Marsha Chartrand

Feldkamps celebrate 70 years of marriage

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Local couple will also serve as Grand Marshals of the Sesquicentennial Parade

Reno and Nancy Feldkamp were married at Tipton United Church of Christ on June 22, 1947.

It all started with a dance at Wampler’s Lake.

The popular teen destination, owned and operated by Allie Luckhardt, was a great place for kids from all around the area to have fun, hear good music, and dance on summer nights. The venue attracted a lot of great traveling big bands of the day, including Bix Biderbecke and Gene Krupa.

And it was there that Reno Feldkamp and Nancy Every met and started dating. Nancy, a graduate of Tecumseh High School, and then a student at Adrian College, met Reno, a young farmer from Manchester.

“I went to college for one year,” Nancy recalls. “I studied piano and dreamed of being a concert pianist, and then we decided to get married. Reno and I were going together already by that time, and many people of our age were getting married, so we jumped on that bandwagon.”

They married on June 22, 1947, and moved into the farm on Smythe Road, where they still reside, on New Years Day, 1950.

“The house was barely livable,” says their daughter, Kathleen Graddy (MHS, 1969), who now lives with her parents on the farm. “The seller, Phil Cerwinka, said Dad would never be able to farm the place without horses. He and Grandpa, (Anton Feldkamp) used horses a lot, but Dad didn’t need them to succeed on his own.

“We all worked on the farm–a typical farm for that era, with a 12-head herd of dairy cows, pigs, chickens, 200 sheep and one horse. Spring lambing time was delightful for us kids. We also kept busy with studying, church youth group, 4-H, band, piano and Varsity Choir.”

In addition, Reno sold seed corn for Pioneer Hi-Bred International starting in the early 1960s, then became one of the company’s youngest district sales managers, taking care of the eastern half of the state for 26 years.

“We had 36 years experience  there, 26 in sales management,” Reno says. “It is a great company, now part of DuPont. We had many fine trips to sales conferences, including Hawaii, Spain, and other locations; plus association with very good people on Michigan farms.”

Their association with Pioneer helped augment the love of travel that Reno and Nancy share.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Reno says. “We have, at one time or another, visited all 50 states.”

“We loved traveling and seeing different places, especially on the road in our motor home,” Nancy adds. “We traveled to Alaska a few different times, and really enjoyed that long trip. We took various routes each time so we saw a lot of different scenery along the way. We also enjoy looking at the architecture of different areas.”

They’ve passed on their love of travel–and the motor home as well–to another daughter, Beverly Smith (MHS, 1970) and her husband Mike, who live in Cassopolis, Mi.

Another activity that Reno and Nancy have enjoyed together is cross country skiing, which they took up in 1978 (while they were in their 50s). “We had a big blizzard that year, and our neighbor said you’d better get yourself some skis if you want to enjoy these snowstorms,” Nancy recalls. “For that reason, we didn’t think we would ever go to Florida for the winter, because we liked getting our winter exercise here. And even now, we love the looks of winter on the farm; it’s not too hard to enjoy it from inside the house.”

In the summers, Nancy kept a huge garden, and also served for many years as a 4-H leader for The Jolly Farmerettes. She was a designer and seamstress for weddings, taught piano, and is the only remaining Charter Member of the Chelsea Painters, which has given her a myriad of opportunities to showcase her artwork, both locally and nationally, since the early 1970s. She also was the organist at Sharon United Methodist Church for 20+ years, and substituted at other churches as well. Reno, meanwhile, served on the Manchester school board as well as the Sharon Township board, has been active at Sharon United Methodist Church, and helped start the Manchester Area Historical Society. Reno remains a member of the Manchester Civic Club (formerly the Optimist Club) and served in numerous offices and committees over the years. They started planting Christmas trees in the early 1960s and it became a fun business for many years, with children and eventually grandchildren helping out!

“They both have helped out with elections at the Sharon Town Hall, always voted, and often cancelled each other’s votes; however, always respectfully!” Kathleen says.

In addition to Kathleen and Beverly, the family includes Lucy, (MHS , 1967), a retired English teacher and technical writer who lives near Olympia, WA. Mark  (MHS, 1975) lives in South Haven with his partner Tracey, and is active in community theater. The “baby” of the family, Jennifer Decker (MHS, 1982), lives in Omaha with her husband Chris and their two sons. Reno and Nancy have a total of  10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Despite their far-flung family and their love of traveling, the Feldkamps love living in Manchester. “We’ve been quite a few places, and we still think it’s great here,” Reno says. “We’ve both had very good experiences here.”

They are especially pleased to be named Grand Marshals for the Sesquicentennial Parade to be held on Friday, August 4. “It should be a pretty easy job,” Reno chuckles. “Ride along, smile, and wave.”

“We feel very fortunate.”

The Feldkamp family invites the community to attend a 70th anniversary Open House for Reno and Nancy, which will be held at the Sharon United Methodist Fellowship Hall this Sunday, June 18th, 2 – 5 pm. Cake and ice cream will be served. No gifts, please! Everyone is invited to come help celebrate; Reno and Nancy and all five kids (and some of the grandchildren, too) will be glad to see classmates, family, and friends of all categories!

The family today; Sharon UMC remains an important part of Reno and Nancy’s lives. From left, Kathleen Feldkamp Graddy, Jennifer Feldkamp Decker, Reno and Nancy Feldkamp, Beverly Feldkamp Smith, Lucy Feldkamp, and Michael Feldkamp.

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