Obit: Hediger, Herman Max (1903 - 1972)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Hediger, Milz, Harder, Opelt, Knoop, Schroeder, Zbinden, Halle, North, Tesmer, Morgenthaler, Bletsoe, Clark
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 7/13/1972
Hediger, Herman Max (22 March 1903 - 9 July 1972)
Funeral services were to be held Wednesday afternoon from the Georgas Funeral Home for Herman Max Hediger, 69, who died of a heart attack at his home in Christie Sunday evening.
The Rev. Gary Clark, pastor of the United Church of Christ, was to be in charge, and burial was to be made in the family lot at Christie, in the shadows of the “Marie Louise” Chapel, which he lovingly built to commemorate a granddaughter who had been killed in a bicycle-auto accident.
Mr. Hediger came to Clark County as a lad of 18 from his native Reinach, Switzerland. In later years, while operating the Christie Dairy now operated by the Bledsoe’s, Mr. Hediger had painted on a bulk milk holding tank a scene of his native Reinach, nestled in the Swiss Alps. While the holding tank was visible from Highway 73, the picture was painted on the “inside”, where it could be seen only from the living room window of the Hediger house. It was a constant reminder to both he and Mrs. Hediger of their native city.
One of many first generation Swiss people who settled in Clark County, Mr. Hediger made a substantial success in the dairy business. He came here at the instance of Mrs. Walter Zbinden, whose husband operated a cheese factory on the site of the present Clark County Press building. He started working for them for $30 per month and board.
When Mr. Hediger was still less than 20 years of age bought a cheese plant opposite the Arnold Halle farm in the Town of Weston. The transaction required $750, and Mr. Hediger had only $375. He sought financial help from Herman North at the Neillsville Bank and received it. Mr. North noted as he approved the loan that Mr. Hediger had kept out only $5 per week from each paycheck for his personal expenses.
During his years of dairy plant operations in Clark County Mr. Hediger has made up more than $30,000 in payments that others owed farmers for milk and were unable to pay at the time Mr. Hediger took over the plants. He had no legal obligation in connection with any of the $30,000-plus; but felt a moral obligation and considered it an investment in goodwill and trust.
A hard worker, Mr. Hediger installed a drying plant at Christie which made whole milk powder for human consumption. When the plant was installed in 1958 it was one of but three in the United States. Later he became the first plant operator in the area to eliminate the canned milk intake and go to bulk milk exclusively. Today a very few plants retain can milk operations, and most of these that are maintained are kept along with bulk milk intakes.
Always proud of Christie, where he made his home for most of his years in this country, and proud of his native Switzerland, Mr. Hediger brought touches of his homeland to America in later years. Among these was the Swiss carillon bells mounted at the United Church of Christ. Bells are a first love of the Swiss people, and Mr. Hediger was a Sweitzer at heart.
Among the other lasting tributes to Mr. Hediger is the authentic Swiss chalet on Grand Avenue at Division Street, now owned by the Raymond Tesmers. This chalet was built by two carpenters brought to this country by Mr. Hediger from Switzerland. One of them John Morgenthaler, remained in this country and is engaged in carpentry. Mr. Hediger, of course, also worked with them.
At one time in his life, Mr. Hediger owned and operated a wheat farm and worked in the oil fields in Montana, where he became an experienced driller. In later years he operated a trucking business, which included long hauls to the east coast.
It was while driving a tractor-semi rig to the east that Mr. Hediger suffered a severe heart attack last fall. He was kept in a hospital for several weeks, and returned home in the spring.
He had engaged in a day’s work Sunday, retired to his bedroom to rest, and suffered his fatal attack while resting from his labors.
The son of Fritz and Anna (Milz) Hediger, Mr. Hediger was born March 22, 1903, in Reinach, Switzerland. He came to the United States when he was 18 in the company of Henry Harder, a Christie resident. On March 16, 1926, he was married to Mr. Harder’s sister, Hannah, at Winona, Mn.
Survivors in addition to his wife include six children: Mrs. Bernard (Hannah) Opelt of Rt. 3 Neillsville; Mrs. Robert (Rose) Knoop of Rt. 2, Neillsville; Mrs. Arthur (Margaret) Schroeder of Hales Corners; Herman, Jr., and Kurt of Rt. 3 Neillsville; and Fritz of Neillsville. Twenty-five grandchildren, two sisters, Mrs. Henry (Elsie) Harder of rural Greenwood, and Fannie Hediger of Reinach, Switzerland, and a brother, Hans Hediger of Reinach, also survive.
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