Steven Theodore “Steve” Wachtel, only son of George and Clarice (Jochums) Wachtel, was born at Hand Memorial Hospital in Hartley, IA, on July 25, 1928. He grew up on the family farm, along with his younger sister, Marilyn, helping with the daily chores and farm work as he was able. Besides row crops, there were cows to milk - morning and evening, and sheep and hogs to tend to. By the age of 10, Steve was already out in the field planting corn. Luckily, farm work didn’t last forever, so when there was a break, Steve enjoyed spending time with his Grandpa Wachtel either hunting or fishing. Lots of good memories, and stories to recall trail back to those times and events.
For nine years, Steve received his education through the country school system at Lincoln Township #3. When Lincoln closed, he attended Sanborn Community School in Sanborn, IA for the 1942 school year. Here he got involved in sports – all of them – football, baseball and track, filling up his letter sweater with nine stripes. He also participated in choir and was president of his senior class; graduating from Sanborn High School in 1946.
At the age of 17 years, Steve enlisted in the United States Army. He served his country from September 1946 until his discharge in 1948; most of that time spent in Korea. After returning home, Steve continued farming with his Dad until September of 1948 when he became a student at Iowa State College in Ames, IA majoring in Animal Science. Following college graduation, Steve resumed working on the farm with his Dad.
In 1954, Steve met Joan Edla Nelson through mutual friends; on February 1, 1958, they were united in marriage. The new couple began their life together at Blythe, CA as Steve was employed as the Ranch Foreman for Lonesome Valley Cattle Company. Their oldest daughter, Kathy was born here. When the ranch was closed down due to its location along the Colorado River, Steve began working at a Magnesium mine near Blythe as a welder, and then as a truck driver. Eventually, the family came back to Iowa and Steve took a position teaching Veterans at Paullina, something he had done during college. In the spring of 1961, Steve’s parents retired and moved into the town of Sanborn, and Steve and Joan began their life on the Wachtel home place. Nancy and Patty were added to the family in 1961 and 1963, respectively, and the Wachtel family was complete.
The years Steve and Joan spent on the farm were… rich and full – if that’s what you call working hard, raising a family, and being involved in your community – and they enjoyed all of it. They worked together, played together and were grateful at the end of every busy day for the opportunity to live in the country. Steve raised cattle, hogs, sheep, and had laying hens. There was corn to pick and beans to walk and fences to put up, and everyone pitched in. Being able to see the Wachtel place added to the Century Farm roster in 2019 was definitely a humbling experience and an unforgettable highlight of Steve’s farming career.
When the girls were involved in school activities, Steve and Joan tried to take in as many events as they could. Family trips included attending the National REC Conventions in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Orlando. Steve had been the secretary for the O’Brien County REC, was active in the American Legion, Masons and sat on church and school boards. He was a member of the United Methodist Church in Melvin, IA.
On April 2, 2021, Steve passed from this life at the age of 92 years. He now joins loved ones who have gone on before: His wife of 60 years, Joan; his parents, George and Clarice Wachtel; many other relatives.
Left to cherish his memory are his children: Kathy Wachtel, Nancy (Ward) Seufferlein, and Pat Wachtel; grandchildren: Danielle (Andrew) Green, Ivy Seufferlein, and David Seufferlein; one great-grandchild: Ezekiel Steven Green; his sister, Marilyn Olseen; sister-in-law, Virginia Nelson, and her three children and families: Philip, Sara, and Priscilla; other relatives and many friends.