ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Weldon Thalacker 86 years old , born on October 19, 1933 and passed away on March 17, 2020. We will remember him forever.
Posted by Marie Sawyer on March 23, 2020
To Nancy and the rest of the family, I am looking at these pictures and see such happy people doing exciting things! What a wonderful tribute to Weldon. I am so sorry that you have lost such a vital part of your lives, but from the looks of it all, you have many, many memories that will last the rest them! Marie Johns Sawyer
Posted by Brad Thalacker on March 22, 2020
                       You Will Be Missed
                         Rest in Peace

An 86 year old man, born into this world in 1933, during the depths of the Great Depression, just died out of it on March 17th of this year.
He happened to be my father.
Upon reflection of such a long life, it seems appropriate for a son - well over the age of 60 years himself - to gain further self-perspective about life, and guidance for the remainder of his own life.
As the "Greatest Generation" are mostly gone now, and the "Silent Generation" passing at an ever increasing rate, I am reminded about the troubled world they were born into and how little they had in the way of material possession or security. There was, indeed, a sense of hopelessness permeating much of America.
The struggles and hardships they endured through the 1930's - lost farms, unemployment, relief, displacement, followed by a world at war with gold stars in neighbors' windows, shortages and rationing - developed strengths in Dad that would serve him well through the rest of his life.
I believe Dad was born to succeed. He had that "special something" about him. His natural intelligence, combined with living through these worldwide conditions, shaped his character, producing a mentally strong, resilient and adaptable person. He then began his adult life with all the necessary qualities to be successful in a rapidly growing nation.
I had the perfect teacher for my formative years. He was highly intelligent, without condescension.  He was honest, and valuing his own personal integrity, preferred closing business deals with just a handshake. He was witty, always enjoying a good joke, gregarious, ambitious, capable, fair-minded, generous, loving, gentle and dependable. He was a "do unto others..." kind of guy ; he had a wisdom that enabled him to help me with any problem I brought to him. He was my rock.
Dad, you gave me all the tools I would need to navigate through the changing currents, the muddied waters, the unexpected eddies and the vicissitudes that visit everyone's life.
Paling in comparison, each generation is presented with their own challenges. As Dad taught me, it wasn't the size of the challenge, but how your respond to it, that will define your character.
You taught me to work hard, play fair, treat all people with dignity, live modestly, save for a rainy day and take good care of my wife. I hope you had been satisfied with the man I became - the man you made.
Dad certainly knew life could be a constant struggle, but he chose to live his as if everyday was a gift. Because of him, I choose to do the same, and give thanks, everyday, for "the time and the place."
All these gifts, bestowed upon us, by God and our parents, make me the richest man in the world.
I will mourn his passing, just as I do Mom's, everyday, for the rest of my life, and will cherish the love that such a loving mother and father had given to their children and family.
May God rest and bless your soul, and re-unite you with Mom and the family and friends that have passed before you.
Graciela and I love you with all of our hearts and will miss your worldly presence, but you will always reside in our hearts and minds. You have been one of our greatest blessings.
Goodbye for now.

Your loving son,
Bradley John Thalacker,
Son of Weldon Arden Thalacker
Grandson of Lester Hermann Thalacker
Great grandson of Albert Thalacker
Great, great grandson of Hermann Thalacker
Great, great, great grandson of Earnest Thalacker



Posted by David McLaughlin on March 21, 2020
As many of us look back on our careers in the construction industry, a few individuals stand out as leaders and mentors. Weldon was one such person who shaped many lives both professionally and personally. The industry has lost an exceptional man. From his days at Eagle Iron Works to his sales management leadership at Cedarapids Inc., Weldon touched many lives throughout his journey in such a positive way. 
Posted by Mike Thalacker on March 19, 2020
What a super guy!  Of course, I saw my Uncle Wink (as we knew him then) pretty much only on vacations /holidays, but I don’t think I ever saw him in less than a positive mood. Gregarious, fun, engaging - that was my Uncle Wink. Unfortunately, had not seen him in some time, but it is funny how often food, and drink, becomes part of the connection to memories of people in our lives. I have duly noted the references to margaritas already mentioned, so won’t go there. For me, it was his eagerness to get up early to make breakfast. In particular, omelets. This has been something I carried with me into my own family. I enjoy doing it on weekends, and I enjoy remembering my uncle when I do so. Be thou at peace, Uncle Wink. 
Posted by Alora Clark on March 18, 2020
We love you, Grandpa!! You were the best Grandpa anyone could ask for. I will always remember how you were willing to show up at the drop of a hat to help build props for school plays and science projects (you always did love a project!). 

