Generations find the right date

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2003

June 2 was a lucky day for Ole and Lena Helle.

It was lucky for Richard and Minnie Scheffel, too.

And, Matt and Sue Stark.

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And, Suzi Stark and her husband, Anthony Holst.

Four generations from the same family found the date to their liking and were married June 2.

On Sunday, the three surviving couples celebrated their anniversaries. Richard and Minnie Scheffel's took the spotlight. They've been married 60 years.

A daughter said the couple epitomizes partners who sacrificed themselves for their family.

The secret to this successful six-decade-long marriage is elementary: share decisions and don't give up.

Ole and Lena Helle were married at Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church, east of Lyle, June 2, 1919.

The ceremony took place on a Sunday after morning worship services.

The couple raised a family of four daughters and three sons.

The Helles' daughter, Minnie, married Richard Scheffel also in Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church June 2, 1943.

They both worked at Hormel Foods Corporation after the end of World War II, but forged a living as a farming couple until Richard's health required him to retire and the couple moved to Pickett Place in Austin.

Matt Stark, son of the Scheffels' daughter, Judy, married Sue Espe June 2, 1990, at Grace Lutheran Church in Austin.

Judy Stark's daughter, Suzi, married Anthony Holst June 2, 2001.

Richard Scheffel met his June-2-bride-to-be after a cousin had dated Minnie Helle. Their first date: the London Free Show.

"I guess we hit it off right away and it was love at first sight," Minnie recalls.

Richard went to college at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, where he was a classmate of Don Benneke, rural Waltham, a decorated World War II hero.

After getting married, the couple lived with Richard's parents on their farm near London.

They had three children. A daughter, Judy, was the first-born. She works for the city of Austin.

A son, Arnold, was born second. He married Melody Olson and the couple had a son and daughter.

Tragically, Arnold was killed in a

motor vehicle accident Aug. 2, 1982. His parents sponsor and award for the outstanding 4-H dairy exhibitor at the annual Mower County 4-H recognition banquet.

Another son, Roger, was born next.

Roger, a retired dairy farmer, married Deann Johnson. The couple had four daughters, Patty, Jenny, Mikki and Candy.

In all, the family started by Richard and Minnie Scheffel has produced three children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Richard and Minnie were co-equal farming partners through most of their married life. Dairying was the cornerstone of the farming operation. Year after year, Roger and Deann Scheffel's daughters brought home champion ribbons for the Mower County and Minnesota State fairs for their dairy projects.

The couple, like so many others, had its share of setbacks, too.

Richard lost a leg at mid-thigh to cancer but learned to walk with a prosthesis and now gets around with an electric scooter or his van.

The amputation took place 19 years ago.

His wife, Minnie, had open heart surgery and both knees replaced.

A year ago, the couple decided they could no longer manage on their state-line road farm and moved into Austin.

For all the other June brides and grooms preparing to say "I do," the couple that has been married six decades has this advice:

"Be together on all the important decisions you make in life," Minnie said.

"Keep plugging away. Never give up," Richard said.

Their daughter, Judy Stark, spoke for the family on the occasion of their anniversary.

"They worked together on a dairy farm when it was really hard work and they raised their family the best they knew how," she said.

"I think the one thing that sets them apart is that they pulled together on everything," she said.

Who will be the next to choose the lucky June 2 date for the act of pulling together in marriage?

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at\