My Dad Was My Hero


by Laurel Latham

Tammie Siedschlag Doebler grew up on a farm 18 miles east of Mahnomen.

"My dad was a grain farmer. We had horses, goats, sheep, pigs, geese and chickens. Everything but cows," recalls Tammie. "We lived on my grandparent's homestead. Farming and being elected county commissioner for twenty-some years kept Dad busy."

But not too busy to take his kids fishing!

"Dad taught us all to fish. I still love fishing and being on the lake," smiles Tammie. "I was a daddy's girl. He was my hero.

"Dad enjoyed woodworking and construction, so I learned how to build things and fix whatever needed to be done on the farm," said Tammie. "He wanted his kids to be capable. It didn't matter that I was a girl. Growing up with brothers and male cousins turned me into a tomboy."

On Father's Day, Tammie and her brothers often got together to purchase their dad's gift.

"That year we bought a porch swing," reports Tammie. "The swing is still being used at Mom's house."

In 2004, when David Siedschlag's kidneys began failing, Tammie and her brothers once again got together, this time to decide who would be tested for compatibility for a kidney donation to their dad.

"David didn't want a kidney from one of his kids," explained Tammie's mother, Marge. "But they got together and decided they wanted to donate a kidney so David didn't have to stay on dialysis for the rest of his life."

"Heart disease runs in my dad's family," said Tammie. "Dad was also diabetic. When he got an infection in his heart, it damaged his kidneys. My older brother Ron, my youngest brother Brian, and I planned to test to see who was most compatible to donate. Jeff and Steve are special needs, so they weren't considered.

"I tested first," continued Tammie. "At the time I was the director of the mentoring program and could work from home. Ron had two little ones, although his co-workers volunteered to donate vacation days if he needed them. Brian's job also agreed to give him time off. But there was no need for my brothers to test because I was a good match for kidney donation to Dad.

"The surgery took place in Fargo on May 20th," said Tammie. "From then on, Dad and I would celebrate that day. I checked into the hospital at 5:30 a.m., Dad checked in at 7 a.m. I expected a more difficult recovery, but it wasn't that bad at all. I just had a six inch scar and I had to rest more often during recovery."

"David had stitches, but Tammie was super glued," reports Marge. "David started feeling better right away!"

David and Marge Siedschlag first met at a wedding in July 1967. "I flew back to Minnesota from Washington state for my cousin Dick's wedding to Charlotte," explained Marge. "David was Dick's best man. We really hit if off that weekend. In September David moved to Washington and worked at Boeing. We were married at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Kirkland, Wa. July 20, 1968. After a year David wanted to move back to Minnesota and I agreed to the move. I had more relatives in Minnesota than I did in Washington. David was a very loving and gentle man. He was such a good husband and dad and so good with the kids, always patient and kind. We were married for 48 years."

"I remember Dad being so willing to help others," said Tammie. "We lived on a curve and through the years, day or night, he would start up the tractor or truck, depending what was needed, and pull people who had missed the curve, out of the ditch.

"Dad came from sturdy stock," continued Tammie. "His own dad, August, died of a heart attack quite young. My grandma, Anna, was expecting her sixth child at the time. With the help of family, grandma lived on the farm and raised six kids. When her last child was grown, she moved to Kirkland, Wa. and lived with Dad's sister Lois. Grandma attended college and became an LPN. She must have been in her fifties at the time, but that didn't slow her down!"

Tammie has a treasured memory of attending the Father-Daughter Dance in Warroad with her dad.

"I was also helping at the dance and Dad wanted to help out too, so I put him to work cutting bars," Tammie laughed. "He enjoyed helping out. It was very special getting to dance with my dad that day. That must have been 2014 or 2015. Dad passed October 31, 2016. He would have been seventy-one on November 7th."

Tammie Doebler recently began a new job as Court Reporter in the 9th Judicial District Court for Judge Shermoen in International Falls.

"I've watched Court TV for years," explained Tammie. "Not the TV shows, but real trials. I had transitioned from director of the mentoring program into the Coalition Coordinator for Roseau County, then moved to Lake of the Woods School in 2011 as Coalition Coordinator. Part of my job was to attend Treatment Court. When the 9th Judicial District Court Reporter retired, I was encouraged to apply for the job. I earned my state certification and was hired. I know my dad would be proud of my new job. He would always tell me he is proud of what I do. I love my new job, but miss my friends in Warroad."


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