I'll cherish our rides together on the bicycle built for two, since you even built a footrest for me when my legs were too short to reach the pedals and carried me around. I loved those rides on the island together, usually to get ice cream or hot dogs, and many rounds of putt-putt.

I will keep thinking of you every day when walking our dog, since you used to always say it was like reading the newspaper for them. We will keep trying to figure out your secret rib recipe, but know they will never taste the same without you here. Partially because "a bottle of ketchup and a bag of sugar" aren't exact measurement these days. We miss you!
Posted by Evelyn Lopater on March 18, 2020
You were the most fun Grandpa! I will miss all the adventures and that “magic knife” that could open literally anything. I know you’re no longer in pain and finally reunited with Grandma—probably riding your bicycle built for two to find the perfect margarita.
Cheers! ❤️

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Marie Sawyer on March 23, 2020
To Nancy and the rest of the family, I am looking at these pictures and see such happy people doing exciting things! What a wonderful tribute to Weldon. I am so sorry that you have lost such a vital part of your lives, but from the looks of it all, you have many, many memories that will last the rest them! Marie Johns Sawyer
Posted by Brad Thalacker on March 22, 2020
                       You Will Be Missed
                         Rest in Peace

An 86 year old man, born into this world in 1933, during the depths of the Great Depression, just died out of it on March 17th of this year.
He happened to be my father.
Upon reflection of such a long life, it seems appropriate for a son - well over the age of 60 years himself - to gain further self-perspective about life, and guidance for the remainder of his own life.
As the "Greatest Generation" are mostly gone now, and the "Silent Generation" passing at an ever increasing rate, I am reminded about the troubled world they were born into and how little they had in the way of material possession or security. There was, indeed, a sense of hopelessness permeating much of America.
The struggles and hardships they endured through the 1930's - lost farms, unemployment, relief, displacement, followed by a world at war with gold stars in neighbors' windows, shortages and rationing - developed strengths in Dad that would serve him well through the rest of his life.
I believe Dad was born to succeed. He had that "special something" about him. His natural intelligence, combined with living through these worldwide conditions, shaped his character, producing a mentally strong, resilient and adaptable person. He then began his adult life with all the necessary qualities to be successful in a rapidly growing nation.
I had the perfect teacher for my formative years. He was highly intelligent, without condescension.  He was honest, and valuing his own personal integrity, preferred closing business deals with just a handshake. He was witty, always enjoying a good joke, gregarious, ambitious, capable, fair-minded, generous, loving, gentle and dependable. He was a "do unto others..." kind of guy ; he had a wisdom that enabled him to help me with any problem I brought to him. He was my rock.
Dad, you gave me all the tools I would need to navigate through the changing currents, the muddied waters, the unexpected eddies and the vicissitudes that visit everyone's life.
Paling in comparison, each generation is presented with their own challenges. As Dad taught me, it wasn't the size of the challenge, but how your respond to it, that will define your character.
You taught me to work hard, play fair, treat all people with dignity, live modestly, save for a rainy day and take good care of my wife. I hope you had been satisfied with the man I became - the man you made.
Dad certainly knew life could be a constant struggle, but he chose to live his as if everyday was a gift. Because of him, I choose to do the same, and give thanks, everyday, for "the time and the place."
All these gifts, bestowed upon us, by God and our parents, make me the richest man in the world.
I will mourn his passing, just as I do Mom's, everyday, for the rest of my life, and will cherish the love that such a loving mother and father had given to their children and family.
May God rest and bless your soul, and re-unite you with Mom and the family and friends that have passed before you.
Graciela and I love you with all of our hearts and will miss your worldly presence, but you will always reside in our hearts and minds. You have been one of our greatest blessings.
Goodbye for now.

