Numerous friends and local dignitaries turned out to salute Manuel "Dutch" Hallier Friday at The Windsor of Cape Coral. That included Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan, former mayor Eric Feichthaler and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, who made Hallier an honorary detective.
Hallier also was surrounded by numerous friends, including those from the Cape Coral German-American Club where he has been a member for 37 years.
"He's wonderful," said friend Valentina Hursley. "I lived in Austria many years ago and was beginning to forget German. When I met him, he said a few words in German, and I was delighted."
"I've known Dutch for eight or nine years through the German-American Club," said Scott. "He has a very interesting personality to say the least. I admire his energy and, at his age, he is still so alert, sharp as a tack."
Hallier is 98.
Hallier's close friend Dick Kalfus arranged and emceed the event.
"Dutch is the most extraordinary individual I have ever met in my life," Kalfus said. "He's the most giving, most caring and simply the most terrific guy anyone would ever know. I've known him for over 20 years."
He is not the only one who sung Hallier's praises.
"I've known Dutch many years," said Harold Popp, who is the pastor for the club. "He's an American of German decent from Pennsylvania. His parents moved here prior to WWI. He's a good man, honest, dedicated, and raised a good family. He also supported a lot of needy families. He is a very independent person, with an independent mind who has done a lot of good."
Kalfus noted Hallier's work with the German-American Club and specifically the Oktoberfest event. That has been one of his favorite things, Hallier said.
"Klaus Kohl was the father of Oktoberfest," he said. "I've been here 44 years - four as vacation - and I have worked the Oktoberfest almost every year. I only missed it two years. "
He talked about his career as an automotive executive. "I worked for Ford Motor Company at different branches around the country."
He was a production control supervisor, and said he loved his work.
He was devoted to his late wife Doris and married 70 years. For 62 years, he has been a Blue Lodge Mason and also a Shriner of the 32nd Degree.
"During a recent conversation with Dutch, he expressed his admiration for Sheriff Mike Scott and asked me if I could get him a signed picture of the sheriff," said Kalfus. "I called the sheriff, asked for the picture and the sheriff said "for Dutch Hallier I'll deliver it personally."
That got the ball rolling for the big event, held in a packed common room.
Of all the admiration and praise, Hallier said modestly, "I didn't think I'd get this much attention!"