The Harvest of Love
Gordon Grau loved the farm, from the time he was small. His mom, Karen, is convinced he learned to count before he was old enough for school by helping in the pig barn.
A member of the last graduating class of Newell Providence High School in 1989, he went on to Iowa State and graduated from there in 1993 with a degree in agriculture business. He continued to farm the land his parents bought back in 1969 but also worked full time at Farm Service Agency.
Along with being a farmer comes compassion to be a good neighbor and help out who you can, whenever you can.
Gordon passed away July 23 at the age of 41, leaving behind his wife, Shannon, three young children and his mom. There were also 91 acres of corn and 25 acres of beans that he intended to take out of the field come fall.
Gordon's cousin and good friend Gary Morenz along with another cousin Harlan Grau put the word out to neighbors that they were looking for help to bring in the crop. There was no need to ask twice.
"Gordon was a good guy," Gary said, explaining the response. "He was a member of the Farm Bureau Board and a member of the Newell-Fonda School Board and he was a lifetime ISU fan!"
The harvest bee, held Thursday, was a huge relief to Shannon and Karen who not only lost Gordon this year but also lost Karen's husband, Arnold, in January.
"They'd have done the same for us," said neighbor and volunteer Dale Schumann, who volunteered a semi for the corn to be dumped in and hauled to town. "Gordon was always there to help."
There were five combines, eight trucks, five tractors and wagons and three catch carts that showed up at the rural Newell field. All had given up time they could have spent in their own fields.
"It's no problem," said Russ Smith, about putting aside his own work.
The farmers were asked to be at the field to begin work at 9 a.m. - but a couple of them showed up earlier, so typical of a farmer, to get started.
"It was a wonderful day," said Harlan Grau. "This is a true definition of 'community.' We are so blessed to live on this part of the planet. And this community, there's no better place like it. We are given many gifts and one of them is being able to share with one another. That's important. We only have a short time to be here, a short time to be with each other."
This isn't the first time the community has gotten together to help out the Graus. A benefit was held for Gordon in September of '09, a few months after hearing he had cancer and such an outpouring of love was shared with the family at that time, too.
It was hoped that the treatments had wiped out the cancer but it returned with vengeance early this spring and could not be stopped. He was in and out of the hospital from May until July but he was determined to attend the BV County Fair; daughter Carli is a 4-H member. He was able to see her shine in the show ring; him being there meant so much to the family.
The farmers got started on their field work Thursday without a real game plan and it seemed to work itself out just fine. The 91 acres of corn was out of the three fields in three and a half hours.
The 25 acres of beans will be taken out of the field another day.
Shannon and Karen were right out there in the field watching as the work was being done, even taking their turns to ride in the combines.
Shannon, wanting a deeper scope of what was going on, climbed the family's 80-foot silo to snap photos. But there was another reason, too, that she wanted to sit atop the fields.
"I wanted to see what Gordon was seeing," she said. "I know 'he was looking down at all this. I just hope everyone knows how grateful and thankful we are. Only in a rural town would this happen."
And how would Gordon feel about all that his friends and neighbors did for Shannon and Karen?
"He would be amazed and so thankful that everyone came out to support and help Karen and me."
All of the volunteers were served a meal following the harvest with food that was donated by even more friends and neighbors.
Those helping were:
* Combines - Randy Edwards, Mark Tuttle, Steve Jorgenson, Doug White, Ryan Mandernach
* Trucks - Brice Edwards, Brice Widman, Dave Degner, Bill Baughman, Thorben Duitsman, Trent Sievers, Scott Tuttle, DFS
* Catch Wagons - Keith Grote, Kyle Horner, Cole Magnussen
* Tractor and wagons - Charlie Rasch (Mike Lenz), Jon Crilly, Norm Wolff, DaleChristiansen, Russell Smith
* Others helpers- Gary and Tricia Morenz, Harlan and Sharon Grau, ShelbeWadle, Dale and Jane Schumann, Kurt Wolff, Leroy and Roberta Morenz, Pam Wolff, Diane and Jenny Tuttle, Cindy Wells, Karla Vanderhoff, Jamie Sievers, John Morenz, Amanda Evans and Sherry Mandernach.