When this popular Slater couple moves out of Iowa, the town will have several “Big Shoes to Fill.”
For the past 54 years, Chuck and Helen Hoeven have been more than just residents of Slater. They have been instrumental in many aspects of town life.
And, yes, there will be many shoes for different organizations to fill when they move away.
The Hoeven’s time together began many years ago. They were introduced to each other on a blind date in 1958, in Des Moines, and it all seemed to work out well. They were married in 1959 and four years later moved to Slater.
“We shopped around for a small town,” tells Chuck. “We wanted to find the best place to live and eventually have a family. In 1963, son Greg was born, in 1967, daughter Nancy and in 1969, daughter Jennifer was born.”
Then the kids grew up, went off to college, moved away, got married and started their own families. It just seemed easier if Chuck and Helen moved closer to them.
“It’s been a lot of travel over the years,” tells Helen. “They pretty much all moved to the Kansas City area and now we are making the move, too. We will be leaving Slater in January and moving to Louisburg, Kansas.”
Mixed emotions fall into place when you visit with Chuck and Helen about leaving Slater. They both agree that they will miss their friends and their church and the town which both have been pretty involved in.
“We have been very active in the Slater Community Club, ever since 1963,” commented Chuck. “At one time I served as the president and have been on the board of directors as well. The July 4th celebration is a huge event for the Community Club to pull off each year. We used to alternate years with Sheldahl, but when it became too big a project for them, the club took over the annual town celebration with their help. We have had as many as 12,000 people in town during the July 4th celebration.”
The Centennial of 1989 was another town celebration that the Hoeven’s helped with.
“And there was the doctor’s office that the Community Club designed and built,” tells Helen. “Chuck helped with that project as well.”
The Slater United Methodist Church will miss the Hoeven’s as well. Chuck served on the church council for a number of years and Helen served as president, played the organ and directed the church choir.
“It was in 2002 that we started the senior dinners at church,” Said Chuck. “We would meet once a month; it cost $3 a person and we all loved getting together to eat and making new friends. This was open to the entire community and we had these dinners for 10 years.”
When it was time for a new church to be built, Chuck was right there to help with the design and make it all happen. “We made some pretty hefty decisions without having our ducks in a row,” he said. “We would get things approved after the fact.”
One of Chuck and Helen’s passions was taking care of eight different flower gardens around Slater. Both have been very active members of the Slater Garden and Study Club. They both admit that flowers are their hobby.
“We have been the gardeners for eight flower beds around Slater,” tells Chuck. “Yes, it is our hobby, it’s just something that we do. From planting, weeding and watering, we made sure that they were all taken care of.”
“It was nice that we could just do what we wanted to do with the gardens,” tells Helen. “People would come by while we were working in them and visit with us and they would drive by and honk their car horns and give us the thumbs-up. The Garden Club members will pick up where we leave off.”
Music has been an important part of the Hoeven’s life. They both have sung in the Community Chorus, the Heartland Song Birds and Helen with the Whimsical Warblers group.
“Chuck was our guy that hauled our equipment around for the Warblers,” said Helen. “He said that he enjoyed working with six women and called us a bunch of old gals. He also said that it was fun.”
Both Chuck and Helen have served with the American Legion as chaplains and will miss the members and activities associated with them.
Most recently, they have helped with the food pantry for Slater and Sheldahl.
When reflecting about their life in Slater, they both agree that it was the perfect place to raise their children and have their five grandchildren come to visit.
“When the grandchildren would come to stay in the summer, we were very comfortable with letting them ride their bikes around town,” said Chuck. “It’s a safe town to let them go to the pool and just have fun around town and not have to worry about them.”
As far as moving on, they say that they are looking forward to meeting new people and becoming active in a new community.
“The children are excited about us moving closer to them,” tells Helen.
“And we are excited about being close to them as well,” said Chuck. “We will just need to remind them that they do not need to stop and see us every day.”
Lots of big shoes to fill in Slater when the moving van pulls out from the Hoeven home in January — a van full of household goods, gardening supplies and 54 years of memories of the small town in Iowa that was absolutely a perfect place to live and raise a family.