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Volunteers bring in farmer’s final crop

By KEN DE LA BASTIDE

Kokomo Tribune

Neighbors, friends gather to harvest a deceased farmer's last crop.

GALVESTON, Ind. (AP) — Despite light showers and overcast skies, about 100 farmers gathered to help the family of the late Gerald Sullivan harvest his last crop.

By Wednesday afternoon an army of farm combines and farm trucks was bringing in Sullivan’s final corn and soybean crop. Farmers were assigned to different fields to get the work accomplished.

Sullivan, 76, died in early September as a result of a non-farming accident. Within hours of the farming community learning of his passing, farmers began contacting Joe Johnson, a friend, volunteering to help.

“Dad was raised in Cass County and was raised in a farm family,” his daughter, Julie Rybolt, told the Kokomo Tribune. “He farmed all his life.”

With the emotion of the day obvious in her voice, Rybolt told the gathered farmers they were in the hearts of the Sullivan family and loved by Gerald’s family members.

“Dad was so blessed and honored to have all of you here today,” she said. “It’s truly a blessing. This is a very special gathering of friends, family and neighbors.”

Rybolt said her father planned to retire from farming after this year and this would have been his last harvest.

Daughter Tammy Radez said the turnout was awesome.

“I live in Indianapolis and you don’t see this,” she said. “I love a community where everyone comes together. Dad would love this. I told the guys when they were out harvesting to think of Dad sitting beside you.”

Radez said her father always said his first love was the Lord, his second love was family and his third love was farming.

“He kept that all in perspective,” she said. “He loved his grandchildren and friends.”

Gerald’s son Dean Sullivan said several farmers commented that they didn’t think his father ever had an enemy.

Dean Sullivan said he wasn’t surprised by the number of people who gathered to help.

“There’s a sign in my house that reads ‘Thank you, farmers. Bless you,’” he said. “Our entire family feels that way. Tell everybody thank you. God bless all of you.”

Neighbor Charlie Wilson farmed alongside Sullivan for many years.

“He was the type of fellow that even in bad times he was always jolly,” Wilson said. “He always had a smile.”

Wilson recalled that the Sullivan family for many years raised tomatoes for Red Gold and one year a field was wet all year.

“I don’t think he got anything from that field,” he said. “It didn’t seem to bother him.”

Wilson said since Gerald farmed in two counties, he knew a lot of people in the farming community.

Johnson said he knew the local farming community would come together to help one of their own. He said everybody he contacted immediately said yes.

“It’s amazing all these people that turned out,” he said. “There were no questions asked. It was such a tragic accident that no one could say no.”

Johnson said whenever a local farmer needs assistance, the community comes together to help.

The plan was to harvest the entire 600 acres that Sullivan farmed by the end of the day. Johnson said there would be numerous combines and trucks available to harvest the crop and to take it to the grain elevators in Howard and Cass counties.

Pastor Roy Ice told the gathering the Lord was present in the number of volunteers who came to help.

“Lord, we’re doing this for Gerald,” he said in prayer. “We know that he is with you and smiling.”



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