Posted 9/06/16 (Tue)
By Cecile Wehrman
Driving a grain cart on Les Gunderson, Sr.’s durum field last week, Jessica Sevre’s voice comes through the radio receiver in her dad’s pickup.
“I don’t know if we should let green dump into red,” she jokes, referencing the mixture of machinery brands running on a single piece of ground about 17 miles south of Crosby on Wednesday last week.
It was a moment of levity in an otherwise serious undertaking -- an occasion for which more than a dozen neighbors set aside their own harvest to bring six combines and four grain carts to help a friend.
“We don’t care about the time,” said Lyle Sevre, Jessica’s dad. “It’s for Les and we just need to get this done for him.”
The bee was organized at the suggestion of Brad Sparks, a neighbor who was moved to action after construction zone accident claimed the lives of Les Gunderson, 30, and his daughters, Shelly, 8, and Shay’Leigh, 2. With funerals for the three set for Thursday last week, helping Les get about 350 acres of grain combined, Sparks figured, was one way to help out.
“I’ve never seen Les just let people help him but it was nice to be able to help him out,” said Sparks. “Les, Jr., was one of those guys, I mean, he would give the shirt off his back and so is Les, Sr.”
Normally, said Sparks, young Les would have been there to help his dad with the harvest.
“‘Little Les,’ that’s what I called him,” remarked Lyle, remembering the young man in whose memory he brought three combines along with Jessica, son Logan, and hired man Kevin Aarestad to help with this bee.
Sevre said he has had neighbors come to his own aid in times of family loss or illness and the same can be said for others helping out -- Scott Wisdahl, and brothers Art, Don and Wally Schilke.
Others brought trucks and augers to put the grain into bins.
“The local guys who are here doing it are pulling off their own crops to do it,” said Jason Keller of New Century Ag (NCA).
“We don’t even think about that,” said Sevre. “It’ll come off in a hurry.”
With so many hands, the crew made short work of Gunderson’s harvest. In fact, they were done in about four hours flat.
NCA provided a lunch of burgers and brats. At the conclusion of the bee NCA donated the fuel to fill up all of the machines.
NCA’s Rick Chaffee said it all came together pretty fast.
“What they’ll do here in a few hours here would have taken them a couple of days.”
More support came from Farm Credit Services in the form of refreshments.
“To me,” said Keller, “it’s the spirit of a small town. People stick together and help each other out.”
It’s just that kind of caring, Keller said, that convinced him a few years ago to return home to Divide County after several years spent living in Colorado.
“The beauty of something like this, when a tragedy happens like this, is seeing people come together and try to make it right,” said Keller, even though nothing can make up for the loss.
“Les, Jr., I think, was a pretty big part of helping his dad,” said Sparks.
“He was a jack of all trades, he could do anything,” said Sparks, so turning out in his memory was “the least we could do.”