Merlin Earl Wollesen, 86, of Lake View, passed away on March 5, 2017, at Loring Hospital in Sac City.
Merlin was born May 29, 1930, in Lake View, the son of Carl and Eleanor (Mauer) Wollesen. He was baptized and confirmed at Wall Lake Lutheran Church. Merlin attended grade school and high school in Lake View and graduated with the class of 1949. After graduation he worked for Lake View Lumber Company.
On Sept. 3, 1950, Merlin married Darlene Mohr from Auburn whom he met in high school. They have been married 66 years and were married in the Lutheran Church in Ulmer. At the beginning of their marriage, they lived by the lake for a few months, but later moved to Darlene’s mother’s farm by Auburn and raised Black Angus cattle. After a year, Merlin’s father passed away and they moved to a trailer home west of Lake View to help his mother with farming. They moved across the highway to live for several years while their children were growing up. After his mother’s passing, he and Darlene moved to the present location. With Darlene’s helping care for nearly 20 years following a stroke, he was able to stay in his home. The past two years he lived at Twilight Acres Nursing Home.
Besides his family, he loved farming with all his heart. You know the saying, “Once a farmer always a farmer.” After retirement, Darlene would take him to watch the guy’s farm hours on end doing field work and Merlin marveled how the machinery and farming advanced since he last farmed. After open heart surgery and recovery, he was so happy to be able to climb the combine steps without having to catch his breath. They would always kid him “when you going to help harvest?” Merlin loved that. He always said, “Don’t worry, I’ll watch you guys so you do it right!” He loved his time joking with them.
During Merlin’s early years he worked part-time driving his uncle’s gravel truck. Merlin milked cows and had a milk route. He had to be going around the south east corner of Black Hawk Lake by seven in the morning and he would turn the radio up with polka music blasting. It was just once that he was late for his south route and he hit the gas pedal! Darlene had a large flock of chickens and would gather buckets of eggs and set them in the basement and go make supper. Merlin, after a busy day, would wash eggs with the egg washer and listen to daughter, Becky practice her music lesson in the piano room above the steps. This was a very special time for him and he always looked forward to it. He never missed her piano recitals starting at seven-years-old. She played in her later years for Pastor Kramer for church services.
Having the dairy herd and the milk route was so confining and time consuming for Merlin so he quit and went to raising purebred Shorthorn Cattle. He was on a men’s bowling team, but once his children started becoming active in school activities, he put that aside so he was able to watch all of their events. The Shorthorn Cattle led the children to 4H and showing at cattle shows and meant Merlin and Darlene must attend cattle sales. They started at the bottom and went and watched, listened and learned from other cattlemen. They had good help from herdsmen at the Iowa State Fair. Their highest honor was at the International in Denver, Colo. They also attended and showed in Chicago and at the Iowa State Fair and many others including the Wall Lake Farm Festival, Sac County Fair and Clay County Fair in Spencer.
With children grown, Merlin and Darlene enjoyed trips to Hawaii, Mexico, Florida, Washington, D.C. and the Boston area. They both loved bed and breakfasts in their older years. Merlin loved cards, played in several card groups and always played a round of solitaire after breakfast. He enjoyed cribbage, king in the corner, or Hawkeye football chess. He and Darlene would play every night (health permitting) after supper at the nursing home. Merlin loved sports and was an avid Hawkeye fan. He and Darlene watched the games and wore their Hawkeye outfits for every game (health permitting). Merlin always had an extra little grin if they won or played a good game.
Community activities early on included: eight years on Sac County Extension Service, 30 or more years as a Wall Lake Township Trustee and on the fireworks committee for the Lake View Summer Carnival, a member of the National Shorthorn Association and the Iowa Shorthorn Association. He was also president of the Northwest Iowa Shorthorn Association. They were honored at the Iowa State Fair for a Century Farm Award and had a wagon with horses in Lake View’s Centennial Parade for this honor. Merlin was active in the Emmanuel Lutheran Church and served as treasurer.
Merlin is survived by his loving wife, Darlene of 66 years; his children: Robert (Jan) Wollesen of MN; Bill (Kris) Wollesen of Lake View; and son-in-law, Jack Moorhouse of Valparaiso, Ind.; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Grandchildren include: Nathan (Mary) Moorhouse and their children, Hudson and twins Sawyer and Wyatt of Owensboro, Ky.; Jennifer (Jake) Buksar and children, Ryan and Katelyn of Jacksonville, Fla.; Mike (Nicole) Moorhouse of Merrillville, Ind.; Crystal (Justin) Cecka of Minneapolis, Minn.; Heather (Matt) Kennedy and their son, Aedan of Madison, Wis.; Holly Wollesen of Chicago, Ill.; John Wollesen of Lake View; and Kara and Jill Wollesen of Boca Raton, Fla. He is also survived by his special cousins: DeAnn Johnson of Eden Prairie, Minn.; Herb and Arlene Koerselman of Simpsonville, Ky.; and a host of relatives and friends.
Preceding Merlin in death were his parents; sister, Phyllis Wollesen; brother, Dale Wollesen; daughter, Becky Wollesen; Darlene’s parents, George and Lillian Mohr; Darlene’s step-dad, Tony Buse; and his step-dad, Dick Ritzman.
Services were held Saturday, March 11, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Lake View. Farber and Otteman Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.