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Reunion fun flows to stories of war

July 8, 2012
Messenger News

Mind bubbles explode in my head too often for comfort, especially after a day of fun.

You may have read last Sunday about Dencklau Fest 2012, a reunion of 361 descendants of Anton and Elfrieda Dencklau, who gathered at the home place, now home to No. 3 grandchild, Doug Dencklau, and his wife, Marjean.

Funny thing, my grandmother was Elfrieda Dencklau before she married my grandfather, Gus Hansch. The Dencklau clans may have been related, but it would have been way back when in another time, another country.

So it was, I went as an outsider, although I knew so many so well.

But that's not the point. The point is that reunion made me think of family, of my dad, Ray Hansch, and his brothers, Bob and Don.

With Bob on my mind, I grabbed my friend Loree Clarken and went to Duncombe on Tuesday for lunch with his wife, Doris.

Don's on my mind often because I saw him more often, especially when my husband and I moved to Dodge. When anyone talks about Don, it's always his laugh they mention - people could tell Don was around just hearing him laugh. But when I think of Don, it's always about the lost opportunity of hearing his war stories.

And that makes me so sad. Sad because now I can only guess what he went through, sadder yet because that cup of coffee we planned to share never happened. He died on my birthday several years ago.

Maybe because I'm getting older hearing stories of World War II makes me feel part of a larger family - all those who served then and are serving now, like my friend Dawn Thompson. And maybe it's because I love them both that the stories mean so much.

World War II veterans die every day. Many of them. And all that's left are the stories they've told and the stories they've left untold.

There's an organization I never heard of until recently that wants to save stories of wartime heroes - the women who worked across the country in the war effort. They're called Rosies. Each was known as Rosie the Riveter during the war when they built planes and warships, even ammunition.

"These women performed jobs that were essential to the war effort," wrote Donnaleen Lanktree, national president of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. "Each day we lose the opportunity to honor these remarkable women and collect their stories for future generations."

She's also looking for family members of these American Rosies. Right now there are no annual dues for this organization, but there is a lifetime membership fee. Information is available online at, or Lanktree may be reached by email at or by phone at (888) 557-6743.

If you've got a Rosie story of your own, get in touch with this woman. Talk to your Rosie now. Don't wait until that cup of coffee you intend to share sits untouched because your Rosie passed away.

Don't lose your stories.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at



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