Stories from the Heartland
Every resident at a Hawkeye Care Center has a story to tell about his or her journey through life. The person they are today is an evolution of the people they’ve met, and the influences, actions, events, challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced throughout the decades. We are proud to be a part of every resident’s story. And support them in the next chapter of their life.
Tony has been a resident with Hawkeye’s Carroll Care Center since 2009. His heart is truly embedded in the land and the farm on which he helped cultivate an entire life of joyful memories. His farm named “The Home Place” is south of Dedham and has been in Tony’s family for more than a 100 years. Tony loves to tell stories of his six children and beloved wife Thema. From harvesting bails of alfalfa, corn and beans to digging up relics like a Tomahawk, an old whiskey barrel and more, Tony and his family continue to share priceless stories of love and their land. Farming 500 acres today, Tony’s grandson Derek is the 4th generation taking care of the Home Place and will one day hand it down to his young children. That puts a hundred-acre smile on Tony’s face!
Jim is a life long Iowa resident, residing in Central Iowa all his life. He self reported not ever venturing far from home. Jim has two daughters. One daughter, age 22, is graduating from Morningside college this weekend and wants to possibly focus on a career in Biology or rehab. Jim’s older daughter, age 40, has cerebral palsy. She also resides in Marshalltown and utilizes in home services for her daily care. Jim reported that he would like her to come here but she is somewhat resistant to change and socializing. Jim worked for Racom for 30 years as a network engineer. He described his career as being constantly changing and served a service area of multiple states. He said he would check with dispatch every day and that determined where he would be working for the day. He liked trouble-shooting and working on new projects every day. He embraced the challenge. Outside of Racom, he was also a wheat farmer for several years. He enjoyed this as well. Jim was formally an avid softball player and misses that.
“Love people for what they are, not for what you would want them to be!”
This is a life philosophy Issy Wittrock has lived by through all her ups and downs. And to the staff at Carroll, it’s why Issy is so special to be around. At age ten, Issy and her sister Lucille were placed in an orphanage until eight grade. While she described her young years as her “Lost Childhood” she didn’t let the adversity interfere with the rest of her rich and joyful life with husband Charles and their six children. Issy was a devoted homemaker and helped her husband tend to farm. She loved tending to a large garden and canned her harvest year after year; they even butchered their own meat. One of her greatest pleasures and talents was to sew all her family’s clothes along with crocheting afghans and quilts for loved ones. Her faith and optimistic attitude permeates into the lives she continues to touch every day.
Watching the picturesque sunset over farm fields every evening from his room at Hawkeye, Merlin relishes the fond memories of his own farming days. Throughout his 65 working years, Merlin had many interesting careers before retiring 21 years ago. He grew up in the Heartland, right in Dubuque on Middle Road and worked at Hendricks Feed Company, was a truck driver with Dubuque Co. Highway Department for 20 years – and even spent two years in the Army stationed in Japan. He married Marlene who actually lived right across the street from him. He was a loyal member of the Legion for 50 years and loved attending meetings and playing Euchre. One of his biggest feats was taking over his uncle’s farm and working through those colorful sunsets for 13 years. Today, he enjoys visits from his daughters and hearing heartfelt stories about his 11 grandchildren and five great grand children.
Marvin’s Heartland story is a meld of science, animals and sheer dedication. For 38 years, Marvin was a top Animal Nutritionist in Estherville working for Golden Sun Feeds. During his notorious time with the company he conducted numerous research studies involving cattle, hogs, sheep, laying hens and brood cows. Marvin oversaw several employees and was in charge of quality control for both the state and federal agencies. He often commuted between plants on a corporate aircraft and traveled extensively as a public speaker on the topic of animal science.
Marvin held membership in number of national associations such as The American Society of Animal Science, American Society of Poultry Science and many more. Today he reflects on his robust career and loves to walk through the dedicated Golden Sun room at the Estherville Museum. For Spirit Lake, Marvin is the one to turn to when it comes to the furry friends.
Dale might have been small for his age as a young boy, but he always had big plans for stardom. He left high school mid way through and purchased a railroad ticket to Chicago, his kind of town. There he joined the Royal American Show (circus/entertainment) in Chicago and stayed with the company from 1942-1967, working primarily as a singer and tap dancer, and entertaining the war troops. Dale traveled to 48 different states and a few places in Canada. His favorites were Washington and Oregon mostly because of their breathtaking scenery. As the war came to an end in 1967, so did Dale’s company. He returned to Marshalltown and worked with Montgomery Ward for 15 years. During this time in 1969, he married Mercedes who passed away in 1990. Dale has written a book about his life and his travels titled, “Amazing! Daring!” Ever since he became a resident of Hawkeye, Dale says he feels his “Amazing” self again thanks to the dedicated and loving staff of Marshalltown.
Born into a true Iowa farming family on 360 acres in Clinton, Agnes was milking cows before school at the age of six. While farming was in her father’s blood, Agnes preferred baking angel food cake and making sauerkraut. She stayed on the farm until the age of 23. In 1933, she married Lorentz after meeting him at a dance in the town square. Many of her Heartland memories revolve around her loving children, four sons and one daughter. They lived a simple yet joyful life. Today Agnes adores spending time with little ones, especially her 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her positive spirit is felt among the friends and staff she brings joy to at Spirit Lake.
While several other Heartland stories revolve around growing the harvest and breeding the stock, Niles spent his life providing fun, hospitality, great Iowa grown food and entertainment to all those hard working Heartland families. Niles is truly an entrepreneur at heart. He grew up in the family business and followed in his father’s footsteps. In the 80’s, he started the Covington Racquet Ball Club later known as 4 Seasons in Sioux City. Next was a hopping Pizza place named Covington Pizza, which housed a double water slide next to it. Niles also rolled into the skating business and owned a local rink as well as a Country Western Club. His popular Supper Club attracted both locals and big name visiting celebrities. Even though his entrepreneurial spirit demanded long days and nights, he did his best to support and be there for his family. Today he reflects on his past and wouldn’t have it any other way. He may still have another big venture up his sleeve.