Your loving son,
Bradley John Thalacker,
Son of Weldon Arden Thalacker
Grandson of Lester Hermann Thalacker
Great grandson of Albert Thalacker
Great, great grandson of Hermann Thalacker
Great, great, great grandson of Earnest Thalacker



Posted by David McLaughlin on March 21, 2020
As many of us look back on our careers in the construction industry, a few individuals stand out as leaders and mentors. Weldon was one such person who shaped many lives both professionally and personally. The industry has lost an exceptional man. From his days at Eagle Iron Works to his sales management leadership at Cedarapids Inc., Weldon touched many lives throughout his journey in such a positive way. 
his Life

Brief Life History

Weldon graduated from Ottumwa High School in Iowa in 1951, and from there went on to be Letterman and Captain of the Iowa State University Cyclones Football team (53', 54' 55'). Before graduating from ISU in 1955, he married Mary Marguerite "Marti" Larson (1933-1998) with whom he had 3 wonderful children, Blake (1956), Bradley (1957) and Jill (1959). After Marti's passing in 1998, Weldon married the lovely Nancy Hancock (Nana to some), who would be with him until the very end when he made his way to heaven on March 17th, 2020 after a two and a half year battle with Parkinsonism.
He was predeceased by his parents Lester and Gladys; first wife of 42 years, Mary Marguerite "Marti", and older brother Robert. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Hancock-Thalacker of 20 years, younger brother Bruce Thalacker and wife Mary; children Blake Thalacker and wife Gail Thalacker, Bradley Thalacker and wife Graciela Thalacker and Jill Clark; grandchildren Victoria Clark and husband Micheal Araas, Evelyn Clark Lopater and husband Zachary Lopater, Alora Clark, Kira Thalacker, and Erin Thalacker who all admire and love him dearly, along with his great grandson Archer Clark Araas.
Recent stories

No Instant Replay in 1952 (From Dad's Memoirs)

Shared by Brad Thalacker on March 20, 2020
College football was a tough sport back in the 1950's. Dad prided himself at having developed a quick forearm hit to the side of the head that had a devastating effect on both offensive lineman and backs. It was a tough style of play that characterized American football in the 50's, 60's and 70's. 
Play of that nature would draw penalties today, and with the advent of slow motion replay, would be played over and over, for all to see.
But as life would have it, "what goes around, comes around", so here is another excerpt from his memoirs:

"The fall football season of 1952 turned out to be better than expected. The first team defensive end broke his shoulder in the second game and I moved up to the first team the rest of the year. It must have been noticed by the Oklahoma fullback (Buck McPhail) that I was working him over pretty good with my forearm hit, because in one of the pile-ups, an Oklahoma guard paid me back with a similar hit and broke my nose and the top of two molars."

I don't think Dad ever weighed much more than 190-195 pounds when he was playing college football - small by today's standards, but boy, was he ever game!

Helping to Build a Strong America (Late 1950's thru Mid 1990's) From Dad's Memoirs

Shared by Brad Thalacker on March 20, 2020
When I graduated in 1955, with a degree in mechanical engineering, the job market was terrific. My grades had been good and you could get as many job offers as you wanted. I went on a half dozen interview trips, including U.S. Steel in Gary, IN, and visited several other companies in the area.
I actually made a few dollars on these interviews, since I was able to charge all or them my transportation expenses from Ames.
I finally had decided to accept a job in St. Louis, with a utility company at $450 a month, but the ISU football coach called me in one day and said he had an alumni who was interested in hiring me. That's how I met the owner of Eagle Iron Works.
I went to Des Moines for an interview where I was given a personal plant tour the by the owner who said there was a good future for this little company because of the new interstate highway program. He offered me $500 a month and I jumped at it.
I had already received my draft notice and they gave me 3 months to get started on a job before I had to report, so we moved to Des Moines and rented an upstairs apartment, with no a/c, for the three months.
Two years later, when we returned to Des Moines from El Paso, Blake was was a year old and Marti was pregnant with Bradley. 
We rented a house on 51st St., in Des Moines, and I went back to work in the EIW engineering department.
I really wasn't very good at it, but they were patient with me and I progressed. I got pretty bored sitting at the drafting table, and after a few years, one of the 4 regional salesman had died, whose territory was everything west of the Mississippi River and western Canada. They asked me if I wanted the job,and I jumped at it.
My training consisted of reading file correspondences, of the other 3 salesman, and writing follow-up letters concerning technical issues, equipment specifications, or quotation status.
It was very effective training.
They finally decided I was ready to "sink or swim." The assistant sales manager took me on two sales trip to show me the ropes, and after that, I was on my own. 
We sold through dealers, most of who knew more about the product than I did, but they also were patient with me, and it paid off for everyone. I turned out to be the highest producing salesman in the company.
I sold to every company, large or small, and got to be known as the guy to call if you had any problems with your construction sand. My phone rang constantly, when in the office, and I traveled 150-160 days a year-usually two weeks at a time.
My customers were my best friends, and I made or saved a lot of money for them.They treated me like royalty and would even buy me lunch when I came on a sales call. I was treated more like a consultant when I visited. One engineering firm told me,"If you don't know your diamonds, you better know your jeweler."
I sold equipment on a dozen or more small dams and a couple of very large dams, including Portage Mountain Dam in northern British Columbia and the Guri Dam in Venezuela.
Every large company on the west coast was a customer including Conrock, the largest producers in LA, and Kaiser Sand and Gravel in San Francisco. (Herb Harger, president of Conrock still sends me a Christmas card every year.) Back when $1 was a lot of money, I sold a million dollars worth of equipment for the Alaskan pipeline (highway) project.

