LETCHER — Row by row, a group of area farmers harvested the crops that the late Mike Goldammer left behind recently, paying tribute to the man they loved.

As the farmers spent over 10 hours in the fields on Tuesday harvesting the last of Goldammer's soybean crops, the display of generosity was a trait his loved ones said they learned from him. Those closest to Goldammer describe the longtime farmer as a generous friend, a genuine man and loving father and husband. He was 69 when he died.

Goldammer, 69, died from a heart attack on Sept. 22, and had planted those soybeans about 10 miles north of Mitchell earlier this year.

Among the group of farmers who harvested the soybean crops were his sons, Billy Goldammer and Joel Goldammer. Although it was the first year he harvested his father’s crops without the man who taught him the trade at a young age, Billy knew he was riding in the combine and guiding him along the way.

“It means a lot to see everyone come together for dad. We even had people bringing lunches out to us. It was just unreal,” said Billy Goldammer. “Dad would do anything for anybody... He was with us out there.”

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While harvesting crops for a late loved one was a meaningful new experience for some of the farmers in the group, Billy said it’s not the first time he’s taken part in such a generous act, thanks to his father.

After Billy’s uncle died a little over a decade ago, he said Mike took it upon himself to harvest the crops that were left behind. Just as his father did for his family, Billy was proud to return the favor to the man who taught him how to be a generous farmer.

Friends and family weren’t the only helpers in the fields harvesting Mike’s crops. C&B Operations in Mitchell, the John Deere dealership that Mike purchased his equipment from, also joined the group to lend a hand with the harvest.

C&B Operations' Chris Plamp brought a combine out to the fields to help with the work, and called Goldammer a loyal friend. Witnessing Mike’s friends and family band together to harvest his crops reminded Plamp of the brotherhood that’s formed among many area farmers over the years.

“Farming is a brotherhood, and growing up in this industry I got to know him well and had a lot of respect for him. I always loved how much he respected others and my family as well,” Plamp said. “I’m usually the one selling the farming equipment, but it meant a lot to be able to be in the field helping someone who was a great man.”

Rocky Wieczorek, a close friend of Mike’s and a fellow farmer, didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world on Tuesday than in his combine helping harvest one of his best friend’s crops.

“Mike was one heck of a gentleman. I thought the world of him, and he would do about anything for anybody if he could,” Wieczorek said, who was friends with Mike for over 40 years.

Billy Goldammer unloads soybeans from his combine after harvesting the field that his late father, Mike Goldammer, use to farm in Letcher. (Sam Fosness / Republic)
Billy Goldammer unloads soybeans from his combine after harvesting the field that his late father, Mike Goldammer, use to farm in Letcher. (Sam Fosness / Republic)

While the group of farmers were combining and hauling truckloads of soybeans to the grain bins, Mike’s wife, Jane Goldammer, was preparing their lunch for the day.

After enduring through the wettest year that many area farmers have ever experienced in 2019, it set the stage for one of the toughest harvest seasons last year. Despite the challenges Mother Nature dealt area farmers last year, Mike didn’t let it stop him from planting his crops in hopes they would see better days this year.

Billy said his father was “skeptical” on how the soybeans crops would pan out come harvest time. Although Mike wasn’t able to see the final results of the soybean crops he planted this year, Billy said they were some of the best soybeans he’s ever harvested. It’s only fitting that Mike’s last crops he planted before he left this Earth turned out to be some of the best that he’s ever grown.

“He was worried about the crops this year and kind of skeptical about the beans, but they were all tremendous. It’s been an overwhelmingly good year,” Billy said. “Everyone always says, ‘They are watching over you,’ and everything has been going great this year out harvesting.”

Although she’s without her husband who she spent the past 51 years of her life with for the first time during a harvest season, the generosity that the group of friends and fellow farmers showed on Tuesday in Mike’s soybeans fields was an homage to the kind of man her husband was.

“It’s so wonderful that they would do something like that. They’ve always been so close to Mike, and he would be so proud,” Jane said of her late husband. ”It’s simply amazing.”