Varel and Shirley are regulars at Zion, sitting up front near the organ. They both come from farm backgrounds.  Shirley was born west of Avoca. Her mother died when she was 4, and her grandparents moved in to help raise the family. She has an older sister, and a younger brother and sister.  After 3 years in country school, she graduated from Shelby in 1955. Shirley than worked in Omaha.  Following her marriage she worked as a secretary at Layne Western in Omaha for 2 years, before they started farming.  Varel was born in Cass County, where the family farmed in Massena.  He was the middle child of 7.  One brother and one sister are still living.  He attended country school through the 8th grade, and graduated from Cumberland in 1951, where he played in the marching band.  Following graduation he rented a farm for a couple of years until he was drafted. His military years were spent in Ft. Benning, Georgia, where he worked as a demolitionist.  They were simulating the A bomb, and this affected Varel’s hearing.   Following the service he worked as a bricklayer for Darland Construction for a few years.  He did the brickwork on the Hall’s flooring building by himself.

Varel and Shirley met at a dance in Avoca in March, 1957.  He asked her to dance, and they then dated every Saturday night until their marriage on December 7, 1957.  Shirley was raised in the Lutheran Church in Oakland, where the women sat on one side and the men on the other.  However it was too small for the wedding.  They were married at the Lutheran Church in Avoca.  Their wedding night was spent in Omaha where, upon learning they were newlyweds, a lady paid for their meal.  They honeymooned in Texas.  They farmed during their married lives, first in Hancock, and then buying a 280 acre farm near Lewis, where they farmed until moving into Atlantic in 2005.

Their children include Dan, married to Brenda, living in Atlantic with 2 children; Dean, living on the farm with 1 child and Lynette, married to Mark, living in Nebraska with 2 children.  They also have 4 great grandchildren.   Varel grew up in the Methodist church and then joined Zion, taken instructions from Pastor Dohrmann. His interests have including hunting and fishing.   He has served as an usher at Zion. In 2003 he survived a serious farm accident when he was pinned between a pickup truck and an ammonia tank.   Shirley, who also worked at Bonnesens for a few years,  likes her cards and plays pinochle with friends from Lewis and Zion.  She had a big garden on the farm, and still loves to do canning and baking. Together they have taking several bus trips, including Niagara Falls and South Padre Island.  They hope to take some additional trips in the future. We wish them God’s blessings in their lives together.