A longtime member of the German American Social Club of Cape Coral, who helped organize and launch the first Oktoberfest, passed away last week after suffering a recent stroke.
Manuel J. "Dutch" Hallier, 99, died Thursday, Feb. 6. He was born June 12, 1914.
"The thing that sticks in my mind about my dad was he really loved Florida and the beautiful sunshine," his son Robert Hallier said Tuesday. "He actually grew some orange trees in his yard."
Manuel J. “Dutch” Hallier
Hallier retired to the Cape in the early 1960s with his wife, Doris.
"He had to leave Ohio because he got pneumonia," Robert Hallier said.
In their retirement, the couple joined the German American Social Club. Hallier served as first vice president for three terms and second vice president for one term and was an active board member.
"It was a kind of service project for them, but it was good friendships, too," he said.
Hallier also volunteered at the local library, alongside his wife.
While a member of the German American Social Club, Hallier helped to set up the first annual Oktoberfest held in 1986. The event spanned three days before expanding to two weekends in 1991.
"He has a lot of merits because he was very instrumental," Hubert Prem, the club's president, said Tuesday. "I would call him not only a member - he was a good friend of the club."
Prem first met and played alongside Hallier in the club's band, Hafenkapelle.
"We are very proud to have had a member like Dutch Hallier for a long time," he said, adding that Hallier was a "very instrumental member in his active years."
Robert Hallier explained that his father enjoyed fishing, gardening and collecting coins.
"If it was a choice between going fishing and collecting coins, it was going fishing," he said.
Raising his family first in New Jersey before relocating to Ohio, Hallier and his sons would fish for flounder, which Hallier referred to as "doormats." In Florida, he was known to take to the gulf.
"My dad loved to fish when he was younger," he said. "He enjoyed that quite a bit."
"He loved the outdoors," Robert Hallier said. "He enjoyed planting things and making them grow."
The Deborah Heart and Lung Center in New Jersey also played a role in his parents' lives. He explained that they were involved with the facility and would direct people in need of assistance to it.
"They took a lot of pride out of getting people medical treatment," Robert Hallier said.
Hallier worked for the Ford Motor Company for about 40 years, later following the job to Ohio.
"He was an extremely dedicated Ford employee," he said, adding that his father always had a hat hanging in his home with the Ford emblem and that he talked to people about buying a Ford.
"He actually met Henry Ford, Edsel Ford and Henry Ford II," Robert Hallier said. "He shook hands with them when they were doing the factory tours."
Ford even applauded Hallier for being a reliable, conscientious and trusted employee who contributed to the company's success. On his 99th birthday, he received a letter from Ford's president, thanking him for his service and saying "thanks to you we're here today and continuing to stand on your shoulders."
Hallier was also a Blue Lodge Mason and an Araba Shriner of the 32nd degree.
"He was very active in the community in a number of organizations," Dick Kalfus, a friend of Hallier for 30 years, said Tuesday. "He was heavily involved with the Shiners children's hospital."
Also members of the German American Social Club, Kalfus and his wife met Hallier and Doris through the organization, and the two couples were also members of a local cruise club.
"We cruised regularly together," he said.
"He was just a good and giving, wonderful person," Kalfus said of Hallier.
Once, Hallier was told about a local boy who was dying of cancer.
"Dutch immediately reached for his checkbook to try and help with some of his expenses," he said.
At 98, he gave a sizable donation to his church, Kalfus said.
For the last two years, Hallier has resided at The Windsor of Cape Coral.
He added that the residents and staff at the Windsor are devastated by Hallier's passing.
Doris passed away June 9, 2005. She and Hallier were married for 70 years.
The last years of her life were spent in an assisted living facility dealing with Alzheimer's.
"He went, for seven years, every day to see her," Kalfus said. "That highlights the kind of person that Dutch was."
In 2012, Hallier was recognized for his contributions to the local community as he was presented proclamations by the mayor and the Lee County Commission and made an honorary officer by the Lee County sheriff. Other local and state officials, including Florida's governor, also voiced their praise.
"His passing represents a great loss. His whole desire in life was to help to make a better community for the people he cared about and the people he didn't even know," Kalfus said.
"I'm 78 years old. In my 78 years, I've known hundreds, thousands of distinguished people," he added. "I've never met anybody who's come anywhere near Dutch Hallier as far as good, kind and giving."
Hallier is survived by his sons, Manuel A. Hallier and Robert Hallier, and their wives; six grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Feb. 22, at Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery, at 1630 SW Pine Island Road. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christ Lutheran Church, 2911 S. Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33904; (239) 542-2709.