HURON — Irving Wessel, age 91, of Huron, passed away Monday, October 28, 2019, at Avantara of Huron, formerly SunQuest Health Care Center.
His funeral service will be 10 a.m. Saturday, January 11, 2020, at the Riverview United Methodist Church. His visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, January 10, at the Riverview United Methodist Church, with his family present. A prayer service with a time of sharing will be held at 6 p.m., Friday evening, January 10.
Irving Edward Wessel was born on April 28, 1928 to Alfred and Katherine (Barnes) Wessel. He graduated from Huron High School. He enlisted in the Navy April 1945, and for most of his service, served aboard a tanker, USS Kaskaskia, until his discharge in March 1949. He was primarily in the Pacific, but entered China rivers, also went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka now) and Africa’s coast. Being frugal, he saved his Navy pay and upon his return, bought his first 40 acres.
Irving married Arlene (Hegg) Wessel on December 26, 1949. With his wife and farming partner, Irving owned and operated a diversified farm of about 4000 acres of hay, crops, raised Hereford cattle, chickens and had a farrow to finish hog operation. They retired in 2005. Irving also operated a hay moving business.
Irving was proud of his Navy service, so he was active in veterans’ organizations. He was a lifetime member of the Alpena American Legion Owen Kunze Post, where he served in a variety of capacities including Commander and in the Honor Guard until November 2016, when it was too difficult for him to hold up the flag. He was a member of 40 et 8 and the VFW. He was a proud supporter of the Huron Military Monument. Irving was a proud member of the 2011 Honor Flight. Despite working on the farm seven days a week, his love of country and service called him to serve his community.
Irving served the Clifton Township board, Clifton #3 School Board, serving as President. Irving was elected to the Oahe Conservancy Water District until it was disbanded by legislature. He was then elected to the James River Water Development Board. His elected service totaled 30 years. Irving was committed to property rights, lower taxes through common sense efficiencies and maintaining government to rule as close to the people as possible. Yet, he also believed that farmers were stewards of the land with the responsibility to pass on to future generations rich, fertile soil with a clean and substantial water table maintained. Irving also served on the Board of Equalization, and was a Farm Bureau active member. He was a member of the Riverview United Methodist Church and served on the Board of Trustees. When Irving saw a need, he stepped up with a solution. He and another member designed and constructed a cabinet to hold the many church banners. Irving taught himself to weld, to create efficiencies on farm and cut expenses and make “inventions”.
Unable to play sports in school, Irving as a young adult played amateur basketball, baseball and bowled. He served as a President of the Bowling League. He played with a Huron baseball team and for most of his career with the Alpena baseball team. He played in several state tournaments and in several positions. After his playing days were over, he managed the Alpena baseball team for many years; and then umpired. In later years, he was thrilled to watch his grandchildren and great-grandchildren play baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, swimming, tennis, softball; and watch many 4-H events. He also followed area local football, basketball, and legion baseball teams. Irving was an avid hunter with a good eye for shooting. He enjoyed hosting hunting parties for several decades and generations — especially for his grandsons.
A friend, writing a testimony, wrote of Irving and Arlene: “The Wessels are a loving, caring, law abiding family; the first to help a friend, neighbor, or anybody in distress or need. Everything they have was obtained through hard work, sacrifice and saving.”
Irving loved his family and was so proud of them. He enjoyed every minute he spent with them — usually teasing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Despite Irving and Arlene’s success in farming, leadership and service, they also knew great tragedies — losing their son, Bruce and grandson, Matt; a tornado, flooding and crop losses. Yet their faith in God and love for one another kept them strong and vital “rocks” for their family and community.
Blessed and grateful to be a part of his hardworking and inspiring life — dedicated to God, family, country, friends and community, we will miss him. He is survived by the love of his life and wife of nearly 70 years, Arlene; three daughters, Katherine Trummer, Tenn., Sandra (Mark) Peters, MN, and Laurie (Dave Fenske, SD) Fenske, AZ; a daughter-in-law, Teresa Wessel, SD; eight grandchildren, Mandy (Marty) Michalek, SD, Ryan Trummer, FL, Michelle (Britton) Garrett, TN, Nick (Kim) Peters, Okinawa, Japan, Alex (Meghan) Peters, MN, Katelyn (Jeremy Pizinger) Peters, MN, Max (Lea Zagorin) Fenske, NC, and Alexandra Fenske, AZ; ten great-grandchildren, Garrett Wessel, Colton, Ryder and Tayzlee Michalek, Emma and Lilly Garrett, Claire and Emily Peters, Brady and Joanna Peters; a sister-in-law, Delores Wessel of SD; two step-brothers, Stewart (friend, Gloria Soulek) Fleming, SD and Harvie (Roberta) Fleming, IA; loving family physician and friend, Dr. Robert Hohm; many nieces; nephews; cousins; and old and new friends he met everywhere he went.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Katherine Wessel; his step-mother, Fern Wessel; three brothers, Robert, Lowell and Dale; his son, Bruce Wessel; and grandson, Matthew Wessel.
The family extends heartfelt appreciation to the amazing nurses and staff of SunQuest Health Care Center and Hospice for their professionalism and loving care for Irving.
Memorials may be offered to HRMC Hospice, Riverview Methodist Church, Farm Bureau Scholarship Program, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association or Craig Hospital (a traumatic brain and spinal cord injury rehab hospital in Englewood, Colorado).