MALTA, Ill. (AP) -- Thanksgiving is a time for family, including the extended family known as friends and neighbors.

For the Govig family, those friends have turned out in ways for which Stephanie Govig cannot be thankful enough.

Her husband, John, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 24, after battling cancer. He was 47. On Saturday, about 60 people came out to harvest the corn on about 500 acres farmed by John and his brother, Jim.

Stephanie Govig and daughters Megan and Morgan were greeted with hugs when they arrived Saturday morning. Looking across the field, Stephanie said that John would have had "so much fun out here," bringing in the crop with the others.

"It's so overwhelming, all this," she said. "But it's the good that comes from the bad."

Mark Challand of Lee said that friends organized the harvest several weeks ago, but that John passed before he could see it done. They knew the brothers needed help this harvest season, as Jim had also been sick earlier this fall.

The Govigs have been farming for generations, family friend Kevin Hickey said. Jim Govig is road commissioner for Malta Township, and John Govig had been road commissioner for Milan Township for the past 25 years.

"John touched so many lives around here. He was a leader of the community and a family man," Hickey said.

Hickey recalled how John Govig had shown particular concern for people living in the township when he was running in his first election. Govig had gone door to door, asking people when they left for work in the morning and what routes they used so that he knew which roads to plow first, he said.

Until the township board names a new road commissioner, Hickey, a trustee, said that others in the area are helping out.

While they were thankful for the immense help given for the harvest, the Govigs said it's not surprising how the community pulled together.

"It's such a close-knit community," said 19-year old Morgan.

And it's a community that becomes even closer when a farmer falls ill or is otherwise unable to run the farm. John's friends and family are quick to point out that he was often the first to help other farmers with their crop.

Megan Govig, 16, believed that if her father had seen the community come together on Saturday, he would have been the first one on the field.

He would be humbled, Hickey noted, but would want to send the help elsewhere.

"John would say, 'Let's go do yours first,'" Challand agreed.

By 10 a.m., seven semitrailers were lined up on McGirr Road as a combine dumped corn into them. Organizers said there were at least a dozen combines and 30 trucks involved, and that about 500 acres would be harvested all in a day's work.

John Pitstick, one of the organizers, said that the help came easily.

"We didn't have to ask anyone to come," he said.

A few friends spread the word to everyone within a 10-mile radius, and people turned out with their combines and trucks, despite a late harvest for everyone involved. Elburn Coop will process the grain.

"Everyone's got their own to do," Challand said, "but this is more important."

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