A funeral service for Robert Rickers will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 31 at the Huebner Funeral Home in Westside, with interment in the Westside Cemetery. Due to COVID-19, attendance at the service will be very limited. The family nevertheless appreciates the kind thoughts and prayers that have been expressed in honor of Robert’s life and legacy. The family requests memorials be directed to either St. Anthony Regional Hospice (c/o Trish Roberts, Development Director, P.O. Box 628, Carroll, Iowa 51401 or online at stanthonyhospital.org/about-us/support-us/donate-online or any local hospice organization.
Robert Raymond Rickers was born July 22, 1934, to Raymond and Alma (Pacholke) Rickers on their farm in Jackson Township, Crawford County. Robert passed away at the St. Anthony Nursing Home in Carroll, July 24, 2020, having just turned 86 years old.
Robert was a child of the Great Depression and times were hard when he was born. His mother once said the only thing they got out of the Depression was Robert. The family’s blessings were doubled when Robert’s sister, Darlene, arrived in 1938. Robert attended country schools in Jackson Township before attending high school in Lake View. He graduated in 1952 and then helped his parents on the farm. He put in fences around the land and put in a basement underneath the farmhouse.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1954, attending basic training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He next attended engineering school at Fort Belvoir near Washington, D.C. He was deployed to Korea as part of the 570th Engineer Company. He was honorably discharged in 1956 having attained the rank of Specialist, Third Class. Robert’s commanding officer drafted him to manage the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Club on his base located near Seoul, despite the fact that Private First Class Robert wasn’t an NCO. The commanding officer chose Robert because he had taken an accounting class in high school and he trusted Robert to not drink all of the club’s profits (unlike his predecessor). While Robert watched his peers spend their weekly paychecks at the NCO club, he sent his paychecks to his parents so they could buy cattle for him. His only indulgences were to hold back a few cents each week to buy a bottle of pop and to buy a few gifts for his parents during leave time in Tokyo. Upon his return from Korea, he resumed farming with his parents.
Robert married Linda Vergith in November 1959, and they lived across the road from his parents’ farmstead during the following year. In 1960, their first son, Terry, was born. Later in 1960, Robert’s parents moved to Westside and his family moved across the road to the current homestead. A second son, Lynn, was born in 1961. A daughter, Christy, arrived in 1966.
Robert raised grain, cattle and hogs while building his farming operation over the decades. He and his father were Funks G-Hybrid seed corn dealers and he was a Farm Bureau member. Farming was Robert’s passion and no one worked harder at it than he did. He was a perfectionist and he considered weeds to be a mortal enemy. No weed could survive in any of his well-kept fields. Robert was extremely intelligent and resourceful. He saved money by fixing his own equipment, providing veterinary care to his livestock and by constructing and repairing his farm buildings. During spring blizzards, he would patrol his pastures for newborn calves, sometimes wrapping his winter coat around a calf until he could bring it and the cow to shelter. It was common to find Robert out working in his fields as midnight approached. He took great pride in the bountiful harvests he produced year after year. He passed his operational knowledge on to Keith Freese. Keith continues to operate the farm much like Robert did.
Robert didn’t spare much time for hobbies, but he did collect coins, artifacts and old maps. From time to time, he’d travel northward for a fishing trip. Occasionally, he would enjoy navigating the Boyer River in an inner tube or perhaps in a stock tank. He was very interested in history and he became fascinated with the old wagon and stagecoach trails that crossed Jackson Township. He had a quick wit and a broad smile that he shared with family and friends.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Linda; brother-in-law, Robert Onken; and brother-in-law, Dr. Paul Berger, Jr. He is survived by his children, Terry (Cathy) Rickers of Newton, Lynn (Darla) Rickers of Manilla and Christy Rickers of Vail; his sister, Darlene Onken of Carroll; grandchildren, Cody Rickers, Kyle Rickers, Rachel (Ben) Anderson and Ahren Rickers. He is also survived by his long-time farming partner, Keith (Maureen) Freese and their sons, Travis and Tanner; in-laws, Lorna (Don) Fellom, Pam Olson, Laird Vergith and Lanie Berger; along with many nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors.