Retired dairy farmer to host annual Rural Life Celebration in memory of late wife

When it storms, David Trunk lights a blessed candle that always sits on his kitchen table. His parents started the tradition many years ago and he and his late wife, Marlene, kept it going.

“It’s just a sign that you’re calling down God’s grace that something bad doesn’t happen,” he said. “Some might think it’s a superstition, but I don’t look at it that way. It’s a prayer.”

And prayer is central to the life of a farmer, according to Trunk.

David Trunk, a retired dairy farmer near Foreston, Minnesota, sits with a photo of his late wife, Marlene. (photos by Dianne Towalski / The Central Minnesota Catholic)

“It’s always been a big part of our life,” he said. “We pray for everything. It’s always up to the hands of God.

“In the spring you prepare the soil and plant the seeds and pray for a good harvest, pray for good crops,” he added. “Good Lord willing, we’ve never had a crop failure here. Never. We’ve had years when it got dry and we didn’t get as much, but we always got something.”

Trunk lost Marlene to cancer last summer. They were married 62 years and raised seven children on the farm.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done had we not had our faith because that’s what carries us through,” Trunk said.

It was because of Marlene’s passion for rural life that Trunk agreed to host this year’s Rural Life Celebration on his farm. But he also found it hard to say no to his parish priest, Father Derek Wiechmann, pastor of the Four Pillars in Faith Area Catholic Community.

“I guess I can’t tell him no. I just can’t,” Trunk said. “He’s been such a good priest.”

The 2022 Rural Life Celebration will be held Sunday, Aug. 14, beginning at 10 a.m.

On Sunday, Aug. 14, the annual Rural Life Celebration will be held on the Trunk farm south of Foreston. The celebration is being hosted by St. Louis Bertrand Parish, Foreston, along with the Four Pillars in Faith Area Catholic Community, which also includes St. Mary in Mora, St. Kathryn in Ogilvie and St. Mary in Milaca.

“David is a farmer to the core of his being,” Father Wiechmann said. “Through his life, he has embraced the vocation of being a farmer and from it has grown closer to God’s providential care and love for him. I believe that David — like so many others in our diocese that live out the call to be stewards of God’s creation — does so with a humble and generous heart.”

Trunk grew up on this farm, moving there with his family when he was 10 years old.

It was a dairy farm for 40 years, Trunk said, but when he had health problems about 20 years ago, he gave up milking. But he and Marlene liked living on the farm and wanted to stay, so he kept young stock that were less work until they were gone, and then he worked for a neighbor doing planting and field work for 16 years.

“Later, as I got older and machinery got bigger, I didn’t want to do that anymore,” he said.

At 86, he is retired and lives on the farm alone, renting out most of his 160 acres to other farmers.

Trunk tears up a little talking about his wife and
her passion for all things dairy and her love of rural life. When she was young, she and her brother worked on a farm a few blocks from their home in Little Canada, Minnesota, where she fell in love with rural life.

“That’s why she wanted to marry a farmer,” Trunk jokes, “so that was good.”

Trunk remembers his wife being a 4-H leader for more than 40 years. She was on the American Dairy Association board for many years and worked as a clerk for the township for a time, he said. She also taught catechism at their parish.

“She had a rounded-out full rural life,” he said

David Trunk’s late wife Marlene will be honored in several special ways at this year’s Rural Life Celebration.

Marlene will be honored in a special way during the celebration. The Mass is being offered for her, and Trunk also requested a special traditional song at the end of the Mass.

“Dairy Princesses will be serving ice cream sundaes as a tribute to Marlene,” said Nancy Frerich, co-chair with Sheri Renner of the planning committee for the event. “She was so instrumental in the dairy industry, working directly with the county fair and Dairy Princesses over decades.”

Even the use at the Mass of the altar from the original St. Louis Bertrand Church is a tribute to Marlene, Frerich said. Her family has ties to that original church.

“Through her life, Marlene was a leader in the dairy world and was a promoter of drinking milk,” Father Wiechmann said. “It’s so special to honor her at this event because she would have loved to host something like this.”

Raised on a farm himself, Father Wiechmann shares Marlene’s love of farming. He is excited to be a part of hosting this annual get-together, so people of the diocese can get a taste of rural life and give thanks to God for his abundance of blessings, he said.

“Fewer and fewer people are connected to farms and know where their food comes from,” he said. “It’s important for us to bridge that gap. Otherwise, there can be many misconceptions that arise about where food comes from and how it gets from farm to table.”

The celebration begins at 10 a.m. with Mass celebrated by Bishop Donald Kettler and Father Wiechmann. Following Mass will be a baked chicken dinner catered by Creative Catering in Rice. Parishioners have volunteered to provide bars and cookies. There will also be games and music with local musician Pat Coffee.

“I hope that people can come to know and appreciate the rural life and the way God blessed each of us through the farmer,” Father Wiechmann said.


The Rural Life Celebration begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at the David Trunk farm south of Foreston (address: 4383 120th Ave., Princeton). The day includes an outdoor Mass with Bishop Donald Kettler, including presentation of the Catholic Century Farm Awards and the new Rural Business Award. It will be followed by food and family-friendly activities. The event is free and open to all. A second collection will be taken at Mass to help benefit the Rural Life Fund.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

Leave a Reply