Granger-Florenceville is a giving community
Wed, 09/05/2018 - 1:54pm admin
By Marcie Klomp News Editor email@example.com
FLorenceville - The annual Granger-Florenceville Tractor Pull was held on Aug. 25, with a special dedication in the middle.
Don Wilken lived in the Granger area from 1939 until his death on Feb. 28, 2017. Many individuals knew him as a kind man, and that kindness continued even after his death.
His estate was in the $1.5 million range, and he gave much of it away to area churches, cemeteries, ball teams, veteran organizations and more.
The tractor pull was put on hold for a few moments to recognize Wilken’s generosity to the Florenceville-Granger community. He gave $50,000 to his home church, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church of Granger, $10,000 to St. Matthew’s Cemetery and $10,000 to the Granger softball team.
Dennis Langreck polished up a rock, and Rick Reicks obtained a plaque from Holstrom’s Gift and Jewelry that shows a picture of Wilken, with the words, “Don Wilken, 1927-2017, His generosity to the local communities and youth softball are only outshined by his ever present smile.” The Granger softball team monetarily helped with the memorial.
Reicks installed a flag pole and landscaping to complete the memorial at Florenceville Park. Reicks, former chairman of the tractor pull, said a few words at the dedication, which recognized the humble, church-going bachelor, who lived a simple life and showed his true spirit throughout his life and death.
The ball diamond
Mike Berg has been coach of the Granger softball team for 22 years and has been a driving force in keeping it in shape, with help from numerous donations. The annual tractor pull has been a major benefactor over the years.
Over his years coaching, Berg said he has had a lot of good help over the years. This past season, there were 20 super pee-wee players (ages 6-9) and 26 pee-wees (10-12) playing on Mondays and a 13-15 team playing on Fridays.
“The ball team is like a family,” he said. When he sees former players they usually talk of the comraderie they felt playing ball for Granger.
Most of Wilken’s donation is going toward more lights at the ball field, which were badly needed. With Wilken’s gift, that leaves other items Berg and the Granger team can purchase or improve.
Berg is all about the players. For many years he has hosted an adult softball tournament. Teams pay to play and expect no paybacks. That money goes for the kids, who are able to play for free.
Don Wilken did a great thing leaving money to the ball club, but others also have helped keep the park and ball diamond open for all to enjoy.
Around 10 years ago, to help out Howard County Conservation, Wayne and Janice Engelhardt and others started mowing the grass. The “others” included Gerald Keune, Dan O’Connor, Bob Phillips and Wayne Drilling to name just a few.
Since their quiet campaign to improve the park, community members and Conservation have worked together to replace the shelter house and put in restrooms and new play equipment. In addition, an easily accessible canoe launch was installed next to the park.
Working together is what small-town living is all about, and the residents of the twin cities of Granger-Florenceville have certainly made that clear with the dedication they have shown for their recreation.