Remembering Dennis J. Nieland (1933
as told by Lorraine Nieland Starman to
Elaine Lawson, November 2001
I am trying to think what I should tell you about
my brother Denny. He was born when I was 5 years old. Mom was
pregnant with him when Grandma Nieland died. She was told not
to look at the body or it would "mark the baby" an old
wives tale. It didn't happen. He was a cute little guy and fun.
We played together on the farm. Once we crawled through a tunnel
in the straw stack the cows had made while eating the straw. We
also went up into the corncrib, climbed the steps to the ladder
and then climbed that ladder into the empty oats bin and into
the shelled corn bin where we "swam". How dangerous!
If mom or dad had known! We would play in the buggies that Grandpa
Nieland left in the grove and Denny would pretend to drive and
I would play the grand lady. Once he climbed up to the top of
the windmill too. He had a tricycle that he pulled a brunch of
discs strung on a long bolt that was normally used on a wagon
box. He attached these with a wire and pretended he was disking.
He once rode his trike on the gravel road toward Uncle Louis'
farm where dad was helping his brother. When Denny was asked why
he did that, (he was into Sac County quite a way), he said, "Oh,
a bumble bee chased me."
When we moved to Grandma's
[Margaret Lappe] he made friends with Jimmy and Gene Daniels who
lived across the street. One was in his grade 3rd then and the
other was a year ahead. The older boy got a Des Moines Register
paper route and Denny and Jim would go along to help. Denny begged
the paper boss, Mr. Baker to let him have a route too. Mr. Baker
bent the rules a bit and gave Den a route. He had that route well
into high school and when he wanted to play football he gave it
up. I was told the paper route had to be split in two because
it was so big. Denny had increased his customers that much.
After high school, Denny
took the job my husband [Tony Starman] left delivering bottle
gas. Then after about a year he, Corky Haman and Jim Daniels applied
for jobs with Western Electric, a division of the Northwestern
Bell Telephone Company. They became installers of switchboards.
Denny stuck it out to retirement.
Denny lived at home with
Mom and Marilyn in the house Mom had built. He was sent to many
places to work and eventually met Alberta [(Skaran) Nieland],
a divorced woman with a small boy who worked as a telephone operator.
When Denny brought her home to Carroll I was married with 2 children.
Denny and Alberta were later married by her uncle. When the twins
were born, Denny called about it and a couple of months later
Tony and I took our kids and Mom to Minneapolis where they were
Denny became very successful
and eventually was transferred to Omaha, Nebraska as a supervisor.
He bought a home in Millard and had the eastern part of Nebraska
and western part of Iowa as his territory. He had to be cleared
by the FBI as he supervised the communications wiring at the Strategic
Air Control at Omaha. He also supervised the installation of a
satellite for the public broadcasting in western Nebraska. He
always had farming in his blood so they bought a run down, 90-acre
farm close to Missouri Valley. It had an old house on it. They
went every weekend and cleaned up the place. They decided they
liked it so well that they sold their home in Millard and had
a Wausau manufactured home put on a basement foundation and moved
into it. Denny consulted the farm agent and brought the land into
good production. He raised good crops and eventually had terraces
built to make more of the hilly land tillable. It is a beautiful
place. Tony and I visited it a couple of years before Denny died
and it is so peaceful. He did not want to move to town when he
retired early from Western Electric.
A few years after they
moved there he had a pig nursery built and raised feeder pigs.
Bert worked hard with them when Denny was gone and even helped
the mother pigs have their babies. There was a good deal of money
in that project. They fed the corn and sold the soybeans he raised.
He got out of the hog business eventually and the year before
he died he rented out the land. They bought a retirement trailer
in Texas, close to his high school buddy, Corky Haman. They spent
one winter in it but Den got sick the second winter. He had to
be flown to Omaha and taken to the hospital for tests. He was
diagnosed with stomach cancer. He took some treatments, but eventually
refused any more. Alberta called a priest as Denny had many times
said he wanted to come back to the church. He had the last rites
and had a funeral mass. He is buried in Omaha. Coming back to
the church is the only thing that helps me reconcile with his
death. Denny was a wonderful guy and a good brother whom I saw
far too little of in my grown up years. We saw each other most
when mom (at age 82) got hit by a car coming home from Mass on
Dec. 8 and got a broken leg. I took care of her after she left
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