                                                   International Sales
EIW had a very large distribution organization in Europe. The only one who sold anything though, was SYSCOM in Holland. In the early 1960's, Harry Van Alkemade brought a Swiss construction project to Des Moines and I sold them an auto-spin sand classifying system.
One of the conditions of the sale as that I would have to go overseas when the construction of a small dam near Brig, Switzerland began.
This was our first sale in Europe, of an auto-spin system,and as it worked perfectly, it eventually led us to a lot more business.
While there, my boss Clair Laird, who had flown with the French Escadrille in WW1, suggested I visit dealers in France and Spain. While in Paris, I had Marti fly over and we spent a week there and visited Normandy, where her brother (Robert Larson) was killed (1944). His body never recovered.
Through Brad's research, we learned that he was reported MIA, presumed dead,near Hill 55 in Normandy, about 30 days after the invasion. His mortar squad apparently taking a direct hit from advancing German artillery, as the Germans attempted to break the advance and push the Allies back off the beach.
I was always fortunate in my travels, to make friends, who were excellent tour guides, and would take time to show me many historical spots.
I loved the museums in Europe and visited many of the large ones such as Rijks museum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Madrid.
Harry Van Alkemade's son, Gerry, was my age, and we grew to be great friends. He merged his company with a German company headed by Manfred Brauer, and the three of us sold many large installations all over western Europe- including a large Irish cement plant in Drogheda, Ireland.I have pleasant memories of the good times we had together with the Irishman, including their visit to Des Moines and dinner out at our house on NW Beaver Drive.

                                                             Venezuela
Through a consulting engineering friend in the state of Washington, I sold some equipment in Venezuela. Chuck Ferris had the the plant contract for the Guri Dam (a large project in central Venezuela.)
Chuck was the one who always said "If you don't know your diamonds,you better know your jeweler."  Again, I had a commitment to visit after it was operating.
By happenstance, I met another friend/customer in Venezuela had sent response to an ad we ran in "Rock Products" (a trade publication of the industry).
EIW received an inquiry from a company in Venezuela that looked promising and Clair Laird thought I should go down and explore the market. The inquiry was from a Venezuelan who owned a sand and gravel operation, very close to the Columbia border.
I responded that I was going to be down in Caracas  to check on some equipment at the Guri dam and perhaps we could get together.
Phillips was about my age and he met me in Caracas and drove me over to his hacienda, west of Caracas, near the Columbian border. Phillips was the son of a general, now dead, who had helped put one of the dictators of Venezuela in power. He had inherited a very large ranch in the interim and started a sand & gravel & stone company.
It was an experience riding through the countryside. The road was first class like our interstate, but with toll booths. each toll booth was manned with soldiers armed with sub-machine guns.
The Hacienda was a walled enclosure about a block square.  The big steel main gate was guarded by 2 men with shotguns who let us in.  Phillips explained that hand guns were outlawed, so guards carried shotguns.  The wall served as a back wall for the servants and workers, and with 3 walls added to it, made individual houses.  The main house set in the center was "U" shaped with the balloon of the "U" partially open to a formal flower garden and the closed end was an open air dining area.  The weather was mild and the setting, just beautiful. I spent a couple of days with Phillips looking over his complete ranch.
I did help Phillips with some problems and sold him some equipment, and we became lifelong friends.He always came by at conventions to tell me "hello."

