Throughout their 56-year marriage, Omahans Timothy and Kathy Bilek had a system to handle their finances.

Kathy paid the household bills and took care of school costs. Her husband paid “the big stuff” like the mortgage and car notes and was responsible for charitable giving.

Timothy chose The World-Herald’s Goodfellows fund for his donations. It provides one-time assistance to locals who can’t meet their bills because of setbacks, and every dollar donated to the fund goes to the recipients. The World-Herald pays all administrative costs.

“He just said, ‘I think it’s a good idea, a good charity, and I want to support it,’ ” Kathy said.

Sunday marks the beginning of this year’s holiday campaign, which runs through Dec. 31. Last year, the holiday drive raised $703,183.

Timothy provided $101 of that. Like scores of other donors, he gave an unusual amount, perhaps so his gift would get its own line on the fundraising update that appears in the print newspaper and on Omaha.com each day during the campaign. Like many others, he wrote a dedication with his donation.

And, as is the case with many of the notes from donors, it was cryptic and personal, and the meaning will probably always remain a mystery.

Timothy died in September at age 79, and last week, Kathy said she had no idea what he meant when he wrote “From the Pick 6” when he gave to Goodfellows.

Over Goodfellows’ 100-plus years, World Herald readers have embraced both the charity and the sometimes funny, sometimes poignant and sometimes seemingly nonsensical dedications. Many are memorials to loved ones.

Reporters go through the lists each year looking for dedications that might make interesting stories during the drive.

Stories last year included:

  • A group of guys from Beth El Synagogue who play low-stakes poker each week and donate to charity. They gave Goodfellows $18 because in the Jewish faith, that’s the traditional figure given to worthy causes.
  • Omahan Mike Miller offered a tribute to his alma mater with his $1,000 gift: “From the Colorado Golden Buffaloes football team. Best wishes and see you next year.” It was a friendly jab at his friends after a tough loss for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
  • Former World-Herald paper boy Mike Ziskey gave in honor of his dad, who helped him and his siblings with the route and, if they were lucky, took them for doughnuts afterward.

Now the Bileks’ story is added to the mix. Timothy was a longtime Omaha electrician and electrical contractor. The couple grew up in South Omaha and met at a slumber party (the girl who hosted the gathering had an older brother, who brought some of his friends, including Timothy, that night.)

They had a son and two daughters and came up with ways to share the responsibilities that come with being married.

“He did his thing, and I did mine; that’s what worked for us,” Kathy said. “We had a good life.”

She plans to continue his legacy of giving to Goodfellows, though the note on her gift will probably be more transparent than his. She will dedicate the gift to her late husband.

Goodfellows, she said, “is the best outfit that actually uses all the donations to help the people. He never donated to anybody but you guys.”


Photos: The World-Herald's Goodfellows fund through the years

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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