Community members rally to celebrate a beloved farmer’s life
Melcher-Dallas, Iowa community members, family, and friends lined tractors and vehicles nearly 7 miles to lay one of their own farmers to rest. From their family farm to the cemetery, it was a sight his family says they will forever cherish.
Dennis Murr dedicated his life to farming. He lived by the motto, “Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you” making him an adored member of the 1,200-person community. The 76-year-old farmer passed away from a heart attack on Saturday, April 4, surrounded by his family.
“It was just so heartwarming to see everyone come out,” says Margaret Murr. “We were only allowed 10 people, so it wasn’t a traditional type of funeral.”
Due to COVID-19, only 10 family members were allowed to attend according to Iowa’s social distancing rules. Immediate family members included his wife of 55 years, Margaret; daughters Jodi and Jo Lee; sons-in-law Leonard and Theron; his special granddaughter Karsyn J, as Dennis called her; sister-in-law, Anne Murr; and several nieces and nephews.
“When we were going by the farm, I saw where we parked the tractor and then our neighbor had parked his tractor out as well and I thought ‘well that was nice,’” says Margaret. “But as we kept going down the road there were more tractors and more people standing outside their cars waving at us. It just took your breath away.”
Neighbor and family friend, Genni Heffron helped in organizing the group of neighbors and friends by getting the word out.
“I tried to contact our close neighbors to the Murrs,” says Heffron. “The word spread, and I thought about calling tractor clubs and people involved in that, but knew we also had to be respectful of not having people congregate in big groups.”
Heffron says Dennis was a farmer who took an immense amount of pride in what he did and was someone people could count on. He was always one to be the first in the field and was one of those farmers who always did things right.
“When we saw the family come through, they were so excited to see the support from us. Margaret had the windows down trying to see who was in each tractor and was smiling and waving at everyone. We all were just taken aback and so thrilled to be a part of it.”
The Family Man
The Murrs raised crops, livestock, and two daughters on their farm outside of Melcher-Dallas. This past winter, the family man had told his daughters, “I’ve grown a lot of things in my life, but the best thing I’ve ever grown was you two girls,” imprinting that memory on them.
Margaret says he delighted in his cattle, taking pride in topping the market. After selling his livestock, Dennis began delivering farm products for McCorkle Hardware in the neighboring town of Columbia where he worked for the past 10 years.
Several times McCorkle Hardware customers specifically requested Dennis as their delivery driver, and they’d report to Maurine (the owner) what a nice guy he was. “He was known to have a generous nature and helped people in need,” reads his obituary.
Dennis also spent time helping at the local funeral home handing out bulletins and assisting with funerals. Margaret says he felt like that was a calling to help ease people’s pain.
“He was a great son to his parents,” Margaret says. “We kept them at home as long as we could and when we had to put them in a care center. He was there at least three times a day to take care of them. You couldn’t have asked for a better son. He really followed the commandment to honor your father and mother.”
She also remembers him as very loving to her and their two daughters.
“He believed in God and we prayed so I know he’s in a good spot,” Margaret says.
This fall would have been Dennis’s 59th harvest. Margaret says she has plenty of help for this planting season and the coming fall. They plan to have a celebration of life at a later date.