Mower County man honors late wife, relatives and friends by help - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Mower County man honors late wife, relatives and friends by helping Kansas fire victims

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David Schwartz David Schwartz
Schwartz's late wife, Mary, holding their granddaughter Schwartz's late wife, Mary, holding their granddaughter
Schwartz stands in front of his truck with relatives and friends (Courtesy: David Schwartz) Schwartz stands in front of his truck with relatives and friends (Courtesy: David Schwartz)
The fleet of trucks hauling the hay to Kansas (Courtesy: David Schwartz) The fleet of trucks hauling the hay to Kansas (Courtesy: David Schwartz)
Courtesy: VS Family Farms, LLC Courtesy: VS Family Farms, LLC
NEAR ROSE CREEK, Minn. (KTTC) -

He did it for his late wife, and for numerous family members and friends who have recently passed.

A Mower County man hauled bales of hay from his farm all the way to Kansas -- to help victims of wildfires. And it was the memories of those he lost that inspired him.

David Schwartz, who lives near Rose Creek, said his wife, Mary, passed away from ovarian cancer on Feb. 23, 2017. She was 56 years old. 

In addition, Schwartz has lost eight other relatives and friends since 2015. They include:

  • Karen (Hummel) Christiansen, 52, who passed away in April 2016. Christiansen was the sister of Schwartz's late wife, Mary.
  • Ryan Holdgrapher, 27, who died in a farming accident in November 2015. Holdgrapher was the father of Schwartz's granddaughter.
  • Todd Grosland, 51, who passed away in March 2016. Grosland was the cousin of Schwartz's father.
  • Michael Langan, 58, who died in a house fire in Austin in February 2017.
  • Helayma Ly Nguyen, 19, Jordan Jensen, 20, Mark Meany, 54, and Roger Mullenbach, 58.

"I think about all the nine people deceased quite often," Schwartz said.

But instead of being consumed by heartache, David chose to lend a helping hand.

"Watching the news, I started hearing about the [wild]fires in Kansas," said Schwartz. 

So Schwartz joined other farmers from southeastern Minnesota to haul more than 350 bales of hay to Kansas. The hay would go to farmers whose lands were devastated by the fires. The group brought their tractor-trailers to Austin and departed on the morning of April 3.

"I did the hay haul in memory of my wife and the other eight people also," Schwartz said.

Schwartz personally hauled 41 tons of his own hay to Beeler, Kan. And along the nearly 700-mile trip, many people showed him support.

"From truck stops giving us coffee and little candy -- a small gas station did in Kansas also. A stranger gave me a $100 bill when I unloaded the hay in Beeler," Schwartz recalled.

Schwartz's hay went to five families affected by the wildfires.

"They had lost about 30 to 40,000 acres," Schwartz recalled. "Four of those farmers lost their homes."

Schwartz has since returned to his farm near Rose Creek. As he continues to recover from the loss of his wife, family members and friends, he takes comfort in helping the Kansas fire victims recover too.

"[Mary] would be happy that I was able to help some people in need because Mary was generous with people also," Schwartz said. "I miss Mary's companionship and help on the farm. And most of all, Mary loved her family."

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