The North Bend Eagle

  Loving Cup winnersDonna and Leroy Villwok and Max and Darlene Steinbach celebrated their 61st anniversaries on Jan. 19 of this year, and shared the Loving Cup at the 2013 Old Settlers worship.

It's a tie! Couple of couples share Loving Cup

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 6/26/13

For the first time in 76 years of awarding of the Loving Cup at the Dodge County Old Settlers Picnic, there was a tie.

Couples Max and Darlene Steinbach and Leroy and Donna Villwok, all of Fremont, were both married Jan. 19, 1952, but their stories are very different.

Max Steinbach of Ames and Darlene Wesely of North Bend met when they were 13 years old because their parents were friends. Darlene, the daughter of Otto and Frances Wesely, went to North Bend High School and graduated in 1948.

She took her normal (teacher) training and started teaching school after graduation.

Max graduated the same year from Fremont High School and began farming after graduation.

They both joined the Rural Youth, a group organized by the extension office for post-high school farm kids. There would be organized dances, tours for the young adults. This is where the future Steinbachs connected. They dated for three months and then broke up. They did this twice more before they decided to make it permanent. Darlene’s mother wanted her to have a big, fancy wedding, but that was not what Darlene wanted. So on Saturday, Jan. 19, Darlene and Max, along with her sister Pat and Pat’s boyfriend (and future husband), Vern Janovec, went to Council Bluffs and were married in a Presbyterian Church before noon. They made a quick trip to Chicago for a honeymoon (Darlene had her sister tell the school board she was taking two days off). She finished out the year then stayed home with their family. They lived on an acreage by the cutoff bridge east of North Bend. They lived there for nine years and then moved to a farm east of Fremont for 34 years before retiring and moving into Fremont.

Loving Cup rideThe Steinbachs and Villwoks shared a convertable ride through the Old Settlers parade.

The Steinbachs, now 83 and 82 years old, had five children: Deborah Volnek of Valley; Mike Steinbach of Valley; Randy, who was killed in a tractor accident; Bruce Steinbach of Ames and Suzanne Study of Colorado. They now have 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

When asked their secret to a long lasting marriage, Darlene said with a laugh, “Too tired to do anything else.”

Max continued with the humor, saying it lasted because she let him be boss.

“He included me in everything,” Darlene said. “We have done everything together.”

One example of “togetherness” for the Steinbachs, important not only to their marriage but also to their family, was camping. In 1954 they bought their first camper and would go camping every year after bean walking season. Their kids went with them through high school and then grandchildren joined them. They have had seven trailers and six motor homes and still enjoy going camping.

They are following another family tradition in that Darlene’s parents won the Loving Cup in 1984 with 57 years of marriage.

Leroy and Donna Villok grew up in the Valley/Waterloo area. They met “on the streets of Waterloo,” Leroy said. She was 19 and he 26 when they married in the evening of Jan. 19, 1952, at the Elkhorn Lutheran Church.

“It rained, snowed and there was sunshine that day,” Leroy remembered.

The couple farmed, dealt in real estate and cattle, and finally settled on farming in the Craig area for 37 years. They retired and moved to Oakland for 15 years with winters in Arizona. Two years ago they moved to Fremont.

They had three children: Marcee Tomasek of Craig, Rhonda Miller of Soldier, Iowa, and Mark Villwok of Coolidge, Ariz. They now have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

When asked what made their marriage last, Donna said, “Sharing, whether it be a big job or the last bite of food.”

“You have to give a little,” Leroy said.

“It’s a lot of give and take,” Donna said in agreement.

These couples who had the same wedding date split the dozen red roses and shared the ride in the convertible in the Old Settler’s parade. Though only one couple took home the actual Loving Cup, another trophy will be ordered and delivered to the second set of winners.

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