The Gladbrook Corn Carnival Corporation named Bill and Doris Tessau as Grand Marshalls of the 2014 parade. The parade took place on Friday, June 27 at 6:30 PM.
Bill and Doris were selected because of their continued involvement in the community and its people. Bill was one of the first persons to really push for the construction of a nursing home in Gladbrook. And he has been Mr. Ambassador of Gladbrook as he blew balloons and created all kinds of animals.
Corn Carnival Chair Terri Luehring stated, "Bill and Doris were chosen because of their involvement in the community. Bill has been a real ambassador with his balloons and they both have contributed a lot to Gladbrook and the area."
Bill and Doris Tessau of Gladbrook were chosen as the 2014 Gladbrook Corn Carnival Grand Marshalls. They have been married nearly 72 years and have been involved in community activities, whether it be helping a neighbor with a ride to the doctor, or fund raising for a new community facility. Bill is known as “The Balloon Man” as he has distributed thousands of balloon creatures. The Tessaus are pictured among the lush flowers on their patio.
For five years Bill rode on RAGBRAI blowing up and distributing about 125 balloons daily. He would go to nursing homes along the route. Doris quipped, "I did the work and he had fun. I drove the camper along the route and had to keep up with him." While he no longer rides RAGBRAI , Bill has not retired from the balloon business. Just recently he helped raise funds for little Grace Lidgett of Traer. She has cystic Fibrosis, a lung disease, and the town held a benefit for the family.
Getting into making the balloon animals happened back in the eighties. Bill always fed out a lot of cattle and the market fell apart. He said, "I had to have something to do and we were in the Merle Hay Mall and there was a guy making balloons. I thought it looked like I could do it and I bought balloons and got some books and sat at home and figured it out. I guess I've been doing it about 35 years." We must remember that all the balloons were given freely. There never ever was a charge for a single balloon distributed!
The theme for the 2014 corn Carnival was "Remembering Our Heritage". Bill, at age 90, and Doris at 89, are long time area residents. Doris grew up southwest of Gladbrook and Bill grew up about 6 miles north of Gladbrook on T 47. They have been married for 71 years.
Doris says she went to country school and was scared to death when she came to Gladbrook for high school. She rode her horse to and from Gladbrook each day, "Unless there was a blizzard,"she said. She knew no one, but Virginia Frese became her friend. Virginia's Dad ran the grocery store.
And it was Virginia who introduced Bill and Doris - during Corn Carnival! Doris says her friend wanted her to meet Bill and he was on the Tilt-A-Whirl, but when he got off it had made him sick. They still ended up meeting and then in school there was a movie and Bill asked her to sit with him. So she said yes. And Bill quickly asked, "Did we hold hands?" and she responded, "Of course not."
Doris said, "A lot of girls wanted to go with Bill. He had a moon white 1941 Chevy that had white tires and a real fancy steering wheel." And Doris also revealed that Bill was a basketball cheerleader with two other girls! If you do not believe it, check out his uniform in the Gladbrook Museum.
It was during World War II in 1942 when the Tessaus married. "We went to Missouri and got married," Doris said. "We came home and did not tell anybody. My Mother was expecting a baby (Mark Lynch) and we did not want to upset her. Bill's number had come up to go to service and we figured if we were married I could maybe go to be near where he was."
But after we got home Bill got notice that he was to stay home and farm. Bill said, "I always felt bad that I did not get to go. All my friends went."
And that was the beginning of a life farming together. Bill said they farmed with horses for silo filling and threshing, but pretty much used tractors for the rest of it. Doris worked right along side Bill in the fields and raising livestock. They were true partners.
They are active members of Salem Church of Lincoln. They are the parents of three children. Craig, and Linda Tessau, live in West Des Moines. Ryan and Rebecca Tessau live in Greensboro, North Carolina. And Rhonda and Mike Landt reside in Zimmerman, Minnesota. There are six grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren - with only three being girls.
They lived on the Tessau home place until they retired. At that time they moved a few yards to the north and lived in "the tenant house" for twenty years. It is here that many will remember the big bicycle in the front yard. Six years ago they moved into the Gladbrook Development Building apartments. Bill said, "We are not here much. We stay so busy. I take people to the doctor and go downtown to the "Man Cave" and meet with the guys and play cards."
They may have left the farm, but their green thumb came to town with them. Their patio is covered with a mass of lush blooming plants.
Doris said, "We lived the simple life. We didn't party." Bill added, "We have always stayed active."
When asked how they felt about being chosen Grand Marshalls, Bill said, "We are so excited. We wondered why we were chosen - and we still wonder. We are thankful to all for their goodness. Everybody is so nice."
The love and devotion that Bill and Doris have for one another is clearly evident. Their love shines through as clearly, after nearly 72 years, as it must have when that pair of starry-eyed 18 year olds slipped away to Missouri to marry.