Wentholds proud to serve as king and queen

Ossian Senior Hospice resident Francis Wenthold (center) and wife JoAnn (right) will be the King and Queen of this year’s Ossian Fest grand parade. Pictured alongside granddaughter Olivia Wenthold, Francis and JoAnn will lead the annual parade, which will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. (Zakary Kriener photo)


Wentholds proud to serve as king and queen



The annual Ossian Fest grand parade is one of the biggest and best parades in all of northeast Iowa. This year, when the parade makes its way down Main Street Ossian, parade-goers will be greeted first by Ossian Senior Hospice King and Queen Francis and JoAnn Wenthold.

The two longtime Ossian residents were chosen to represent Ossian Senior Hospice due to their dedication to both their local community and country.

Francis and JoAnn (Huinker) first met in 1954 when they both stood up in the same wedding.

“We liked each other and just kind of started dating,” recalled JoAnn. “We got married two years later at St. Francis DeSales church here in town and have lived here ever since.”

The couple went on to say that they lived in an apartment in Ossian for the first several months of their marriage before moving to a house, which is the same house that JoAnn still lives in to this day.

“We have always enjoyed the small-town atmosphere that Ossian provides,” said JoAnn. “Everyone knows their neighbors and you can always count on them to lend a helping hand. You don’t even have to tell them when you are going to be away because you just know that you can always count on them to watch over your house and property without asking. We’ve never been city people, Ossian is just perfect for us.”

Prior to meeting one another, Francis served in the U.S. Army for two years.

“I was a forward observer in the Korean War, which meant that I would watch over a group of soldiers from a vantage point,” explained Francis, who lives at the local senior care facility. “I have been a member of our American Legion ever since I returned.”

When his military career ended, Francis opened a repair shop in Ossian alongside his brother-in-law Ralph Wiltgen. He worked on cars, tractors, and other welding jobs up until he retired in the late ‘90s.

Francis was also influential in the start of the Ossian Ambulance Service, which he served on for 37 years.

“I was one of the originals on the ambulance,” said Francis. “Today, my son and his wife (Terri and Lynette Wenthold) continue to keep the ambulance in service, which is something very important for our community.”

For JoAnn, Ossian Senior Hospice was where she spent her career as she worked for it for nearly 40 years.

“I did a little bit of everything here,” she explained. “I began as a CNA (certified nurse aide) and later worked in housekeeping – doing laundry and other cleaning.”

Francis and JoAnn had a total of six children, which lead to 19 grandchildren – including granddaughter Olivia Wenthold who followed in her grandmother’s footsteps and has worked at Ossian Senior Hospice for 11 years.

The King and Queen also have 29 great-grandchildren, the oldest of which is 14 and the youngest only three weeks old.  

“We are proud of our family – even though it can be difficult to keep track of everyone sometimes,” laughed JoAnn. “We enjoy spending time with the little ones whenever we get the opportunity.”

Francis and JoAnn will celebrate 63 years together on Sept. 1 this year, a relationship that has yielded countless great memories.

“We have enjoyed a lot of bus trips together over the years,” continued JoAnn. “We have been to Branson (Missouri) several times, as well as to (Washington) D.C. and New York. Traveling has always been something that we have been able to do together.”

Francis is also well known for one of his favorite hobbies, fishing.

“I have spent a lot of time on the Mississippi (River) or at area ponds,” said Francis. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been out, but that has been one of my favorite pastimes throughout my life.”

Today, Francis and JoAnn spend every day together at Ossian Senior Hospice. They enjoy listening to music and other entertainment at the local facility, including Francis’ favorite – old time and ‘50s tunes.

When the couple makes its way down Main Street for the annual Ossian Fest grand parade, Francis and JoAnn will be waving and throwing out candy from a convertible as they represent Ossian Senior Hospice. The parade is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening.

“It’s an honor to be selected to be the King and Queen and to be able to ride in the parade. We have always enjoyed the parade together and it is one of the best parades around,” closed JoAnn. “We are looking forward to the big day. It will be great!” 





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