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A tractor parade in Shiocton honors a farmer in hospice

Posted at 10:07 PM, Aug 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-10 14:17:12-04

SHIOCTON (NBC 26) — A family in Shiocton is preparing to lose the patriarch of their farm. Wednesday, a tractor parade was put on for their loved one in his final days surrounded by his family, including his grand-daughter, Emie Phillips, who dreads losing her Grandpa, Niles Kettner.

"I don't know how to explain it except for that it's going to be hard. Even just thinking about it... It's going to be hard. It's going to be different," Phillips said.

Niles' hospice nurse, Heidi Tisdale, could see the family's love for Niles and his love for John Deere. She came up with the idea for the parade as she knows how important the last few days with a loved one are.

"The memories that the family is going to pull back on, those are the things that they are going to remember," Tisdale said. "It's that smile, that night, that day, that event that brought them that smile."

The idea started as a few tractors and his nurse wearing a John Deere hat, but after a post to Facebook, it has expanded into more than two dozen tractors on the farm.

"We really thought this was going to be small but it sounds like it's going to be big", Phillips said. "A Facebook post turned into a huge thing. Shared multiple, multiple times and here we are."

Kendall Koehnke saw that post and drove a half hour in his tractor for Niles.

"I thought this was a great event to get in and give a guy his one last wish, you know." Koehnke said. "Getting to see something like this, it's pretty amazing."

"He's always been a role model and anything I can do to make him smile, I'll do," Phillips said.

With as much as Niles means to the family, the community showing out was special to Phillips.

"It means a lot to us, you know, people that we don't even know. Just the farming community coming together for one man that they don't even know. It means a lot," Phillips said.