Immigrant, veteran, widower finds comfort in Bald Eagles

Ben Patz, of Montoursville, spends a large portion of his days watching a family of Bald Eagles who have set up their nest in front of his house.

It’s a small comfort for Patz, who lost his wife of 58 years in September last year.

But this is simply the last in a long line of trials for Patz, who was born into a German community in West Prussia, Poland. When the German army invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 and Patz, one of seven siblings, remembers his father, a German citizen, taken by the Polish army to be killed.

After forcing the men to walk roughly 70 miles the Polish soldiers intended to kill all the men with gas. But they ultimately were released as the German army advanced too quickly. Patz’s father returned just in time for this daughter to be born.

As the war raged on, the Patz family heard few details. In 1945, Patz and his family were forced to flee Poland as the Russian Army gained ground against Germany. They traveled to West Germany where they lived until Patz was 21.

In 1955, he immigrated to the United States in search of better job opportunities. But after just 11 months, before he was naturalized, Patz was drafted and sent to Korea. Upon his return, he met Evelyn and the two were married a year later. They spent most of their married life in the home they built on Warrensville Road.

Patz noticed the Bald Eagle nest shortly after her passing, and has become an amateur bird-watcher, filling his time by tracking the age of the eaglets and the patterns of the parents. It’s a small comfort for a man who has experienced more than most do in a lifetime.

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