MOUNT CARROLL – Denver Sr. and Ida (Krauss) Traum gave birth to Conrad Traum on October 26, 1932 in Lanark Denver. The parents wandered around a little before settling east and south of Milledgeville. Here his love for horses began to grow.
As a young boy, he walked behind a team of horses pulling a section across a planted grain field. As he grew up, he also loved riding horses. In a special case he bought a neighboring horse that was just a little “wild”. His father asked him, “Why did you buy that thing?” Denver just shrugged. It wasn’t long before he had this horse trained for racing cars. He would drive in the pasture and when a car came down the road the race would be open.
Denver graduated from Milledgeville High School in 1950. He continued to work on the family farm until he volunteered for two years of military service from 1953 to 1955. In Detroit, Michigan, he met his soon-to-be wife, Marlene Miracle. After their release, they traveled back to their hometown in Wellington, Can., Where he briefly worked for the water department.
His love was agriculture, however, and since Marlene was a town girl, he explained to her what agriculture was about and she thought it would be okay to be a farmer. They moved back to Milledgeville and were married on November 16, 1956 in the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa. They rented a farm northwest of Mount Carroll and ran it with a team of mules, a few tractors. Here, on September 1st, 1957, Marlene gave birth to a daughter, Cindy Jo.
After three years, an opportunity arose on a 400-acre dairy north-east of Milledgeville. He literally worked his tail off for three years, milking 60 head of cows and farming the land. In December 1962, Denver and Marlene decided to sell. Somebody asked Denver what he was going to do. He said, “I think I would like to work in the hills.” In early 1963, Denver and Marlene bought a farm on Polsgrove Road, RR 3, Mount Carroll. A few months later, Mark Allen was born on May 2nd. This is where the rest of Denver lived.
Given Denver’s aptitude and talents, he had a knack for repairing and repairing worn out machinery. He loved the challenge of buying a piece of machinery that had seen its better days and then getting it working again. He converted manure spreaders, built a hay conveyor for the barn, made horsepower, and created a single-row, horse-drawn, ground-powered corn picker! These are just tiny examples of the things Denver created and made on the farm.
When Denver moved to Polsgrove, there always had to be horses on the farm. From manure transport to sewing oats, planting maize, growing maize, mowing hay, raking hay, cutting maize with the maize binder to collecting and unloading hay, oats and maize with the horses. Horses always worked on the farm. Denver also drove a rendering truck, a job he had for nearly 35 years.
In the early 1980s, Denver began fulfilling a lifelong dream of raising registered blond Belgians to work and show on the farm. He was able to acquire and raise a few stallions, enough to take part in most hitch classes on a hitch wagon he had made himself from a farm walnut. This show car and farm came to be known as Woodland Hills Farm. He absolutely loved showing his horses at the three fairs – Carroll, Boone, and Whiteside.
Although Denver was very fond of the farm and the horses, he was equally dedicated to his family. Denver and Marlene went their separate ways in 1969, but their love for their children never wavered.
As children, we always had more than enough to get ahead. Our father took on the responsibility of raising two young children as single parents. He never complained, as always, took responsibility directly. His references were straight to the point and then went on in love.
He never held anything against us and was there to shape us into our own passions in life. Then he liked to take a step back and watch and be amazed as his daughter and son grew up. Denver was the anchor Cindy and Mark could always rely on.
Denver had a special way of seeing people for who they are and where they are and loving them the same way. This was evident when spouses came. Cindy married John Peterson and Mark married Teresa Bellich. The grandchildren held up to their hearts. Hannah, he claimed, got all of her book smarts from him. We don’t know how. Denver was barely a “C” student in high school and that’s humble. Hannah was a valedictorian from Sycamore High. She then did her doctorate. He was very proud of her and her accomplishments. Karissa was in the choir in high school and Grandpa loved to see her perform whenever he could. He told her his favorite song they sang was Chapel of Love. Karissa married Todd Matteson and together they brought Denver a great grandchild, Parker. When they came into the room as a family, you could see the light in his eyes. Of course, Parker stole the show. Parker made little fuss, and Denver was always amazed. Eli also had his own special gifts. Eli started playing guitar and opening microphones at Charlie’s II in Mount Carroll. Eli of all people loved old country music. Denver marveled at Eli and how quickly he could pick up, play, and sing songs by ear. They wrote two songs together, although it was really special when they sang “I Saw The Light” by Hank Williams together.
Everything that is written is really great, but best of all, the name of Denver Conrad Dream is written in God’s Book of Life. He believed that Jesus died on the cross for his sins. This was most evident because when he was asked to give verses in scripture at his mother’s funeral. John 3:16 was given first: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
After a brief illness, Denver went home to be with his Savior on March 29, 2020. Life in Denver touched many family members and friends. He will be greatly missed by a sister, Marlyn (dream) Gleim from Sterling; two children, Cindy (John) Peterso of Sycamore and Mark (Teresa) Dream of Mount Carroll; three grandchildren, Hannah Peterson from Boston, Mass., Karissa (Todd) Matteson from Durand, and Eli Traum from Mount Carroll; a great-grandson, Parker Matteson; and many extended family members.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family urges donations to the Covid-19 Research Gates Foundation, Gates Philanthropy Partners, PO Box 23350, Seattle, WA 98102.
A memorial / festive service will take place at a later date.