2008-11-19 / Farm & Ranch

After Gilbert farmer dies, friends harvest crop

GILBERT, Iowa (AP) - Tuesday was a day Iowa farmers don't often get blessed with in November - clear, sunny, dry and warm, with a strong breeze rattling the corn stalks. A day for short sleeves. A day to be grateful for an added measure of good weather to work in.

It seemed like a little heavenly "thank you" for the estimated 40 area residents who showed up to help harvest for the family of Gilbert farmer and seed dealer Steve Romsey, who died in October at age 60 after a monthslong struggle with infections and pneumonia. Volunteers and two Gilbert restaurants, the Suburban Café and the Open Flame Steakhouse, pitched in to help feed the crew.

In one day, they harvested 350 acres of land in Story, Boone and Hamilton counties with the help of nine combines, numerous grain haulers and other equipment.

Tuesday morning, three combines and at least a dozen people worked on one of Romsey's fields on U.S. Highway 69 north of Gilbert, and corn rapidly filled waiting trucks.

John Snyder, who farms with his father, Steve Snyder, and drove a grain hauler, said, "This is a no-brainer. This is just what farmers do. When my grandfather passed away a few years ago, they did the same thing."

Steve Romsey's close friend, Gilbert resident David Wirth, stood in the field with a camera. When asked how he felt about the community turnout to help his friend, he nodded quietly for a long moment before answering, "Real good. When they are taking time out of their own work to help, it speaks a great deal to the kind of person Steve was and the kind of people they are."

Steve's son, Beau Romsey, who had farmed with his father for 10 years before his death Oct. 18, said he and his father had done similar things for other area families and it was as if" a big huge family" was returning the favor to his own in their time of loss. He said his dad would have been pleased with the harvest.

"It's been one of the best, considering how the season started, with all the rain," he said. Steve Romsey's widow, Sharon, called the turnout "pretty humbling," but she paused and then smiled as she looked out over the sunny field.

"Isn't this amazing?" she said. "Farmers really do love farmers."

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