Helen Demulling honored as Ox Cart Days grand marshal
Between traveling, quilting, gardening, monthly lunch with high school friends, cooking and coordinating family get-togethers, it is a wonder 80-year-old Helen Demulling has time to oversee festivities as grand marshal at this year’s Ox Cart Days in Star Prairie.
“Was I surprised? Oh yes, definitely,” said Demulling of the call she received from Lions Club member Chris Boardman asking her if she would accept this year’s honor.
This is not Demulling’s first time around as a grand marshal. She served in the same capacity at the City of New Richmond’s request back in 2004 just after she retired. Demulling worked first as deputy clerk treasurer and eventually as clerk treasurer for New Richmond during her career, which spanned four decades. Throw in her Citizen of the Year Award back in 2001, her stint as Star Prairie village president from 2003-05, and Demulling is well qualified to handle her duties as grand marshal.
Although she enjoyed her job, family was always the most important thing to Demulling and her husband Don, who passed away in 2010. Seven children, 19 grandchildren and 28 greatgrandchildren define the legacy that she and Don built during their 57 years together.
“My family is the highlight of my life. I am so blessed. It is a gift and I truly treasure it everyday of my life,” said Demulling.
While Demulling was busy keeping track of cash for the city and Don was running the family dairy farm located on the St. Croix/Polk county line, they managed to raise Don Jr., Joyce, Randy, Mike, Carol, Greg and Larry in their spare time.
Helen and Don built a new home on Cedar Lake in 1979, then moved to Star Prairie 17 years later into a house next to a creek Don spotted just south of Russell’s Sport & Bike.
You might better recognize the Demulling household in winter when it is bedecked with a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decorations. Helen is able to carry on the tradition she loves with a little help from her children and grandchildren.
“I love to do the Christmas lights. I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. When other people enjoy it too, it makes you feel good,” said Demulling.
To make the winters more bearable, Helen took up quilting, in a serious way. Among the quilts to her credit are a Green Bay Packersthemed quilt made for daughter Joyce signed by four Packers; a bear hunting quilt for Don Jr. to commemorate that hunting experience he shared with his father; and a farm-themed quilt for son Randy current operator of the family farm.
“I used pieces of shirts and pants his dad wore while farming to make that quilt. As long as I live I will keep making them. It’s part of the healing process and of course I enjoy it and it makes the winters a little better,” said Demulling.
After the snow has left town, Helen gets her hands dirty gardening; she loves her flowers.
“I’m just creating a new one (garden) and my daughter and great-granddaughter were here this morning helping me with it,” said Demulling.
In her spare time, Helen recently managed to squeeze in a four-generation, twoweek trip to the West.
“With my daughter Joyce, granddaughter Missy and my great-granddaughter Natalie, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. We just got back last Saturday. How many people are fortunate enough to be able to take a four-generation trip and we’ve done it now for three years. We have a wonderful time together,” said Demulling.
As for the large following of family and friends likely to be lining the parade route, she is confident her wave will holdup.
“I think I can manage,” said a confident Demulling.
Helen doesn’t think her new celebrity will change how friends and neighbors treat her, maybe aside from the occasional autograph.
“I thoroughly enjoy living here. I enjoy the people and the friendly atmosphere. When you walk down the street, people still wave and call out to you, stop and visit with you. They make you feel at home,” said Demulling.