The cousins: My mother was an only child. My father had an older brother, Emil Frei the third (Tom), and a younger sister, Mary Schickel. Between these three siblings, twenty adult cousins were produced. They now range in age from about 56 years old, up to about 73 years old, I being the third youngest, at 58.

Statistics might not be the most exciting branch of mathematics and coincidences are not an interesting subject at all, in my opinion. Because of this, I had never given the slightest thought about how the ‘twenty cousins’ were ever increasingly beating the odds… Until now.

A few days ago, the twenty, became nineteen, with the passing of Ben Schickel. Love and sympathy, from all, to all.

And, what is usually not interesting… He died from the disease, ALS.

About just five percent of ALS cases are caused by a known genetic defect, called SOD1. I tested negative for that genetic defect many years ago, during the beginning of Mary and my rodeo ride… Which puts the two of us in the coincidence category.  

Ben Schickel’s Obituary:

Benedict Francis Schickel Obituary

It’s impossible to get everyone together at the same time, so many of ‘the cousins’ are not in this photo. Also, the cousins are the older generation in this well over ten-year-old photo. Mary Moorman, sitting in the center, wearing pink and purple, is the fourth youngest.