CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Molle Jr.'s house looks like something from a different era, in much the same way that George Molle Jr. sounds like a man from a different era.
He flew bombers over Japan during World War II. He drove his sister to ballet practice. He went to work at the factory every day, the same factory where his father had worked. After his father died, he became live-in caretaker for his ailing mother. He was a quiet, private man and a lifelong bachelor.
All the while, the ever-busier, more commercialized modern world kept encroaching on Molle's small Kanawha City home at 4907 MacCorkle Ave.
On one side of Molle's two-story house is a United Bank. On the other is an apartment building.
Looking out from Molle's well-manicured front lawn, there is an Exxon-One Stop, a 7-Eleven, a Shell station, a cosmetic surgery office and a Sub Express.
There aren't a lot of other houses on the block. In fact, there are none. Molle's is the only single-family home remaining on MacCorkle Avenue in the 3-mile stretch between the 35th Street Bridge and the Yeager Bridge.
The homes have disappeared, replaced by gas stations, doctors' offices and fast food.
As everything changed around him, Molle remained in his childhood home. He lived peacefully there for 85 years . . . and he died violently there in early January.
'He can't help what his son does'
A mile from Molle's home is the Kanawha Mall.
But before the Kroger and the Gabriel Brothers, the Taco Bell and the China Buffet, the site of the Kanawha Mall was home to the world's largest plate-glass factory.
George Molle Jr. went down the road to work as a glasscutter at Libbey-Owens-Ford, every weekday for 40 years. Other than his time as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, it was the only job he ever had.
It was practically the only job his father ever had.
George Molle Sr. moved his family from Marietta, Ohio, to the little house in Kanawha City in 1927 to work at the glass company. George Jr. was 5 years old. Five years later, Molle's younger sister was born in the house. George Jr. would live in that house for the next 85 years, until he was murdered in his home earlier this month, allegedly by a man who had performed lawn care for Molle.
Dave Caldwell's company had been doing yard work for Molle for six or seven years, Molle's sister, Mary Lou Morrison, said.
"He was a very fine man and he thought so very much of my brother," Morrison said of Dave Caldwell. "He can't help what his son does."
Caldwell's son, Anthony David Caldwell, had been working for Molle for two or three years, Morrison said.
Police say that, on Friday, Jan. 3, Anthony Caldwell showed up at Molle's door and entered his house. A struggle ensued and Molle was found dead on the floor with a large amount of blood coming from his mouth, according to the police report. A bloody hammer was found in a Dumpster nearby. No motive was given, but a jar of change and a cigar box containing money reportedly were missing.
Police arrested Caldwell, who then confessed, four days later.
Molle would have been 91 on Jan. 13.
On that Friday night, Molle's neighbor, Larry McGinnis, was the first person to notice something was amiss, after Molle didn't turn his back-porch light on.
"He turned it on to let me know that he had made it through the day, and in the morning time, he would turn it off to let me know that he made it through the night, and that was just our way," said McGinnis, 71. "If he forgot to turn it on, I'd just call him and say, 'What's the problem,' and he'd say, 'I forgot,' or 'The light bulb burned out,' or something."
McGinnis's father worked with Molle at Libbey-Owens-Ford. He ran a saw, cutting the wood to make the boxes to ship the glass that Molle and others cut. McGinnis' grandfather worked at the plant, too, as a supervisor.
"I knew George, but I didn't know him," McGinnis said. "You just didn't see George out very much. He just kept to himself. He was a very nice person; he just never bothered anyone."
'He always said he had a good life'
Molle played the bell lyre (kind of like an upright metal xylophone) in the Charleston High School Marching Band. He graduated in 1941