Faribault County has some outstanding seniors
Lloyd Koestler of Blue Earth likes to help out wherever and whenever he is needed.
That is a big reason why Koestler was named the recipient of the Faribault County 2019 Male Outstanding Senior Citizen Award at last month’s county fair.
“If someone expresses a need or something which needs to be done, his mind goes right to work figuring how he can help,” says his wife, Karen. “I have always admired that about him.”
Karen was one of two candidates for the female Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year, along with Deanne Wallace. Deanne’s husband, Lloyd, was also a candidate for the male award.
Koestler says he has always wanted to help others.
“I was helping my neighbors with farm work when I was 15-years old,” he says. “If somebody needed help I was happy to go and help.”
Koestler was born in 1940 on a farm three miles south of Guckeen. But when he was just 6-months old, the family moved to a farm six miles east of Blue Earth, near Frost.
He graduated from Frost High School in 1958 and went right to work, both on area farms and at local gas stations, including Wally’s 66, operated by Wally Belau.
In 1961 Lloyd and Karen were married, and it was soon after that Koestler left the gas station business and moved on.
“I started working for Green Giant in Blue Earth,” Koestler recalls. “I was a field mechanic and then the farm shop supervisor.”
The company rented land and did the farming and combined the peas and corn and had a lot of farm equipment. Koestler kept the equipment running and for 30 years he was managing the Farm/Ag Department.
He was also pursuing his hobby of restoring old tractors and other machinery items. He has restored at least five of his own tractors and still owns two of them.
“I retired from Green Giant, which had become Seneca, in 2000,” Koestler recalls. “And then I went to work for Blue Earth Monument for another eight years because they needed some help.”
But a year before he retired from Seneca (Green Giant), in 1999, he became a member of the board of the Faribault County Historical Society (FCHS).
So how did he happen to decide to get involved with the historical society?
Easy. Somebody said they needed help.
Connie Helgesen asked him if he could help out on the historical society, and he immediately replied ‘sure, why not?’
The historical society board members are all each in charge of at least one of the society’s many buildings the society owns, and Koestler has worked on quite a few.
But it was his other skill that became in high demand. He began to help restore old tractors and other equipment for the society, along with help from a couple other board members.
“We restored quite a few pieces that people would donate,” Koestler says. “I remember Vera Steinberg donated a 1929 International truck, that had belonged to her father. We did quite a bit of work on it, and it was very nice when we were done.”
Koestler says Steinberg was extremely delighted when she saw the finished truck.
“Her face was like that of a kid with a new toy,” he recalls. “Then she asked what it cost us to restore it, and we told her and she paid all the expenses. A lot of other folks have done that same thing.”
That is a good thing, Koestler says, because a lot of the society’s money goes towards building maintenance so there is not a lot left for equipment restoration.
A lot of Koestler’s (and others) efforts in restoring old equipment is available to see in the large machine shed at the fairgrounds. It was built right when Koestler first got on the FCHS board.
He has also helped on a lot of their FCHS projects, from building a closet in the Etta C. Ross building to helping with the FCHS Spring Omelet Brunch and the July Ice Cream Social.
He has taken care of the Blacksmith Shop and the Etta C. Ross building for many years. And, if the alarms go off on the buildings, he has to go investigate even if it is 2:30 in the morning.
He has also put in over 70 hours at every county fair over the last 20 years. He would open the buildings in the morning and close them down at night.
One of Koestler’s favorite accomplishments while a member of the FCHS is when the group moved the West Delavan Church from near Lura Lake to it’s current home on History Lane at the fairgrounds in 2004.
“We had to take the steeple off, and we were not sure it wouldn’t just fall apart,” Koestler says. “The bell had to come off, and then have it moved into Blue Earth. It was quite an operation.”
Lloyd and Karen spent the whole day on traffic control when the church was moved.
After it was in location on the fairgrounds, it was Koestler and Gordy Miller who went on the top of the church and guided the steeple into position.
“We had made a cover over the hole and had to take that off,” Koestler recalls. “If you looked down, it was a long ways to the bottom.”
Then they guided the steeple into position onto some new supports Koestler had built.
“It was really a big operation and it was a team effort,” both Karen and Lloyd say. “There were about 20 of us working on it.”
Karen has been a big part of the historical society, too.
“When a person is on the board, the spouse gets pretty involved as well,” Karen, who retired after working 30 years at the Blue Earth Area Schools, says. “I helped with a lot of the projects and other work that needed to be done.”
After the church was in place and all fixed up, they had a rededication service, with a pastor in charge of it.
“We consider it still a church,” Karen says. “It is not just a building. That is why we are so happy when a wedding is held there.”
The Koestlers are also active in their church, Immanuel Lutheran, six miles east of Blue Earth in Emerald Township. Lloyd has been a trustee at the church since 2003. And, of course, he saw a need there so he helped build a ramp into the church for folks who could not navigate steps.
“We started going to the church there because we lived right by it,” he says. “We lived on a farmstead there. We raised feeder pigs out there back when the kids were in school.”
