LOIS DALKE FORTY YEARS WITH THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
She Helped Preserve Seymour History
After forty years of service, Lois Dalke has stepped down as a member of the Board of Directors of the Seymour Community Historical Society. Reminiscing about the early years of the historical society, Lois recalled that Tom Duffey had the idea to do something special to celebrate the Bicentennial of the United States.
A notice appeared in the local paper for all interested parties to attend a meeting at the high school. Lois recollected that Duffey, Bill Collar, Rita Gosse, Chuck Kimball and Eleanor Piehl were among those who attended. Subsequent meetings were held at the municipal building. Since the railroad depot was available for purchase the group decided to meet with representatives from the Green Bay and Western and eventually obtained the depot for a price of $1.00. Lois related that she originally got involved because she felt there was a need to preserve Seymour history and with the Bicentennial coming up there was a great deal of community interest in doing something.
On December 3, 1975, the Seymour Community Historical Society, Inc. was granted a charter by the Board of Curators of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Officers included Tom Duffey, president, Bill Collar, Vice-president, Rita Gosse, treasurer, and Lois Dalke, secretary. Members of the society went to work converting the railroad depot into a museum in time for the Bicentennial celebration on July 4, 1976. Lois recalled that Gladys Stern, Eleanor Piehl, Lowell Vietch, Norman Miller, Frank Piehl, and Pam Rucinski joined the previously mentioned people in the effort. A call went out for artifacts and there was an overwhelming response from area residents. Many of these same items are on display in the present museum.
Lois remembers that the community pulled together to get the depot ready. The entire building had to be cleaned and painted. She made curtains and helped build displays.
Several items that stand out in Lois’ mind are the moving of the depot, acquiring the Miller-Piehl building, constructing the gazebo, and of course the new museum. “When the railroad was sold we were ordered to either move the depot (museum) or it would be torn down because it was on railroad property. That is when the community really pulled together to move the depot and save it. About the same time, the Miller-Piehl building became available and the museum moved into that building. Lee and Pat Nagel were generous in donating the building and the Depot Street land for Nagel Park. It was a major project to move from the depot to the Miller-Piehl building. We carried many things and did a lot of cleaning. We didn’t use the upstairs at first and then made the different rooms up there.
I remember building walls and putting up wallpaper. Lawrence Ganzel was a big help. I especially remember dressing the windows and the mannequins that didn’t want to cooperate. Some people said it wouldn’t last, but we made it work.” When asked to state her greatest satisfaction after forty years on the board, Lois cited the great community support to make it all happen. “It was a real joy to work with Rita Gosse, Edna Sherman, Pam Rucinski, Gladys Stern, Eleanor Piehl, Marge Zibell, Lucille Miller, Roberta Mory, Luanne James, Marge Coonen, Janice Eick and so many others.” She recalled some of the more popular programs such as the huge quilt show, heritage day, Christmas programs, corn roast, street dance, music in the park, memory forest, vintage fashion show, weaving and knitting crafts, military displays and most of all activities for kids such as pumpkin carving and making Christmas ornaments. “The new museum is wonderful. It is all paid for because of the support of so many area residents and those with ties to the community.”
Lois, a past “Seymour Outstanding Citizen” recipient, is a lifetime member of Chaminade, the woman’s chorus based in Appleton, the Salvation Army for 36 years, and HCE - University of Wisconsin Extension Home and Community Education for 59 years. She is currently singing with the Chantelles, a women’s chorus in Green Bay, is a member of WREA, and the Seymour Madhatter Red Hats Club.
When asked for concluding remarks Lois cited family support and the rewards of being a volunteer. “Most of all I have to give credit to my husband Marv. He supported me in all my activities and of course, he carved many items for the museum including the cigar store Indian, Hamburger Charlie, and numerous hamburgers. The greatest reward in volunteering is doing things for others that you know will last. It is very gratifying to help out. Being a member of the board has been an exciting educational journey. Now it is time for someone else to take over.”