Orville Melvin Ayen, age 92 of Blanchardville was born at home in Town of York on April 24, 1924, and passed away from kidney failure with Hospice care on November 28th, 2016 at the Pleasant View Nursing Home outside of Monroe. The first born of three children to Oscar and Nellie (Moen) Ayen Jr., Orville grew up attending the Moscow Township School. On May 28th, 1939, Orville was confirmed at the Blanchardville Lutheran Church. He attended his freshman year at Blanchardville High School and was enjoying his studies and playing football, but then, due to the Great Depression, was pulled from school in 1939 to work on the family farm and hired out to surrounding farms. He always regretted not being able to finish high school, but was proud of making a grown man’s wage of 50 cents a day.
Orville enlisted on August 11, 1945 in the regular Army and completed his Infantry training at Camp Fannin, Texas. He was then reassigned to Camp Pickett in Virginia before being shipped overseas. In Virginia while doing more field training, he injured his knee jumping a stream in full gear. While in the hospital, he meet a nurse, his future wife, Anne Ruby DeSander. While stationed in Europe, Sergeant Orville M. Ayen, Company C 388th Military Police Service Battalion, served as a guard of condemned American and German soldiers at a POW camp in Würzburg Germany.
Later, he road and guarded railroad cars, and while in France, Orville cleaned up bodies out of the tunnels along the Rhine River. Orville returned to the United States from Holland on the General Harry Taylor, landing at Staten Island. He was discharged from Military service at Fort Dix, New Jersey on May 2, 1947 at 1:45.
Orville and Anne had exchanged many letters during his time of service in Europe, and while she always said she wouldn’t marry a farmer, Orville always told her she could never shake the hay seeds from his hair. Anne did pack her suitcase, and come for a visit...and then sent for another suitcase. Orville and Anne were married July 5th, 1947, at the Blanchardville Lutheran Church with many of her family in attendance. As a part of the GI Bill, Orville took some agricultural courses, and was one of the first in the Blanchardville farming community to use crop rotation and contour strips. He also bought one of the first tractors to be used when it was common to use horses. They spent all of their married life farming in the Blanchardville area and raising their family. In addition to his love of farming, Orville also loved fishing, boating, waterskiing, hunting, snowmobiling, making and flying radio controlled airplanes, and woodworking. Orville was always quick to pull out his American Legion membership card as a continuous 66 year member of the Blanchardville 0142 Post. Orville also proudly served on the Iowa County Board of Supervisors for some years. Eventually they moved to their smaller 80 acer farm to slow down and allow themselves some time to travel the U.S., Canada, and Europe. While in Europe, they were able to visit Anne’s parents’ home towns of Ghent and Bruges Belgium in addition to many other countries of Europe. In 1992, Anne developed cancer, and Orville lovingly took care of her through her 2 1\2 year battle of radiation and chemo treatments. On August 20, 1996, Anne died after 49 years of marriage.
As a widower, Orville developed a special relationship with a childhood friend and neighbor, Clara Hanson, who had also lost her husband, Robert, years before. They soon moved in together and spent the next 19 years enjoying each other’s company, bowling, taking a few trips to Texas, making memories with both Clara’s family and his own, and playing cards with local friends. He always said they kept each other going, and that they were good for each other.
Orville is preceded in death by an infant daughter, Joan Ruby Ayen born September 27, 1949, who lived only 13 days; his sister, Doris Mae Campbell of Madison; his wife, Anne (DeSander) Ayen; and his parents, Oscar and Nellie Ayen Jr.
Surviving is one brother, Robert Ayen, St. Mary’s Care Center, Madison. One son, Thomas O. (Vivian) Ayen, West Allis, WI. Grandsons: Aaron Phillip Ayen, Florideo, MN, and Patrick Thomas Ayen of Jackson, MN. One daughter, Judy Ann (Douglas) Kiel, Blanchardville. Grandchildren: Scott D. (Anita Taylor) Kiel of Madison, Amber M. (Casey Bushard) Kiel from Minneapolis, MN. Pamela A. (Gregory) Massaro, and three Great Granddaughters: Malena, Sophia, and Freya Massaro of Fort Collin, Co. His special friend and companion, Clara Hanson, Blanchardville.
A visitation for Orville Ayen will be held on Friday evening, December 2 from 4:30 until 7:00 PM at the Saether Funeral Home in Blanchardville. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 11:00 AM at the New Hope Lutheran Church (formerly Blanchardville Lutheran) in Blanchardville. Rev. Michelle Elefers will officiate. Burial will be in the Graceland Cemetery in Blanchardville with military honors by the United States Army and the Dobson-Johnson American Legion Post.
The Saether Funeral Home in Blanchardville is assisting the family. Online memories and condolences can be shared with the family at www.saetherfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in honor of Orville Ayen to the Blanchardville Legion Post 0142.