The way Bill Wundram figures it, he must be in good stead with his maker.
Wundram, accompanied by his wife, Helen, made a surprise appearance Wednesday night during a Christmas party at the Outing Club in Davenport for volunteers and sponsors of the Quad-City Times Bix 7 and revealed to the crowd that he suffered a stroke Saturday.
Wearing a Santa hat, the newspaper's longtime columnist and associate editor was introduced by Bix 7 race director Ed Froehlich and handed a conductor’s baton. That was a reference to Bill's successful fundraising quest to lead the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra in the song “Sleigh Ride” at the Nov. 23 Holiday Pops concert.
“Last night at this time I was in the hospital,” Wundram said Wednesday night. “Well, I had a bad situation.
“I don’t want to bring up awful things like this, but last Saturday I had a stroke,” he continued to audible gasps from some audience members.
Wundram, always with a smile on his face, related how he could not speak for a time.
“All of a sudden, I was in the hospital, and, believe it or not, I couldn't talk. I thought that would always be a physical impossibility,” he said to laughs from the audience.
“I thought, 'Well, here is the final curtain. I’m going to turn up my toes.'
“But I don't know, it's a miracle. God must like me; I don’t know why,” he said, bringing applause.
Froehlich then led Wundram to conduct a group of singers in a version of “Mr. Sandman” with the words “Mr. Santa” substituted in the lyrics.
Wundram left the Outing Club ballroom to a standing ovation.
He is recuperating at his home and said Thursday that their Havanese dog, Molly, the subject of many columns and reader inquiries, will not leave his side.
Wundram said he’ll be taking a little time off from writing his column, but added that he has many ideas circulating through his mind.
He spoke of a visit by longtime friend Sister Ludmilla Benda while he was recovering at Genesis Medical Center-West Central Park Avenue, Davenport.
At the time she arrived, Wundram said, he was getting his hair groomed.
With a stern smile, she looked at him and said, “Is this a hospital or a salon?”
She then told him, “You have a real good guardian angel.”
Wundram said the appearance at the Bix 7 party energized him.
“Last night gave me a real charge,” he said. “I floated all the way home.”