Robert W. Yantz (Bob) was born July 26th, 1927 on the Yantz family farm located southeast of Daykin. His parents were William and Caroline (Marschman) Yantz. Robert was baptized at the Saint John Lutheran church in Daykin on August 21, 1927. Robert attended grade school at the “Village View” (District 54) country schoolhouse that was located near the family farm. Robert was confirmed with the 1942 Class of confirmands in the Saint John Lutheran church. He graduated from Daykin High School in 1945.
In response to the Korean Conflict, Robert was drafted into military service, and began active duty with the US Army in March of 1951. Basic Training was conducted at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Robert would often carpool with other Jefferson County conscripts when Leave was permitted, one of whom was Marvin Seggerman. At the Seggerman family farm, Robert met the love of his life, Lois Seggerman. Robert was soon deployed to Korea, and there, was pressed into duty as a field medic. The Korean Conflict had devolved into a “war of attrition” by June of 1951, with horrendous losses occurring on both sides. After enduring months of action serving at the line of the “stalemate”, Robert was transferred to Geoje island (also known as “Koje-do”) off the UN-controlled Korean coastline that was used to detain Chinese and North Korean POWs. His Unit was eventually designated “KCOMZ” for the “Korean Communications Zone”, which was formally created in August, 1952. Corporal Yantz received an Honorable Discharge from the US Army in March of 1953.
Robert and Lois were joined in marriage on May 2nd, 1954, forming a bond that was not broken until Lois passed on January 13th 2020. Robert became a member of the First United Presbyterian Church in 1954, and faithfully served as both a Deacon and as an Elder whenever called upon. The young couple made their life together on the Yantz family farm, where they tended to dairy cattle, chickens and hogs, along with the related row crop and hay farming activities. Robert and Lois were a wonderful team, sharing all the good times and bad times with equal love and support. They welcomed their first child, Lori, on October 29th, 1956. A second child, Ronald, was born January 15th, 1960.
Robert served the local Daykin community as a member of the Daykin Post of the American Legion, and as a Board Member of the Farmers Cooperative. Robert was also the President of the District 72 School when the difficult decision to consolidate was being deliberated and settled.
After the children had grown to teenagers, and had demonstrated they could handle the dairy operation with minimal outside help, Robert and Lois went on several vacation trips together. Most of these trips were sponsored by the Fairbury State Bank’s “Good Neighbors Club”. Among their most memorable were a trip to Alaska and rafting down the Colorado River. They thoroughly enjoyed going on trips with the friends they had made via the Club. Robert and Lois also enjoyed Square Dancing as members of the Geneva Curly Q’s, with many winter weekends seeing them carpooling with neighbors and friends to a nearby square dance.
Robert was a life-long farmer who witnessed many important transitions in farming practices. He initially helped his father farm with horses and mules, and experienced the transition to mechanized ‘horsepower’ when a Farmall Regular was purchased. That was followed by Farmall H’s and 350 Diesels as the IH brand grew and developed ‘live’ hydraulics and PTO. A narrow-front 706 Diesel came next, but his favorite was a wide-front 756 Diesel, which was worked for many years as the primary tillage tractor, planter tractor, haying tractor, silage chopping tractor and general chore tractor. As the farm grew, a 966 was added to take over the more demanding tasks. His first tractor with an air-conditioned and heated cab was a 1086. During transitions, a 656 Hydrostat Diesel that was previously owned by his Brother-in-Law Alfred Schoen was purchased, which soon became a favorite for haying and loader chores. An 856 that was previously owned by his Brother-in-Law Marvin Seggerman was also purchased to augment the workload. All of Bob’s tractors and equipment received diligent care/maintenance as a ‘rule’, and Bob knew his relatives were equally diligent, giving him confidence in the purchase of these used tractors.
Robert patiently taught Ron to safely operate the 350 Diesel and the 706, such that neighbors often teased Robert about who his ‘hired man’ was. Lori was often Robert’s tractor driver when hay baling tasks were being conducted, since she was also a very good operator of the 706. Both children eagerly helped their Daddy. When the 656, 756, 856, 966 and 1086 were incorporated into the operation, both Robert and Ron could handle all of the various tasks with ease. Lori and Lois would also pitch in when the busy times occurred, as they were willing and able to operate any of these tractors. Flood irrigation was incorporated in 1968, with a transition to center pivots beginning in 1990. Many hot summers were spent laying out flood irrigation pipes and minding the gated pipe openings. The entire family participated in these strenuous activities, which was a driving factor in Ron’s purchase of the first center pivot. Reduced tillage and no-till were incorporated as the acres were converted to pivot irrigation. Bob scoured farming magazines for articles and tips that he found applicable to his operation, and was an avid reader of various agricultural publications.
After Ron graduated engineering college in 1982, and had a steady off-farm job, he began making equipment purchases jointly with Robert. One of their first joint purchases was a 1986 New Holland TR-86 combine, which is still in use today. In fact, Robert operated that combine at times during corn harvest up until 2022. The photo on the bulletin shows how happy Bob was to operate his combine during the 2021 corn harvest. Over the subsequent years, Robert operated Ron’s International 3488 Hydro, Case-IH 5120 MFD, Case-IH 7120 MFD, and Case-IH 7110 MFD. Even with the transition to no-till, there were times tillage was necessary. Bob eagerly attended to these tillage tasks, which were made easier for him by the addition of the Magnum tractors with their three-step cab access. Bob even witnessed the marvel of Auto-Steer guidance systems, which is a tremendous leap from the days of farming with horses.
However, horses were always important to Robert, and the farm was never without at least one horse. Robert was a member of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Posse, riding in numerous parades and joining the Posse and other pleasure horse groups on various trail rides. Robert even raced a leg for the Pony Express Centennial re-creation of the route through Jefferson County.
Robert and Lois moved to Fairbury in 1992, and, after her job at Swingsters ended, they both began doing part time custodial work at Maatsch’s Food Shop. This was usually accompanied by them having enjoyable conversations with many of the customers. As their health began to decline, they stopped working, and eventually moved into Cedarwood Assisted Living. They always had a companion dog with them. Skipper moved with them from the farm to their home on H street. Bandit lived with them on H street, and Lucky moved into Cedarwood with them. Cedarwood’s pet policy was probably the ‘deciding factor’ in their acceptance of the move to Assisted Living. Their time at Cedarwood was joyous, with activities with many new friends, good entertainment, and the wonderful care provided by the staff.
Many of their treasured mementos and small personal items were gathered and assembled into beautiful shadow boxes by their Daughter-in-Law, Jlee. These heirlooms can be safely viewed in these enclosed boxes that Bob and Lois were quite fond of.
The words that best describe Bob are; loyal, devoted, beloved and kind. He often expressed his appreciation for the care given at Cedarwood. He often expressed his love and appreciation of his family. His laugh and sense of humor were also precious. He is, and will be, greatly missed.
Robert was preceded in death by his loving wife, Lois, his parents William and Lena Yantz, and his Brother-in-Law Vernon Maske. Robert was also preceded in death by Lois’s family members, including Henry and Rena Seggerman, Marvin and Eleanor Seggerman, and Alfred and Lila Schoen. Robert is survived by his children, Lori and Ron, as well as by five grandchildren, six great Grandchildren, his sister Naomi Maske, and by Nephews and Nieces from both sides of the family.