They have two grown children son, Mike, and his fiance, Ione, who live in Farmington, and a daughter, Sharrin, her husband Greg and their two daughters, who live in Richfield.
Three years ago the couple moved into a home in Blue Earth after having lived on the farm place for 38 years.
Lloyd Koestler still is helping out whenever and wherever he is needed. Just ask anyone who knows him.
That includes A.B. Russ. Every year Koestler helps Russ with putting out all the flags and putting them away for Memorial Day.
Why? Because Russ told Koestler he needed some help, of course.
Faribault County has some outstanding seniors
It was less than a month ago when Deanne Wallace was honored at the Faribault County Fair as the Female Senior Citizen of the Year. Now, on Aug. 29, she will travel to St. Paul as a representative of Faribault County at the Minnesota State Fair in the Senior Citizen of the Year contest.
Both Deanne, and her husband Lloyd, had been nominated at the local level by their oldest daughter, Denise Schuster.
“I have some pretty awesome parents who do a lot for the community,” Schuster says. “I thought it would be neat for them to be recognized.”
In truth, Schuster says she was not even aware of the award but learned about it from some friends who felt her parents were deserving of the honor.
“My mom is an organizer, she is friendly and so good at bringing people together whether it is for a family function or a community get-together event,” Wallace adds.
Deanne Wallace was born Deanne Weise and grew up on a farm south of Delavan.
“I went to Delavan school except for three months in the sixth grade,” Wallace comments. “My parents moved during the school year and I attended a country school for three months.”
She learned there were some differences between the school in Delavan and the country school.
“I had to wear a dress when I went to the school in town,” she says. “But at the country school we could wear jeans and go outside and play ball.”
There was another thing which made the country school special.
“I believe it was the only country school in the area that had an indoor bathroom at the time,” she remarks.
Wallace did return to the school in town and graduated from Delavan High School in 1957.
“I went to what they called a commercial college in Mankato beginning in the fall of 1957,” Wallace says. “I took bookkeeping, typing and shorthand classes.”
In April of 1958, Lloyd was discharged from the Army and Deanne and Lloyd were married on August 2, 1958.
“I was a ‘Weise’ woman until I married a Wallace,” Deanne Wallace jokes.
With her education complete in Mankato, she went to work for Stokely-Van Kamp in Winnebago.
“I earned enough money to buy our first snowmobile, a Skiroule,” she comments.
Lloyd and Deanne’s first child, Denise, was born in 1959.
“I became a mom and a housewife,” she says.
Their second child, Melanie, was born in 1962, and their youngest child, Sheldon, was born in 1967.
“Denise is married to Mike Schuster and they live in Easton. She is a Registered Nurse who works in Mankato,” Wallace explains. “Melanie is married to Mike Staloch and they live in Columbia, Missouri, where Melanie currently does volunteer work for the Columbia Historical Society. Sheldon is single and on the road trucking but still calls Delavan home.”
It was in 1969 when Al Heppner, who owned the Delavan Farmers State Bank, approached Wallace and asked, “Do you think you could put away your sewing and come work at the bank?”
Wallace accepted the invitation and worked at the bank for 36 years before retiring in October of 2005.
“I did a little bit of everything,” Wallace explains. “I was a teller, a typist and could even make small loans. It did not take as much paper work back then.”
She worked at the bank long enough to witness some major changes.
“One of the biggest changes was when I had to learn to do things on a computer,” she says.
She may have retired but she did not slow down.
One look at the landscaping around the Wallace acreage west of Delavan and it is not hard to figure out how she stays busy.
“I love my flower gardens,” Wallace comments as she surveys the many different flower areas on their farm.
She is an active volunteer. She is the president of DHS Inc. in Delavan. Besides monthly meetings, she stays busy renting out rooms for different functions, including wedding receptions, Pheasants Forever banquets, the Deer Hunter’s Association, and Fireman’s suppers, just to name a few.
“We would like to see another community play in Delavan,” she states, “It is costly and a lot of work but it might happen again in the future.”
She also helps run the gift shop at the former school and is president of the Delavan Flower and Garden Club.
“It is a great way to learn from each other. We do garden tours and get a lot of enjoyment from sharing with each other,” she says, speaking about the garden club.
She once had the opportunity to combine her love of volunteering with her love of gardening.
“There was a lady who lived in a town who had to enter a care facility,” Wallace explains. “I was able to go to her former residence and tend to her flower garden and she was able to take trips from the care facility and see her flower garden had been taken care of. It meant a lot to me because I know it meant so much to her.”
Like many retired people, Wallace feels as though she does not have enough time to get everything done.
As her husband Lloyd jokes, “I can wake up with nothing to do and get only half of it done.”
Though she stays busy, she always has time for her family.
“We have been blessed with four grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and two great grandchildren,” Wallace says.
Lloyd and Deanne do not travel south for the winter but they usually make a trip to visit Melanie’s family in Missouri.
Perhaps growing up in a small rural community outside the city of Delavan helped shape the friendly, get-to-know-you attitude Wallace possesses.
“If you want to live in a town or rural community, get out and get to know your neighbor,” Wallace says.