Stories from the Heartland

Every resident at a Hawkeye Care Center has a story to tell about his or her journey through life. The person they are today is an evolution of the people they’ve met, and the influences, actions, events, challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced throughout the decades. We are proud to be a part of every resident’s story. And support them in the next chapter of their life.

Merlin Boll

Watching the picturesque sunset over farm fields every evening from his room at Hawkeye, Merlin relishes the fond memories of his own farming days. Throughout his 65 working years, Merlin had many interesting careers before retiring 21 years ago. He grew up in the Heartland, worked at a feeding company, was a truck driver for 20 years – and even spent two years in the Army stationed in Japan.  He married Marlene who actually lived right across the street from him.  He was a loyal member of the Legion for 50 years and loved attending meetings and playing Euchre. One of his biggest feats was taking over his uncle’s farm and working through those colorful sunsets for 13 years. Today, he enjoys visits from his daughters and hearing heartfelt stories about his 11 grandchildren and five great grand children.

Howard Fay

Howard Fay is 97 years old. He’s been married twice. He and his first wife had three kids together. She passed away after only being married a few short years. He met his second wife by buying a wooden silo from her. After he bought the silo, he sent her a letter and she responded. They had 58 years of wedded bliss together. Howard has many grandkids, great-grandkids and great-great grandkids. Too many to keep track of, he said.

Howard said he was making 35 cents per hour at his first job. He often rode his bicycle to and from work because he couldn’t afford gas for the car.

He has bought and sold several farms, having farmed for 25 to 30 years.

He is a collector of all sorts of antiques, but tractors are his passion. His favorite tractor was a 1930 Oliver Hart Parr. He has participated in many parades over the years with his tractors.

Howard has a shop where he keeps all his collectibles. He goes there on a daily basis to tinker with them. He loves turning trash into treasure, calling himself a “wheeler and dealer.” He still buys and sells things on a weekly basis.

Howard said, “Having a positive attitude is what keeps me going and keeps me young.”

Mary Ness

Hospitality, good cooking and a love of people runs in the Ness family. In fact, Mary Ness, resident of Hawkeye’s Dubuque Care Center, and her daughter Pam get to see each other more than most mother and daughters. Pam just celebrated her 35th anniversary with Hawkeye and is the manager of housekeeping and laundry at Dubuque. Mary’s Heartland story is made of all the right ingredients: a loving marriage of 63 years, running a restaurant, helping brides find their perfect gown and raising 6 kids. Best known as “Ma” at Ma’s Bakery & Kitchen for several years, Mary’s fondest memories are of meeting all types of people while running the “Lunch Counter.” Today, Mary enjoys others whipping up some good ole home cooking for her and visiting with her 18 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Fred Smith

Resident of Hawkeye Dubuque since 2013, Fred Smith has two great loves: teaching and Joyce, his loving wife of 58 years. Fred and Joyce met on a blind date where it was love at first sight. They had one son, Kevin now married to Tessa. Joyce visits Fred twice a day almost every day and lives nearby with their dog Sadie. Fred’s mother and aunt inspired him to go to college and become a teacher following in both their footsteps. Fred not only became a 7th grade teacher for several years, he rose to the top of the class and became the very first principal at Eisenhower school in Dubuque. There he was beloved by students and his teaching staff for 20 years. Fred cherishes the time with his wife and loves that she can come share in his life at Hawkeye Care Center.

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