Sunday, August 14, 2022
Richard Staub, World War II Army vet, and long-time West Concord farmer.

Chance encounter in Germany changes Staub’s life

(Editor’s Note: Richard Staub was a longtime area farmer who now lives in Rochester. Born in German his family came to the United States after World War I and later returned to Germany as a soldier in World

War II. In Part One, Wayne Hendrickson tells Staub’s story from his early childhood in Germany, move to the U.S., and return to Germany as a soldier. This week his story continues in Germany during the war.)

While in Germany Richard was very near the town where he was born and he was able to stop by and visit his grandmother

When Richard was driving near a small town in Germany, he saw two young ladies walking along the road. Since German citizens could not have vehicles, he stopped and asked them if he could take them to where they were going. At first, they refused, but one girl could speak English and she convinced the other saying there were two of them and he was alone so they could handle him. They didn’t realize Richard could also understand German when they were talking to each other in German while riding along. They were heading out to a farm area that one of the girl’s father managed, to pick up paperwork to prove they owned the property to the government. He told them he would wait for them to find what they needed and then he brought them back to their homes.

During this time Richard’s future wife was told by her father that she and her mother needed to go stay at the farm as he was being sent to a prison camp for several months and they would be safe there.

Later Richard’s buddy had a jeep available so he went out to see her again. Finally, on their third meeting, he told Gisela he could speak German. He was able to borrow the jeep on more occasions and after six months they talked about marriage. Her mother would tell Richard that he should return to the USA and see his mother.

When he told her he was going to bring Gisela along with him when he returned home, she was not excited to hear about this.

Instead of going back to the USA after the war ended in Europe, Richard found a job with the Army Exchange Service for about a year. Gisela knew a Lithuanian pastor that could marry them even though they could still not return as a couple until they received the proper paperwork from the U.S. government. She stayed with an uncle in Germany for several months and the couple’s first son was born in Germany.

Finally, they were able to leave for the United States aboard a plane from Frankfurt, along with 24 passengers with stops at Grand Island, Newfoundland, and they arrived in New York on Memorial Day 1947. While they were at his parent’s home in Chicago, Richard asked his wife if she wanted to live in Chicago or go to the farm at West Concord.

She said, “let’s go to Minnesota” and live there. The farm was rented out that year when he and Gisela packed up and drove his 1929 Model A and they arrived in Minnesota in September. They drove that Model A for another three years until he bought a Hudson from the local West

Concord dealer and his first tractor was a Minneapolis Moline from the same dealer.

Even though Richard never planned on farming, since he thought he would work at the Owatonna Tool Company, they decided to give it a try by buying a few chickens and a cow from a neighbor. Richard thought they never could keep that barn warm with just one cow so eventually, they milked 24 cows for about 10 years.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. To subscribe, please call (507)634-7503.


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