Granton FFA Alumni Names
2014 Honored Grandparents


Vern and LaVern Sternitzky


   Vern and LaVern “Blondie” Sternitzky were selected as Granton’s Honored Grandparents
for 2014 Granton Fall Festival. 
They pose with their granddaughter, Danielle Anding, who nominated them for the title.
(Contributed photo)


“Patience and love, these aren’t the only two lessons I have learned from my grandparents, but they are indeed high on the list,” wrote Danielle Anding, in her letter of nomination for this year’s 2014 Granton Honored Grandparents, Vern and LaVerne “Blondie” Sternitzky.  Their nomination was selected by a panel of judges from the FFA Alumni, who sponsors the award each year.

Vern and Blondie have been married for 38 years.  They have four children, Mary, Molly, Chris and Mick.  They have been blessed with 10 grandchildren, Manda, Joshua, Ben, Zach, Brandon, Derek, Danielle, Makayla, Makenna and Brock. Sadly, they were forced to endure the loss of Manda, their oldest granddaughter, but they maintained and reinforced the values of love and support as a family through this difficult time.  In her letter, Danielle said, “Whether it was letting me learn something instrumental to use in my own life, my grandparents have been with me every step of the way.”  The same goes for all of the children and grandchildren.

According to the nomination, Grandpa Vern taught his children and grandchildren “that hard work does pay off and through it you gain many friends.”  His work history is certainly a testament to that value of hard work, as he has spent 65 years working for Lynn Dairy.  He started employment there at age 16, helping to haul can milk.  He also helped make cheese and then worked his way up to be a field rep, meeting daily with farmers.  He is still employed there today, but is on a break, recovering from back surgery.  When talking with him for this interview, he told me, “I can’t wait to get back to work.

Grandpa and Grandma taught them all “that you can persevere through anything that comes your way.”  That especially hit home hard this year, as they all watched Grandma go through, battle and defeat cancer this past winter and Grandpa work hard at recovering from his major back surgery.

Grandma Blondie also taught the values of family life and love.  She was a stay-at-home mom for years until her youngest went to school.  She then took on a position at the Granton School cafeteria as dishwasher for eight years and left there to become prep cook at the Country Kitchen in Marshfield for 10 years.  When her daughter Chris, who lived nearby, had their first grandchild, Brandon, Grandma Blondie alternated days providing child care services and eventually chose to quit working and become a full-time stay-at-home Grandma.

Grandpa and Grandma were kept busy running the grandchildren to practices, band and other activities throughout the years and have only recently been relieved of those duties as the kids now have their driver’s licenses.  That does not stop Grandma and Grandpa from still being involved, as they support all of their grandchildren as much as they can.  “Our home is always open to the grandchildren,” they say.  The grandchildren recall coloring, playing the board game “Aggravation” and Grandma reading to them as they spent the days with them.  They said there were lots of Dr. Seuss books, but their favorite book of all was about Caillou, a little boy who was adventurous and wanted to see the world.

Many of the hobbies that the Sternitzky’s have also have enforced those lessons of hard work, patience, perseverance and love.  They reside as a third-generation family on the homestead that once belonged to Vern’s grandparents, William and Ella Sternitzky.  The children and grandchildren remember many days spent working with the animals and crops produced on the small farm.  At one point, they raised over 300 laying chickens.  Then they first started, they got eight to 10 dozen eggs each day, and before they stopped raising them, they were collecting up to 25 dozen per day.  All these eggs had to be cleaned and boxed and were given to neighbors, friends and family, just by word of mouth.

Many additional hours have been spent in the family garden and orchard.  As they harvest the foods, everyone learned the art of home canning and freezing as preservation, so they always have good homegrown foods.  In their orchard, they raise apples, pears, plums, butternuts and walnuts.  They produce sweet corn, potatoes, carrots, kohlrabi, pumpkins, squash, zucchini and tomatoes in their garden.  The grandchildren still help husk and cream the corn for freezing.  In addition, they raise strawberries and raspberries, which they freeze and make jam with.

Grandpa Vern has had a lifetime hobby of admiring and supporting the wild purple martin bird.  His folks had one bird house when he was a child, so they put it up.  After three years, he noticed they finally had a pair of birds.  So he decided to try and get more and went and purchased two more houses.  As his interest and the number of birds increased, Vern built some more houses.  He now has 17 houses that will hold more than 400 birds.  He said, “It is a great joy when the little ones fly each spring.”  When I asked if he had any other hobbies he replied, “I love to hunt, fish and chase girls.”  This comment only reiterated to me what his grandchildren said, “Grandpa likes to be silly.”  The grandchildren spend the deer season hunting with Grandpa and have many family memories of hunting with him.

Grandma Blondie has a few additional hobbies of her own as well.  She loves to crochet Afghans and doilies and taught Danielle this same hobby.  “If it can be crocheted, Grandma will try it,” says Danielle.  Grandma loves to hake, especially breads, pies and other desserts and she is an excellent cook.  Danielle says her favorite meal is Grandma’s homemade beef, mashed potatoes and corn.  All the grandchildren and children come home for Christmas and know they can expect a delicious meal of turkey, ham and the works, with homemade pie. They have a Christmas tradition that after dinner everyone gets to open their gifts, starting from the youngest to the oldest.  Grandpa always has to go last, but he doesn’t mind.  He enjoys watching the grandchildren more.

Vern and Blondie can often be found socializing at the local Mapleworks Café.  She is known for her community service there, as each day when she stops in for coffee, Blondie can often be seen rolling silverware or bringing in various fruits or vegetables that she has cut up for them.

In summary of the nomination, Danielle wrote, “These are only two important lessons that I have learned from Grandpa and Grandma.  There are many more lessons that we have learned and many more, still to be taught."

As Honored Grandparents, Blondie and Vern will be recognized in the Granton Fall Festival Parade Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, at 1 p.m.  It seems fitting that they are honored this year, as the theme is “There’s no place like home."


From the Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 27, 2014

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon, September 2, 2014

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, September 2, 2014

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