Francis "Pat" Wolrab
Francis "Pat" Wolrab, 100, longtime resident and farmer in the Mount Vernon, Iowa, community, died peacefully on Oct. 1, 2018, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from complications of a fall. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mount Vernon, where there will be a time of visitation from 10 to 11 a.m. A private family inurnment will take place at the Mount Vernon Cemetery.
Francis is survived by his wife, Elva; children, Vicky (Michael) Petruzziello, Jacklyn Moore, Gail Logan, Glen Wolrab, Janette Blinks and Jill (Bill) Clark; 16 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchilden; and cousins, nieces and nephews.
Francis was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Anna; brother, Milo; sister, Adeline; and grandson, Thomas William.
Francis was born May 10, 1918, in Mount Vernon, Iowa, the son of Frank J. and Anna (Topinka) Wolrab. He graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1936. He met Elva Hintz and they married in 1947. They celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary and Francis' 100th birthday earlier this year.
Francis spent his career in agriculture. At age 10, his father, Frank, taught him to pick corn and love it. He would handpick corn on the way to and from school, following wagon tracks to make his way home in the dark.
He and his dad would sometimes pick 200 bushels of corn a day. The corn was hand-planted, using a team of two horses.
Francis was one of the best at his craft. In 1945, he was named winner of a national contest for growers of white corn, sponsored by the American Corn Millers Federation of Chicago. Francis produced 2,729 bushels of a Reid white hybrid at a time when World War II demand for white corn increased beyond the supply. The win put Francis into the "National 200 Club" for yielding 200 bushels-per-acre. Through the years, a talking point around Mount Vernon was "how straight the rows were planted" in fields that Francis farmed, another skill that he learned from his father.
Early in his career, Francis fed cattle, once shipping a record 42 cattle carloads to the Chicago markets in one year. Francis was especially proud that he pioneered the drying of newly harvested, wet shelled corn in Iowa in the early 1960s. People came for miles to see the corn-drying operation work. He also pioneered the growing of soybeans in Iowa. He traveled to Louisiana to tour the soybean farming operation of a friend, in anticipation of bringing a "southern crop" to a Midwestern state and successfully growing it. And that he did.
Francis loved the great outdoors. He learned to trap and sell furs by the age of 12. He fished at Palisades State Park. He hunted deer, squirrel, rabbit and pheasant to put food on the table for his growing family. But he most loved hunting for the elusive morel mushrooms, taking his children and grandchildren with him and teaching them to look under rough-barked red elm trees growing on southeastern hillsides of Linn County. His goal was always the same: "Find them first."
Francis loved people. In his retirement years, he bought and sold guns at local gun shows and made lifelong friends along the way. He grew magnificent vegetable gardens, from which he generously shared his bounty with friends and neighbors. One year, he delivered a bumper crop of muskmelons to the local nursing home to help feed residents there.
Francis led an extraordinarily long life in good health, living on the Wolrab family farm to the very end. He was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend to many. He will be deeply missed by his family and all who knew and loved him.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Francis' name to St. Paul Lutheran Church, Mount Vernon, Iowa, or to "The Lutheran Hour."
Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.broshchapel.com.