Sunday, January 12, Gladbrook Peace United Church of Christ will honor two icons of the church with a special 10:30 AM church service followed by a pot luck meal. It is a celebration of milestones for the 100th birthday of Eldon Wiese and 45 plus years of service to the Sunday School Program for Sharon Shouse.
The two honorees have not only touched the lives of Peace Congregation, but have reached out into the community to touch many. The public is cordially invited to join the congregation for this special service and celebration. Table service, meat, drinks and cake will be provided by the Committee.
Special music is being planned by the Wiese and Shouse families during the worship.
Both honorees are lifelong residents of the Gladbrook community and both were "born and raised" in Peace Church. (The church has had several different names over the years, but for this article will be referred to as Peace United Church of Christ.)
Eldon Wiese was born on the farm south east of Gladbrook on January 12, 1914. He was baptized at Peace Church in 1914. He attended Crystal # 4 country school and graduated from Gladbrook High School in 1932. Following graduation Wiese worked for his father and in 1946 he bought his Dad out. It was a large farm of 250 acres. Horses were the main source of power for the first years. Eldon says his first tractor was a Farmall. Although his Dad had a little Ford that he used to drive as a kid, pulling a two bottom plow.
Eldon told about making the two mile trek to the little country school. He says it set on the corner just a little south of the junction of Highway 96 and T 55. He says, "We would walk to and from school. And when we came home we had chores to do. Dad milked eighteen cows and we kids were expected to milk too. I had four to milk and my sisters (Avis Dahms and Ina Moeller) milked some too. And this was by hand! Dad brought us up knowing how to work."
Confirmation in 1927 brought back memories of a very strict Rev. Specht. Eldon says "The Rev. would point a finger at you and you better know the answer and you sure had to behave yourself. He was tough."
In 1939 Eldon married Elsie Harms and to this union three daughters were born. Karen (Loren) Larsen lives in Ames and has two children and three grandchildren. Carma Wiese lives in Cedar Rapids. Sandy (Doug) Koester lives in Davenport and has three children and seven grandchildren. Kenny Wiese is deceased. Elsie Wiese passed away in1950.
A young lady by the name of Dorothy Harris came to work for Eldon and help care for the three young daughters he was raising. And that was a wonderful choice for them both. Eldon and Dorothy were married on October 12, 1952. They celebrated their 62nd anniversary last fall. Remarkable!
Eldon was a respected farmer in the area. He raised corn, soybeans, oats and made hay. He was a livestock farmer and fed a lot of cattle. Untold hours were spent caring for the beef and he was well known at the Tama Livestock Auction.
In 1974 Eldon and Dorothy moved "up the hill" to the west and lived there until they moved into Gladbrook in 1990. In September 2013 they made the choice to down size and now live in Apartment 11 at Westbrook Acres Independent Living.
For 34 years Eldon and Dorothy traveled south for the winter. They visited Florida, Arizona and Mission, TX. This is the fourth winter they have remained in Iowa. They said, "We miss going south, but we miss our friends. So many friends."
When Eldon was asked what he thought the biggest change was in his 100 years, he replied, "The people themselves. It is how they live, we went to church, we were respectable. My girls wore decent clothing - never were allowed to wear shorts away from home."
He continued, "And electricity. Dad put a Delco plant in our basement in 1917. The cement block it sat on is still there. Dad got one bill for three dollars and thought that was too much money. We had to turn out the lights and be very careful."
The toughest times Eldon remembers is during the depression. He stated, "I'm a Democrat because of Roosevelt. He put Dad and I on high street with his plans. Corn went from ten cents a bushel to forty four cents a bushel. And Harry Truman was quite a man. He saved thousands of soldiers lives by dropping the bomb."
Eldon says his happiest times, ".... have been spent with Dorothy. We were so happy living together, going to dances and the Texas life."
Sharon Shouse is being honored for her 45 plus years of working with Peace Church Sunday School Program.
Sharon says, "I have always been in this church. I was baptized here, confirmed and married here by Rev. Poeschel. All three of my kids were baptized and raised in the church. Susan and Randy were married here."
Sharon was educated in the Gladbrook Schools, graduating with the class of 1956. Sharon and her husband Jay Dee Shouse were married in 1956. She met the Missouri native at the Tama County Fair in the hog barns. Jay Dee was working for Dick Bruene and happened to be at the swine barns.
Following marriage the couple moved to Joliet, Illinois, where Jay Dee worked for Caterpillar. They came back to Iowa on Armistice Day of 1957 when Susan was a tiny baby. They lived on the home place until Curt came back from service. During this time Jay Dee worked for Paul Mohr and the John Deere/Coop in Lincoln as a mechanic. In January of 1962 the family moved to where they now live. Sharon says, "It is known as the Barfel's place."
Sharon served as a substitute bus driver for the Gladbrook Schools for a number of years. After her father passed away in 1993 she took a Certified Nurses Aide Class and worked at Westbrook Acres until she began to baby-sit Grandson Aaron Shouse.
They raised a lot of hogs and Sharon worked with them a lot. She drove the tractor in the field some and helped wherever Jay Dee needed her. She is a "volunteer supreme", heading the Gladbrook Meals on Wheels Program for a number of years.
Sharon received the governor's Volunteer Award in Des Moines and also the WMT Good Neighbor Award for her community volunteer work.
Sharon is very well known for her baking. Who in the community has not had the pleasure of eating one of her melt-in-the-mouth Bread-Sticks! She also made Cinnamon Rolls and Donuts by the dozen that were served during Corn Carnival at the church stand.
"My favorite to bake are the Bread Sticks. I like to make them because other people enjoy them."
Sharon began her tenure with the Sunday School Program in 1966 to fill in for Bess Fulster who was expecting. Sharon has taught nearly all ages and has been Superintendent of the school age children for an untold number of years. She says, "Pat Oettchen was Superintendent of the little ones and she and I had a lot of fun working together and with all the teachers. I tried to write down the names of all the teachers I worked with and cannot remember all who have come and gone."
It would be appropriate to add that Sharon was a mentor for a good number of young high school girls who taught under her supervision.
When queried as to the biggest change in Sunday School, Sharon was quick to reply, " The number of students. Years ago we were overflowing with four table of the little ones and the other rooms full to the brim. Now we are down to 20 on a good day."
She went on to add, "I miss the musicals the Sunday School used to do. And the big Christmas Programs on Christmas Eve. The costumes were so elaborate. And I miss the days when all the teachers would get together and make caramel corn and fill sacks for all the kids."
Sharon says, "I even have an Evangelical and Reformed Attendance Pin. At the time I started, a year of perfect attendance meant going 52 weeks consecutively." Consequently the honor of "45 plus years".
Sharon says, "People ask me how long I am going to do this. And I just say, until somebody wants to do it or I cannot see to do it anymore. They always want me to run for Church Board, and I just say, I will when I am not Sunday School Superintendent."
Jay Dee and Sharon are parents to Susan (Randy) Beichley of Gladbrook, Shawn Shouse of Atlantic and John Shouse of Lincoln. There are ten Grandchildren and six Great Grandchildren.
Sharon is kept busy with her church work, baking and caring for Jay Dee, as he has acquired some difficult health problems.
The honor for Eldon and Sharon was kept secret - until it was announced in the January church letter. Sharon says, "The church letter came a day or two before. Jay Dee had fallen and I had a terrible time getting him up. I am not to lift yet (result of recent eye surgery) and I just decided I am going to sit down and take a break. I just let out a yell when I read it. I had offered to help with the day a couple of times and never got an answer. Now I know why."