In 1932, the song “Night and Day” topped the charts, Lionel Barrymore won an Academy Award for best actor, gasoline was 18 cents a gallon and Grace Stuckwisch was born.
Stuckwisch, daughter of Martin and Mary Redicker Pollert, came into the world on Sept. 21, 1932, and grew up in Vallonia and since then has become a resident of Seymour.
As as elementary school student, she attended Trinity Lutheran School, which was a one-room school next to Trinity Lutheran Church in Vallonia, Stuckwisch said.
Some of her earliest childhood memories include losing her father when she was almost 5, the oldest of three children.
“He passed away quietly and peacefully while I was riding in the back seat of the car with him after Mom took him to the doctor because he hadn’t been feeling well,” Stuckwisch said. “My two younger siblings were riding in the front seat with Mom.”
She grew up on the farm, where her mom and dad raised cows and milked every day.
“After Daddy died, I helped out all the time working in the melon fields,” Stuckwisch said. “I remember hoeing in the melon fields all day just to be able to go to the carnival in Brownstown. We each got one ride on the merry-go-round and an ice cream cone.”
She graduated from Vallonia High School in 1950 and then took a job as a secretary at Farm Bureau Co-op, where she worked for Art Darlage for 10 years and loved her job, she said.
Stuckwisch met her future husband, Noble Stuckwisch, at Rural Youth in 1953, and they were married June 13, 1954, after becoming engaged on Easter.
“We were married for over 49 years when Noble passed away in August 2003,” she said.
Their children are Jan (Scott) Thayer, who lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Dana (Mark Dietrich) Stuckwisch, who lives in Greenwood. She has one grandchild, Dakota Thayer, 19.
Stuckwisch said most of her time outside of school was spent at church and Walther League (aka church youth group), and she and her friends spent spent lots of time at Rural Youth activities, which is where she met Noble.
Growing up during the Great Depression, she recalls having their food and gas rationed.
“I remember Mom getting stamps for food and gas, and I remember her having to ask others for extra stamps to buy the three of us children new pairs of shoes for school,” Stuckwisch said.
A couple of her favorite family traditions that have continued over the years are getting together with the Pollert family every Fourth of July for fireworks and homemade ice cream and also every Dec. 26 to celebrate Christmas.
After leaving Farm Bureau Co-op, Stuckwisch and her husband started Stuckwisch Appliances with his brother, Leland, and his wife, Marilyn. Later on, they sold it to Floyd and Cathy Stuckwisch.
“I continued working with the new owners until I retired,” Stuckwisch said.
Stuckwisch has been a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church Sauers since she and Noble were married and still attends services weekly.
Over the years she has been involved with the Walther League, Rural Youth, Sauers Ladies Aid and AAL (as well as served on numerous committees) at St. John’s and Sauers Extension Homemakers Club.
“I was in the Star Promenaders square dance club, which Noble and I started with Art and Mabel Pollert, and the Western Twirlers square dance club, also started by Noble and I,” Stuckwisch said. “I’ve been in Tri-Kappa, and I have volunteered weekly at Schneck Medical Center for the last 22 years.”
These days, she enjoys playing cards, going out to eat with friends, visiting friends in the nursing home, watching the Game Show Network, doing word search puzzles and spending time with her family.
“I never imagined I would live alone for over 19 years after losing my husband, Noble,” Stuckwisch said. “I feel very blessed to be able to take care of myself and spend time doing the things I enjoy.”
Stuckwisch said she spent her 90th birthday with her daughter, Dana Stuckwisch, and Mark Dietrich at their home in Greenwood and with her daughter, Jan, and son-in-law, Scott. They all went out to dinner and played cards.
Jan said they also celebrated with an open house at W.R. Ewing in Brownstown on Sept. 18 with approximately 200 family members and friends. It was a wonderful day filled with family, friends, lots of laughter, hugs and stories being shared, she said.
“My sister, Dana, and I planned the entire celebration together, and we did all the decorations and catering ourselves,” Jan said. “We wanted to do something special for Mom and to give all of our family and her friends the opportunity to help her celebrate. In past years, we’ve taken family trips to celebrate milestone birthdays (Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, for her 85th, traveling to Maine for her 80th and Newport, Kentucky, for her 75th).”
Jan said when she and her sister were growing up, they absolutely loved their mom’s homemade chocolate cream pie, and they always look forward to her homemade angel waffles for breakfast every time they stay over.
“Our childhood memories are filled with lots of happy times spent with family and friends. Mom and Dad were always very active,” she said. “We enjoyed camping together growing up, many times at the homes of different family friends.”
She said their family had monthly get-togethers with several different groups to play cards, camp out, butcher and travel.
“It was very special to have several from each group attend her birthday celebration, and she continues to get together with friends from all parts of her life, even friends from her school days,” Jan said. “When we were growing up, she and Dad could always be found in the stands at our sporting events, especially all of our volleyball games.”
She said her mom still wakes up every day at 6:55 a.m. to listen to Know Your Bible on the radio.
“Her Christian faith and service to the church are an example for others to follow, and she is still an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church,” Jan said. “She’s volunteering at church suppers, attending meetings, serving on committees, including the fair committee, funeral dinners, etc.”
Jan said her mom still picks up her friends and drives them to card groups so they don’t have to miss, even though she’s the oldest in the bunch.
“She absolutely loves being around people and rarely meets a stranger,” she said.