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Woman who gives much now receives

By Staff | Aug 18, 2019

Deb Tolzmann is Wells’ honorary Grand Marshal of the 2019 Kernel Days parade. As she leads the floats and vehicles down Broadway Street, citizens of Wells may not know how much Tolzmann has given to her community. From plasma cells and extra hair she has donated three times, to her time and dedication to families and friends in need of help, Tolzmann has given her all to her community.

Deb Tolzmann is one of Wells’ more busy residents. Over her lifetime in Wells, Tolzmann has dedicated much of her spare time and efforts to her own community. From helping make a skate park become a reality to regularly donating her plasma and hair. Now, her beloved hometown community and local chamber of commerce has recognized her as the Wells Kernel Days Grand Marshal for 2019.

Tolzmann was born in the Wells area and was raised on her family dairy farm just outside of Wells. It was here that Tolzmann’s true character began to build. She says she and the rest of her family dedicated themselves to daily chores and helped each other maintain the farm and succeed.

She was a student at St. Casimir’s School and remembers when Wells celebrated their Centennial year. She remembers wearing a gown and bonnet for the celebration at the local Catholic-based school. She also remembers a number of Kernel Days that she celebrated as a kid, and many Kernel Days celebrations were savored as a member of the Wells Chamber board.

Tolzmann spent six years, three terms, as a member of the board and has a multitude of fond memories serving on that board.

“I just love Half Moon Park and seeing the softball tournaments and volleyball tournaments, all of the vendors and of course, the big fireworks display,” she says. “We also go through a lot of hot dogs when we serve the community, approximately 1,200 hot dogs. It really is a powerful thing to see when the entire community pulls together and makes Kernel Days what it is.”

And lending a hand is something Tolzmann knows very well.

As a member of One Healthy Community, Tolzmann worked with a team from Region 9 to receive a grant to improve the health of students in the area. She did this by helping get a skate park installed near Half Moon Park.

“I was a mentor with the group and that is where I really learned a lot about the kids in our area and what their needs and wants were,” she says. “And there was always a group of kids who would play on the cement outside of Wells Federal Bank (now CCF bank). Region 9 helped with half of the funds, and the community did the rest. When we work together, we can accomplish a lot.”

Tolzmann says she has also worked together with a number of students and families and smaller organizations to put on benefits for community members who are battling cancer, or have faced crisis.

“You don’t do these things by yourself,” she says. “You do it because other people need your help, and you do it because you have no reason not to like when I donate plasma, or donate my hair. I have no reason not to, those things can grow back and it can help someone who really needs it.”

And her greatest supporter, the person who has made sure Tolzmann has never done anything by herself, is her husband of 43 years, Randy.

Whatever Deb does to volunteer or help her community, it has been her husband who has not only encouraged her to help, but has put in his own efforts, as well. Their son Jake (wife, Sarah) and daughter Sarah (husband, Marc), as well as their five grandchildren Hayden, Jayden, Leigha, Emma and Jaylee have all played an instrumental roll in being Tolzmann’s biggest cheer leaders and supporters.

When she found out she was nominated as Wells’ Grand Marshal for the 2019 Kernel Days, she said she burst into tears.

“I could never have done any of what I do without him,” she says with tears in her eyes. “I could not have done it without my kids either, and the incredibly understanding staff at Wells Federal Bank and CCF. There are so many moving parts to any large-group event, and I simply could not have done anything without the people who have surrounded me with their help.”

Tolzmann says it is the network of people that make up the community of Wells that makes it stand out from other communities. The citizens of Wells seem to know when they need to rally together and get things done.

As a chamber board member, Tolzmann says she loved it, saying you do the best you can with what you have in order to keep the community alive.

“We have to jump in and do what is right for the majority,” she says, recalling her work on the chamber board. “We had lots of people call with complaints or issues, but if we really take time to understand the full spectrum of the moving parts that make things happen, it’s easy to see that we do so much for our community when we can work together. All it takes is someone to say something and we all get to it. It’s amazing.”

One of her favorite group benefits she worked on was working with a group of students to benefit one of their fellow students. It was all run by the students, with Deb’s help, and she says it was incredible to see the young hands in action.

“It was wonderful that the kids did it. You can do anything you want. It is such an amazing thing to see everyone come together.”

From time and hands-on work, right down to the platelets in her blood, Deb Tolzmann has given her all to her community.

“I want to save the world,” she laughs. “Whatever I can do to help, I’ll do it. I can’t imagine living anywhere else besides Wells. It’s home not just to me, but to so many of us. That’s why I help so much. We can never accomplish anything on our own.”

It’s plain to see why Tolzmann has been chosen as the 2019 Kernel Days Grand Marshal during their Sesquicentennial celebration.

“I don’t do any of this to get recognized,” she says. “I do it because it’s the right thing to do.”