Ruggebergs are Grand Marshals

Marian and Darrell Ruggeberg on Allis Chalmers Rd.

Darrell and Marian Ruggeberg have been named Grand Marshals of the Old Settlers Day parade. They have been deserving of the title for many years, but have been too busy. Too busy volunteering, that is.

The couple and their family have been in charge of the annual antique tractor pull during Chester’s annual celebration for nine years. Before that, they competed at Lime Springs.

They started the Chester pull in 2002 when Old Settlers Day was revived by the Booster Club (now called Partners In Progress). But since they passed on the tractor keys to the younger generation (Mike Bielefeld and Gary Sunnes), they now have time to relax and take part in the parade as the guests of honor!

“We decided to let new blood take over. It was time for someone else to do it. There is a lot of work connected with the pull,” said Darrell. “I’ll probably be a spectator this year.”

He’s never been able to just watch the tractor pull as he was either helping to get tractors ready or working in the office at Ostrander Coop.

Darrell’s the first to admit it wasn’t just him, though. Marian has been working by his side, as she has done for the past 50 years, along with their four children (Lee, Dana, Daryn and Kim), 20 grandkids and three great-grandsons.

“The family that pulls together, stays together” can be the motto of the Ruggeberg family. Darrell remembers entering a tractor pull years ago in Lime Springs when the big machines were in town. They started pulling annually in 1999, just three years after their youngest son, Doug, died of complications from an accident.

The family purchased T-shirts with “Pulling In Memory Of Doug” written on it and started competing. They’ve been “pulling” together every year since.

Ruggebergs are proud their children and their spouses participate in the pulls and enjoy cheering for some of their grandchildren, who also pull.

You won’t see any of them pulling anything but an Allis-Chalmers, though. “My first tractor was a WD, and my second was a WD-45 that I still have. That’s all we used to farm with,” Marian joked. “Now they’re all antiques.”

She has tried to get Darrell to fix the tractors up and let all the grandkids drive them in local parades, but that gets costly and time consuming, so it’s on Darrell’s to-do list. Besides, they would take up 16-20 spots in the parade.

Something else on his to-do list is getting a shelf put up in the shed, so the 200-300 trophies they’ve won at pulls can all be displayed.

In their older years, the high school sweethearts are slowing down on some things, but hey, that’s their prerogative. They’ve led a busy life.

Besides raising five children, they used to milk 35 cows, had a 300-400 pig start to finish farrowing operation, raised chickens and crop farmed corn and beans. Now they just raise crops, a herd of cats . . . and rocks, or so it seems.

The family has always gone rock picking in the spring, and Darrell just loves it. He gets to hire his grandkids “and give them some spending money,” but he also gets to spend time with them. “In today’s world, families don’t spend time with their children and grandchildren.” Grandpa is out in the field with the kids while Grandma gets to cook for them and enjoy them over lunch.

The couple moved to their farm, five miles west of Lime Springs, in 1969. Marian’s sister, Myrna Ladwig, had moved to Chester so Ruggebergs followed them. There was no land for sale in their native Wheatland, Iowa area, so they purchased a farm in Howard County. The only trouble was “they never told us about the rocks,” joked Marian.

Besides picking rock, Marian also picked up children every day for 20 years as she was a school bus driver. Now she keeps busy with gardening, with help from daughter Kim, and keeping Darrell in line!

Marian also likes collecting pigs and angels. Darrell collects big and little tractors. But they have passed on their biggest collection to their children and grandchildren . . . collecting tractor pull trophies.

When you see Darrell and Marian this weekend, either watching the tractor pull or riding in the parade, give them a shout of “Hello.” And say thanks for all they’ve done for the Old Settlers Day over the past decade.

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