June 6, 2012

Friends, neighbors harvest wheat after Cheney farmer’s death

What’s the measure of a life well lived?

What’s the measure of a life well lived?

One answer for Raymond Rosenhagen came Tuesday when his neighbors and family showed up to cut his wheat fields.

Rosenhagen was a lifelong farmer who died May 15 while working on his swather, getting ready for the upcoming harvest.

At 76 he had passed the main work on the farm over to his son, Mark, but was still active in the operation.

Rosenhagen left a pretty big legacy over the decades: serving on the Cheney school board, the township board, the bank board, the farm bureau board, the co-op board, his church board.

They came out of respect for his father, Mark Rosenhagen said.

His father wasn’t a showy guy, said Rosenhagen. He was solid, dependable, someone who would help others in need. He had built up a lot of loyalty over the years.

“He didn’t go to the cafe and sit and talk,” Mark Rosenhagen said. “He just tried to be nice to people.”

Mick Rausch, who contributed a son and a combine to the effort, had known Rosenhagen for 33 years. Rosenhagen was a longtime dairyman and would occasionally milk Rausch’s cows to give him a chance to watch his boys’ baseball games.

“He was just a super-nice guy,” Rausch said.

When his friends realized that the family would be going through harvest without Raymond Rosenhagen for the first time, they called and told him they’d come over and help.

Mark Rosenhagen told them he would take care of it; they had their own fields to cut. They insisted.

“They wouldn’t take no for an answer,” he said.

By 1 p.m., as the heat finally dried out the fields, combines started rumbling down the dead-end dirt road between Garden Plain and Cheney toward several of Rosenhagen’s fields.

Within an hour, four combines were cutting in adjoining fields, and a grain cart and two semis were loading wheat.

Mark Rosenhagen marveled at those who had taken off work or taken off from their own harvest to help.

“It’s just what neighbors do,” he said.

The work was being coordinated by his cousin, Tim. The volunteers would cut hard for a day and see how far they could get, he said.

Richard Rosenhagen, Raymond’s brother, was watching the scene. His brother’s death had been a shock, but it was just one of those things, he said.

Tuesday, he said, shows that his brother left something behind: people who cared about him.

“The satisfaction of helping out,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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