John and Olive Westhues

Kenneth Westhues

Written in 1993 for a volume of community history being compiled at that time in Glasgow, Missouri. The book did not materialize. Updated and adapted for publication on the web in August 2003, in the Tributes section of the K. Westhues Homepage.

John Westhues was born on a farm northeast of Glasgow in 1895, the eighth child of Wilhelm Westhues (1848-1921) and Theresa Peters (1858-1926), immigrants who had arrived from Westphalen, Germany, three years earlier. After six years in St. Mary's School, John worked full-time on his parents' farm.

Olive Conran was born near High Hill, Missouri, in 1902, the first child of John Conran (1872-1955) and Bertha Whitman (1876-1915). In 1910, she moved with her parents to Colorado, where the family homesteaded the following spring. After her mother's death, Olive moved with her father and brothers to Glasgow, arriving here in 1918. She was the first graduate of the new St. Mary's School (Grade 10), and then attended Glasgow High School.

John and Olive were married in 1922, and built their home on 100 acres just to the east of his birthplace. There they remained until John's death in 1970. In 1971, Olive sold the farm to Delbert and Sue Himmelberg, and moved to 310 Third Street, Glasgow. She died in 2003.

John and Olive had six children:
(1) John, Jr., born in 1923, married Betty Trammel in 1954, and had three children (Margie, Johnna, Becky), along with three from Betty's previous marriage (Carolyn, Mickey, Doris). Working for Army Finance and IBM in the 1950s, John, Jr., was part of the first generation of computer scientists. At the time of his death in 1976, he was an executive for Chrysler Corporation in Detroit. He had won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in World War II.
(2) James F., born in 1924, married Vada Stagner in 1951, and had four children (James M., Jane, Sandi, and Kevin). Jim became the top Fuller Brush salesman in the United States, and stayed with that company until 1973, as manager in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. He later opened an insurance agency in Kansas City.
(3) Eugene, born in 1926, married Juanita Kennett in 1957, and had three children (Doug, Debra, and Kristy). Having learned civil engineering at what was then called the Rolla School of Mines, Gene had a long career with the Missouri Highway Department in Jefferson City. He retired in 1988, as the State Utilities Engineer.
(4) Dolores, born in 1929, married Rudi Wadle in 1956, and had four children (Jeffrey, Karen, Sheila, Randy). A graduate of the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery, Rudi practiced medicine, specializing in proctology, in his hometown of Union, New Jersey. He and Dolores then retired to Sarasota, Florida.
(5) Margie, born in 1932, married an engineer from St. Charles, Missouri, John Boschert, in 1961, and had three children (Mike, Judy, Joe). After a seven-year stay in Connecticut, they returned to Missouri in 1974. Jack worked for Merchants' Refrigeration in St. Louis. Margie died in 1992.
(6) Kenneth, born in 1944, moved to Canada in 1970, married Anne Dietz in 1972, and had one son, Jonathan. Ken has been a sociology professor at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, since 1975, and Anne a social work professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in the same city, since 1985.

John and Olive's farm was the scene of many businesses. In 1926, they planted a demonstration orchard for Stark's Delicious apples, a new cultivar that was to become among the most popular in America. During the Depression, they raised turkeys by the Billings Method, using a brooder and commercial mash. John developed a small coal mine on the farm, and kept breeding stock for colts and mules. In later life he raised mainly beef cattle, though also tobacco and grain. He was a sober, steadfast, hard-working farmer, much in love with the land. An early advocate of contour plowing, he worked with Agricultural Extension in experiments toward erosion control and wildlife conservation. Hunting was one of his passions. Baseball was another; he and his sons were well known on local teams.

Olive worked not only as a farm wife but also, commencing in 1945, as supervisor of the Community Cannery, a federal project assisting families to preserve foods in tin. She managed the cafeteria at Glasgow High School from its inception until 1956, and later sold World Book Encyclopedia. Especially in later years, Olive indulged her love for travel, making many trips to and with her children throughout the U.S.A. and to Italy, Martinique, Newfoundland, and the Emerald Isle from which her grandfather had come.