Meet Wally: Passionate Farmer and Devoted Family Man


For this month’s entry of sharing our Residents’ inspiring stories we turn our attention to our very own centenarian, Walter, better known as Wally. Community Relations Manager Kate and I met with 3 of Wally’s 4 children, Vern, Karen, and Joan to share fond memories and fun facts. Read on below to learn more about a revered member of Ringwood’s community for many years.

Resident Wally: Passionate Farmer and Devoted Family Man

Family History: Deep Roots

Wally was born in 1922 and was one of 12 siblings. His ancestors had emigrated from Germany in the 1830s. His grandfather was a farmer and the building he used as a creamery is still around today. Farming back then looked a little different; there was no electricity and the equipment was all pulled by horses. Wally met his wife Florence at a church dance in his 20s. Their four children still all reside within seven miles of each other. His family has now grown to include 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.


Farm Life: The Best Day is any Day it Rains

Wally bought his farm in 1956. He and Florence renovated the house on the land into a beautiful space to raise their family and work the farm. The farm was full of crops, hogs, cows, and one playful goat named Nanny. Every morning and every night the cows would need to be milked and they would know when it was time for Wally to come out and get them. Wally was always happiest when it had just rained for the crops. His first tractor was a 1947 red Farmal bought from the General Store. The family had it restored and still have it today. Along with his red Farmal, he also loved his green Gator. Wally’s last farm sale was on February 6th, 2006. He was 83.

Cool Grandpa: Tractor Rides and Bus Stop Buddy

Besides his prized farm, the thing Wally loved most is spending time with his grandkids and great grandchildren. Karen remembers fondly of Wally and her oldest daughter planting a little maple sapling together. That tree still stands today. He also made sure to walk his grandchildren to the bus stop every day. At Easter, the whole family would always get together and all the kids would pile into the wagon for tractor rides around the farm. Another favorite memory is when Wally traveled to China and brought back little purses for all of his granddaughters to use one day at their weddings.


Local Legend: An Integral Part of the Ringwood Community

Wally’s unofficial role as “the patriarch of the farmers” in the Ringwood area is well deserved. Wally always believed in the importance of being “a helping hand” in the community. Vern, Karen, and Joan recall a time when one of the other local farmers was injured, Wally organized all the other farmers to help complete the harvest in time. Wally also worked helping plow for the McHenry County Roads district after he sold the cows on the farm. For Wally’s 100th birthday, over 200 people showed up at the Rusty Nail to celebrate his life-long accomplishments. Many of his godchildren flew in from all over the country to be there to celebrate.


Karen, Joan, and Vern shared several fun facts about Wally as well as lessons he had taught them. Below are some of their highlights:


Wally’s words of Wisdom:

  1. Work hard for great rewards
  2. Don’t buy something unless you have the money
  3. If you don’t have a good thing to say, say nothing at all


Wally’s favorite things:

Pets he’s had:

Daisy the dog: Vern described her as “a cross between a Jack-Russell  and a tornado”

George: Joan remembers how they always had birds growing up, every single one was named George

Favorite Meal:

Pork roast, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and Florence’s strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Favorite Book:

The World Book Encyclopedia: Karen recounts how “inquisitive” Wally always was and how he read the entire thing from cover to cover, memorizing all sorts of topics by heart

Favorite Places he’s traveled:

Hawaii: He made the front page for attending the farm show in Hawaii

Ireland: He and his siblings took a memorable trip for a cousin’s wedding

Words to Describe Wally if Karen, Joan, and Vern each had to pick one:

  1. Commitment: He would always make time for his daughters. He would come in to play Cooties every day no matter how busy he was
  2. Loyalty: He was very loyal to his farm and his family
  3. Farmer: Wally's happiest days were “any day he was farming”

Thank you to Karen, Joan, and Vern for taking the time to talk about a local farming legacy.



  1. Missy Robel on June 1, 2023 at 7:20 am

    Such an incredible man and amazing family ????

  2. Kevin Bauer on June 1, 2023 at 7:41 am

    That was was a very inspiring story Wally had lunch with our group for many years

  3. Rose on June 1, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    God Has Blessed you Wally xoxo

  4. Glen and Barb Weidner on June 2, 2023 at 6:38 am

    This is a wonderful article of an amazing man. So many fond memories! Love you Uncle Walter!

  5. Bob and Donna Dobbertin on June 3, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    Our favorite farmer. Beloved by so many. His stories, his sharing, his presence so very cherished. We are blessed to know and live him.

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