2002. He opened a camera store in 1951, which developed into more than just a camera store. Word of mouth of his stores rather eccentric collection reached national boundaries. He discovered that the cities basements and attics were a treasure trove for older equipment. Some of the old cameras might have been banged up or allowed to rust, but given Eds magic hands, it was a snap for him to put them back in working order. His knack, he noted, is a family inheritance. Sometimes he would find himself with a camera that was beyond restoration, even though some parts were still usable. So he would experiment with mating, taking a lens from one camera and a shutter from a second, and splicing the parts together, then splicing those parts to a film transport from yet another camera. He got so good at his craft that he could take many pieces of several camera lenses and assemble them into a fish-eye, or a wide angle lens, a task usually preformed by computers and hi-tech optical equipment. In all, he built nine cameras. He had a man come into his store one day who was from Germany. Ed asked him how he had heard about his store and he said some guy in Berlin told him about it. Ed was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and two sisters. Ed is survived by his sisters: Esther Biggins of Gregory, SD: Elsie Rauscher of Sacramento, CA; Edna Woehl of Gregory, SD; Martha Elwart and Mary Ellen Schad, both of Chicago, IL; and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 11:00 AM at Grace Lutheran Church in Burke, SD. Burial will be in the Graceland Cemetery, Burke. Visitation will be Tuesday from 4 to 8 PM at Clausen Funeral Home in Burke and prior to the services on Wednesday at the Church. ...more info

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Photo taken at Chicago, Cook County, IL
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