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RURAL GIBSON CITY — Ellen Johnson was practically at a loss for words as a group of neighbors and friends harvested her late husband’s crops last week.
“There are so many wonderful people in this world; I’m just so thankful,” she said. “We live in a wonderful community. Just wonderful people out there.”
An estimated 18 to 20 people volunteered about 4 1/2 hours of their time last Wednesday to harvest 350 acres of corn on a farm in rural Gibson City that had been operated for 20 years by the late Terry “Beaver” Johnson.
Mr. Johnson died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 64 on Feb. 18, 2012, and his friends and neighbors wanted to help out his widow.
So last spring they planted Mr. Johnson’s crops. And last week they harvested those same crops.
“He’s a great guy. Everybody just wanted to help out,” said friend Phil Tjardes of Gibson City.
In addition to last Wednesday’s work at Ford County roads 300 East and 550 North, a group of about six people harvested about 80 acres of corn on land formerly farmed by Mr. Johnson two days earlier.
A different set of volunteers was also planning to harvest Mr. Johnson’s soybeans in upcoming days as soon as they were done maturing.
“It’s just something everybody wanted to do,” Tjardes said. “Everybody really liked Terry and Ellen, and with us doing the harvest, it allowed Ellen to have a farm sale and sell all of her equipment in August — before harvest, which makes stuff bring in a little more.”
Tjardes said it was no trouble getting volunteers lined up to help.
“I work at the fertilizer plant in town, and everybody who would come through the door would ask if we were going to do anything (for the Johnsons). Finally, when you get a list of people you think, ‘Yeah, we’re definitely going to do something.’
“We didn’t recruit these people. They came knocking on the door.”
In addition to volunteers who helped with the harvest, the Bank of Gibson City supplied lunch to the workers, and Alliance Grain in Gibson City sent three grain trucks to haul away the crop on Wednesday. Heritage FS is to cook a meal for the workers when they harvest the soybeans, as well.
Helping with the harvest were: John Schertz, Rick Hoffman, Roy Huron, Al Lindsay, James Potts, Bob Buhs, Kevin Buhs, Rick Young, Brian Lange, Steve Day, Travis Reum, Roger Reum, Carl Reum, Mike Young, Tyler Young, Phil Tjardes, Kurt Tjardes, Bob Styck, Bruce Killian, Denny Jordan, Zach Bunting, Greg Kerber, Doug Bennett, Rick Berger, Donald Hanson Custom Farming, Aaron Baillie, Gary Nettleton, Gary Allen, Larry Schaefer and Kurt Sommer.