Fred Vantiger

Written by Theresa Rose on October 7, 2020

Fred Joseph Vantiger, 78, passed away in the arms of his wife on Sunday Evening, October 4, 2020, on the farm near Yarmouth that he was so proud of.

He entered this life, the third child of Ben and Angela Fedler Vantiger on January, 24 1942, in Lee County at Sacred Heart Hospital in Fort Madison. Ben moved the family to the Mt. Union area in 1945 with the help of Uncle Joe, where the land was more fertile and room to grow. Since he was old enough to handle a team of horses or steer an F-20, Fred found his passion in farming. He began farming along with his brothers, raising crops, livestock and hauling grain for hire.

Fred graduated from Yarmouth High School in 1960 and married his high school sweetheart, Anita Wilkerson, on November 5, 1960, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Dodgeville, Iowa. They took a honeymoon trip to Florida in their ’56 Oldsmobile spending only $160. They returned to the farm to begin a family and remained there for nearly 60 years. He became a respected and outstanding farmer in the Yarmouth area. His rows were straight, the corn was tall and the farm was pristinely mowed. He continued farming until his death with the help of his son Mike.

He used his knowledge of cars and mechanics during the farm crisis and started selling cars on the farm to supplement income. “Fast Freddie” obtained a car dealer’s license in 1980. He later moved the business to Danville in 1984 and started Country Cars II. For several years he held an Ag Day at the shop to celebrate agriculture and support scholarships for local students pursuing agricultural studies in college. He loved going to farm and car auctions with Anita, and he could predict the value of whatever was being sold from the data base in his mind.

He was always supporting the Yarmouth Community in which he lived. In the late 1970’s he started a Recreation Center in the Old Yarmouth General Store for the community to gather. He was co-owner of the Yarmouth Cafe with other local farmers for a time in an attempt to keep it going. He was a member of the Mt. Union Coop and Des Moines County Farm Bureau.

Aside from cheerleading in high school with Anita and his best friend, Charles “Butch” Tonkinson, he developed a passion for singing. He began singing in Barbershop, the church choir, family weddings; and he and Anita became a fixture singing and entertaining at the Golden Slipper Saloon in the North Village at Old Threshers for over 50 years. His daughter Julie and granddaughters now carry on the tradition. Early on he drove the camp ground trains with his father- in-law “Toad” Wilkerson and enjoyed camping. He enjoyed helping his son Dean exhibit gas engines and parading the Wilkerson Family Ford Tractor. Fred and Anita were recognized as Outstanding Old Thresher volunteers in 2006.

Fred enjoyed traveling out west with Anita on many adventures to Arizona and Wyoming to visit friends and “adopted” family. In 1997 Fred had a spiritual calling to participate in the Mormon Trail Reenactment. He returned home to pick up Anita, and they rode into Salt Lake City, Utah.

What Fred enjoyed most was when family crowded his home for holiday gatherings and special events.

He is survived by those he dearly loved and completed his life: His wife Anita;

Children: Dean (Juanita Phipps) Vantiger, Mike (Sandy) Vantiger, Julie (John) Hicks;

Grandchildren: Lisa (Jon) Wolf, Cody (Katlyn) Vantiger, Jonna, Joslyn, and Jacey Hicks, Alayna and Lyndi Vantiger; great-grandchildren; Owen, Noah and Luka.

Brother James (Georgianna) Vantiger and sister Wilma (Larry) Anderson and sister-in-law Frieda Vantiger.

His great-grandson Theo Wolf, brother Robert Vantiger, and parents preceded him in death.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Mr. Vantiger will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 10th at St. Mary Catholic Church, Dodgeville.   The Very Rev. Father Marty Goetz will be celebrant.  Due to current social distancing guidelines, seating will be limited at the church. Interment will be in Trinity Cemetery, rural Mt. Union.  Visitation will be from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Friday, October 9th at Lunning Chapel where family will receive friends, and from 9:00-10:30 a.m. Saturday at the church.  A celebration of life is being planned for November 14, 2020.

Memorials in Fred’s honor will be accepted for a special project in the North Village at Old Threshers, The Danville FFA program and St. Mary’s Church, Dodgeville.