- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NEW VIENNA, Iowa (AP) - A chance discovery inside a doomed New Vienna farm building revealed a testament to enduring love.

As an appraiser walked through the corn crib last year ahead of its planned demolition, he found a message scratched into the wall. The initials V.O. and D.D. had been carved into a board, bordered by a heart.

On the board were names: Daniel Domeyer and Virdie Osterhaus. And the date: Sept. 4, 1943.

The discovery was made more than 14 years after Domeyer’s death and just weeks before his widow, Virginette “Virdie” Domeyer, passed away. To the couple’s children, the find marked a love story spanning decades.

“I think it was Dad calling Mom home,” Connie Sjostrom told the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2kOLNrh).

In September 1943, Domeyer was on the cusp of 20 and the start of a stint in the U.S. Navy. He served until 1946. But his feelings about “Virdie” never wavered.

In 1948, they were married, and the newlyweds first settled in Dyersville. They had five children.

Over the next few decades, the family farmed in Worthington, Petersburg, Delhi and Oneida. By 1970, they owned a farm in the Manchester/Greeley area, and Daniel started driving for Farmer’s Silver Spring Co-op, a job he held for nearly 20 years while he farmed on evenings and weekends.

He died in 2002, taking the secret of his youthful heart with him.

Randy Nefzger, owner of Nefzger Auction and Appraisal Service, found the inscription while preparing for a sale at the former Klostermann farm. A youthful Daniel Domeyer milked cows at the farm, located about one mile north of New Vienna off Iowa 136.

“I was really glad that we (saw) it because it would have been gone in a heartbeat,” Nefzger said.

Pat Osterhaus, Virginette’s nephew, received permission from the farm’s new owner to salvage the 14-foot board.

“Part of the board was covered up by steel that I had to peel back in order to get the board out,” he said.

The thought that the inscription had hung in secret for more than 70 years sent “kind of a chill up my spine,” Osterhaus said.

Daniel and Virginette never shared the story of their courtship with their children. None of the kids even know if their parents actually dated in 1943. They only heard pieces of the story. They both grew up in large Catholic families in the small town of Petersburg. They both attended St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic school, though Virginette was two years younger than Daniel.

In October, the inscriptions were shared with an ailing Virginette Domeyer. She appeared confused. She had never seen it.

“But she wouldn’t have,” said her son Chris Domeyer. “Even if they were dating, women wouldn’t have gone to a man’s workplace back then.”

Virginette, who had dementia, seemed pleased at the discovery and noted that Daniel never forgot a Valentine’s Day. Though he had been gone for more than 14 years, she still sometimes asked why he wasn’t there with her.

“On Nov. 20, Mom’s health took a serious turn for the worse,” said her daughter Marcia Burkle. “Mom passed away on Sunday, Nov. 27.

“The timing of this was unbelievable. The board was nothing short of a labor of love and a work of art of a young man for the love of his life.”


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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