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Capital Region

Remembering the "Want Ad Digest" founder

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Albany/HV: Remembering the "Want Ad Digest" founder
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A life remembered through the want ads. Our Erin Vannella tells us about a family man whose digest guided the capital region through community sales.

TROY, N.Y. -- "He was a very giving man and a very loving man to me," said widower Rose Engelke.

Rose Engelke lost her 88-year-old husband, William, to illness Friday. Monday, the family collected their memories.

"I'll remember him most for his character and the moral compass that he set for myself and for everyone around him," said William's eldest son, Bob Engelke.

"We're all very proud to be his grandchildren," said William's granddaughter Vallis Goodermote. "He's a great person with a lot of integrity."

But his selflessness cut through family ties to embrace the community as well. His family says he saw a need to help and created a self-titled digest to do just that.

"We started it on the kitchen table and he went to work," said Rose Engelke. "And I took care of the phone at home in the kitchen."

The now popular "Want Ad Digest" was born. It became Engelke's hobby after working a full day at Allegheny Ludlum Steel in Watervliet.

"He never took anything from anyone and he was always a giving person," said Bob Engelke. "He always wanted to make sure he was taking care of other people."

Built on the honor system, the digest has survived 48 years, attracting tens of thousands of hits online and proving Engelke's ideal lives strong even after he's passed on.

"I get letters every day from people that he gave money to in the past that are still coming to look for a donation," said Bob Engelke. "I don't know that he turned anyone down."

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