All in all, it was a very interesting life for an Iowa farm boy.  It far exceeded any dreams I had for my life.  I made great friends all over the world.
It had been a great experience for an old Iowa boy to travel and see the world, but the problems of customers were repetitious.

One day I received a call from an old ISU friend, Vern Schimper.  Vern was a supervisor up at CRI.  EIW and CRI had a lot of common distributors, so we we had stayed connected over the years.  Vern told me that Howard Slife, the current VP of Sales was retiring and they would like to talk to me and see if I was interested in being his replacement.
Bottom line, I went to Cedar Rapids and talked to Ron Dunmire (the president at that time) and others.  I was interested so they sent me to Boston to meet with Tom Phillips, who was head of Raytheon(RTN) at the time.  I guess I passed because I soon received a terrific job offer, a lot more money, and RTN stock!
So the rest was history.  We accepted and started by putting NW Beaver Dr. up for sale. I took an apartment in Cedar Rapids and drove over Sunday night and back on Friday night,
until it sold, which didn't take very long.  Marti had been in real estate, so it didn't take her long to find a place she liked and we moved to Cedar Rapids. I was 50 years old and ready for a change.
The construction industry was in a kind of a funk and was starting to slow- this was part of my decision and I new I would have to had to rebuild the sales staff. Fortunately, I was able to get many friends from the industry who had been laid off during the downturn.  We were able to grow our sales by 10% or more, every year, for 6 or 8 years before the next slowdown came.
By the mid 1990's, a combination of business conditions and parent company consolidation of facilities, resulted in my early retirement. I was 63 y/o and happy to accept the retirement and took my pension.
In my early years of retirement, I quickly realized that this was a normal outcome of "big business". I was thankful for the many good years I spent at Eagle Iron Works and Cedar Rapids Incorporated.
I received a retirement pension from both companies and with social security and income off money Marti and I saved, we could look forward to a very comfortable retirement on St. Simon's Island.



WELDON'S FOOTBALL STORIES

Shared by Bruce Thalacker on March 20, 2020
My older brother Weldon (Wink) Thalacker was the greatest football player to graduate from Ottumwa High School. In High School he played offensive guard and defensive end. I followed him 9 years later and we always had fun relating to our experiences as Ottumwa Bulldogs. During Wink's senior year he was selected as one 10 Iowa athlete scholars to be invited to the University of Iowa to compete for the prestigious Nile Kinnick scholarship. After a weekend of meeting all the coaches and being treated like royalty he was told that although grades were fine the coaches felt that at 175 pounds he wasn't large enough to play line in the Big Ten.            That turned out to be good news since he enrolled that fall at Iowa State College to study Mechanical Engineering. The following spring he decided he could handle the studies OK and possibly football would provide him funding for the rest of his education. He went out for spring practice by asking the coach to give him a uniform and if he proved he could make team he would get a scholarship . He ended up making 2nd team defensive end playing behind behind a two year letterman. He got a job being head resident in the dorm system and received a scholarship paying tuition and books plus he  was eating on the training table. Life was good!                 The fall season of 1952 turned out as a surprise when the first team defensive end broke his shoulder in the second game against Oklahoma so he was moved up to first team for the rest of the year.
  During the next three years he played against  the college powerhouses of Oklahoma and Nebraska. At that time the Sooners were on their long winning streak and they had just come out with a sports illustrated rating system for college football. In the first poll Oklahoma' s first team was rated #1 and their 2nd team was rated #2. That is no wonder since he recalled going to Norman OKL for a game and when they arrived on Friday afternoon Oklahoma had 10 football fields in full practice, apparently they had no  limit on their number of scholarships.
  In his senior year he was appointed Co Captain of the Cyclones. During the season he was mentioned in a Sports Illustrated article as one of the best guards in the country and he would be an All American if it wasn't for the fact that he played for a small school. He was named athlete of the week that fall and his coaches commented they thought that # for # he was the best player in Big 7 conference. After graduation he was contacted by a couple of pro teams but that was not in cards since he had his draft notice and would go on active duty in 3 months.
He did play with a semi pro team in the service when he was stationed at Ft Bliss in El Paso
  Wink was the best brother anyone could ever have and I think about him a lot.