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Goehring family from Delmont celebrates 3 brothers, 3 sisters

From left, LuCilla Dewald, LaVerna Simpfenderfer, Arvilla Reich, Reinhold Goehring Jr., LeRoy Goehring and in front, Jerald Goehring inside a tent outside of the farmhouse they grew up in the early 1900s. (Justin Harned/Republic)

DELMONT -- Six siblings add up to 512 years of life experiences and memories, and all of them were home for the weekend.

The Goehring family celebrated the bi-annual reunion the six siblings started nearly 25 years ago.

LuCilla Dewald, at 91 years old, leads the six siblings as the oldest in the family. LaVerna Simpfenderfer just turned 90 on July 18. Arvilla Deich, 88, was the third and last consecutive female of the six siblings and shares the same birthday as LaVerna. Reinhold Goehring Jr., 86, was the fourth child and first male.

LeRoy Goehring, 84, was the second male and Jerald Goehring, 73, was the last to be born of the six siblings.

For the first time, the six of them got the opportunity to celebrate the reunion on the farm where they grew up just five miles west of Delmont. Four generations were present as well as 100 relatives from around the country. The three-day reunion started July 17 and consisted of a barbeque with karaoke, horse drawn rides and a scavenger hunt locating historical locations in connection with family.

It is the fourth reunion in which the family has made T-shirts commemorating the six siblings, each representing an unassigned color -- green, red, blue, yellow, orange and purple.

Reinhold Sr. and Lydia (Pressler) Goehring -- parents of the siblings -- got married in 1919.

Reinhold Sr. was an entrepreneur. He was a part of 4-H, the Farmers Union and a member of the Delmont Reformed Church.

Elmer Goehring, son of Reinhold Jr., lives on the farm his great-grandfather, Michael Goehring, owned and bought for Reinhold Sr., just after he married Lydia. The couple went back to Hosmer two years later because Lydia was home sick. Reinhold Sr. worked in a flour mill in Hosmer, but the mill burned down forcing the couple to go back to their farm west of Delmont in the early 1930s.

Julie Blom, daughter of LuCilla, helped plan the reunion with Elmer, the host, along with others in the family. Elmer now farms corn, beans and wheat instead of raising cattle, which he stopped doing four years ago. Reinhold Jr. still owns the farm.

“It’s a privilege to farm something that has been in this family this long,” Elmer said. “Hopefully in time, it will be mine. It’s also a responsibility to be somebody who lives on our grandfather’s farm.”

For six siblings, jumping through the hurdles of history wasn’t always easy.

“My ancestors went through some horrific storms and tragedies and they still managed to survive,” Elmer said. “I mean, they lived in tough times compared to what we live in now. These people experienced the ’30s as very young people and they were brought up to save everything and not to be wasteful. You know it has carried on through the generations of our family.”

LuCilla LuCilla, the oldest sibling, said she is proud of her family. She said the siblings didn’t always get along, but she enjoyed looking after them all growing up on the farm. She went to school growing up. Only LuCilla and Jerald attended college. She attended Springfield Teachers College in Springfield, S.D., and taught for six years in a single classroom setting, until getting married and working around the house.

“It’s wonderful, it’s really something to have all of us together,” LuCilla said. “It’s special to be on our home place, it’s a good feeling.”

LuCilla said they had great parents growing up, teaching them to be hard workers.

LeRoy and LuCilla watch over each other now, at their nursing home in Tripp.

LaVerna LaVerna, who currently resides in Lodi, Calif., said she enjoys being back to see the area and the farm again. She said her and LuCilla were always together and that they got along really well. Even though Arvilla was younger than them, they were still close. LaVerna and LuCilla were in the same grade going to school. School was important to the Goehring family when most kids stayed home working on the farm.

Although, the six siblings don’t see each other much, they’re always thinking about each other, said LaVerna.

Arvilla Arvilla, the third-oldest daughter, said that the siblings did everything together and saw that their tasks were done correctly as a product of being raised by their parents. They all spent quite a bit of time at the Delmont Reformed Church, Arvilla said. When the family moved to Delmont, the farm was handed down to Reinhold Sr. by his father, Arvilla said.

“My sisters and I were born in Hosmer, South Dakota, and in the early ’30s when the drought was so bad, my dad lost all his cows,” Arvilla said. “Things here were a little better than in Hosmer, so he had to start all over again with cattle and everything.”

“It is just great. It’s great to be together and meet all their children,” Arvilla said. “All six of us are still here.”

Reinhold Jr. Reinhold Jr., the fourth child and first male, currently owns the family farm Elmer and his family live on, which Reinhold Jr. inherited from his father.

“I was 6 years old when we moved down here,” Reinhold Jr. said. “I’ve lived here all my life.”

Reinhold Jr. retired from commercial asphalt and paving at 80 years old. He also fought on the front lines in the Korean War. Blom said Reinhold Jr. brought home some pitchers and colored glassware for his mother, Lydia. When she died, the siblings split up all her memorabilia.

“My mother got it from her mother and now I have it,” Blom said emotionally. “It’s pretty special.”

Reinhold Jr. said he is proud of Elmer for keeping the farm in such great shape over the years, but was happy to have all his siblings at the farm again.

“It regenerates you,” Reinhold Jr. said while smiling, sipping on a cold Budweiser.

LeRoy LeRoy, the fifth child, said he and his family grew up like anyone else back in the early 1900s. LeRoy stayed plenty busy with his brother Reinhold Jr., he said.

“We herded cows all the way up and down the mile line and we had to walk,” LeRoy said.

He enjoyed running around being busy with his siblings and that he’s glad they could all be at the reunion.

“I am surprised that we kept it up like this,” LeRoy said.

LeRoy also served two years in the military during the Korean War, much like his older brother. He served in 4-H with all of his siblings taking care of the animals and working on the farm. He said Reinhold Jr. was a great brother to him and that he could tell him anything.

Jerald Jerald, the youngest, said he was closest with Reinhold and LeRoy because they were closest in age while going to school together. Growing up, Jerald helped out his mother with tasks around the farm after his siblings grew up and left the house. He was her right hand man, he said.

“It was great, I enjoyed living here,” Jerald said with a smile. “It’s a whole lot different than it is today.”

Jerald said family was always important to their parents and that they loved seeing the grandkids. Jerald recalls their vacations seeing family, which were usually in Hutchinson, Minn., Sheboygan, Wis., and Hosmer. One of Jerald’s favorite memories growing up was taking his 81-year-old grandmother on her first trip to California, he said.

Jerald, just like LuCilla, attended college. He graduated from Springfield Teachers College as an undergraduate, got his masters degree at University of South Dakota and was a specialist in education at Mankato State University in Minnesota.

Being the youngest sibling of the family, Jerald realizes he may eventually be the last family member alive.

“It’s kind of scary,” Jerald said. “It’s going to be a real tough time.”

Nonetheless, Jerald said he is just happy they can be together for this event and that they still get along well.