May 7, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Doris Romaine Yach of Cedar Ridge is celebrating her 100th birthday on May 9. Sharp, humble, and an easy-going conversation, Yach said she’s “taking it one day at a time.”
“It creeps up on you,” she said about age. “I didn’t do anything special. When the doctor says, ‘How are you?’ I say the bottom half needs a little help, but the top half is doing OK.”
Born in Campbellsport in 1919 to Edgar and Hedwig Romaine, Yach grew up on a farm, the oldest of three children. She went to a small schoolhouse, spent a year at UW-Madison and then on to UW-Whitewater where she met her husband in a journalism class.
Doris Romaine married Harry J. Yach on July 3, 1943 when she was 24 years old. The couple had six children and Yach qualified herself as “the traditional housewife.”
“There wasn’t a ‘me’ for many years… it was always the kids first,” said Yach. “I tell them today I missed doing a lot of things I should have been doing but I was the typical housewife and the kids came first.”
The kids came home every day for lunch said Yach. All six went to Catholic grade school and high school and some went on to college with her support.
“We always knew she would help but she also taught us how to be self-sufficient and rely on ourselves to deal with problems,” said son David Yach.
While recalling the importance of family, Yach leans heavy into recollections about her German heritage including her grandfather from West Bend.
“My West Bend grandfather, Henry Opgenorth, was one of the four men who started the insurance company in 1894 when they had the big fire down in the business section. My grandfather said we’re not going to pay the premiums to the big-city people, we’re going to start our own insurance company,” she said.
Below is an article from the Ziegler Company web page citing an early start to a business with Ben Ziegler.
The Ziegler Companies, Inc. provides a complete range of investment services and is widely regarded as the largest institutional bond underwriter in the United States, not to mention the largest investment banking firm for healthcare finance outside Wall Street.
In 1902, West Bend, Wisconsin, was a small bustling mill town famous for the hotels it had built to put up travelers making the two-day trip between Milwaukee and Fond du Lac. The son of a hotelier and county treasurer, 18-year-old Ben Ziegler had been selling fire insurance policies to area farmers and merchants to supplement his income as an assistant for the county’s treasurer and register of deeds. In 1902 an insurance agency owned by a friend of Ziegler’s father ran into financial trouble; as the agency’s co-signer, Ziegler’s father assumed its debt and the responsibility for finding a new agent for the business. Despite Ben’s young age, Ziegler’s father made Ben that new agent, and the young entrepreneur promptly began selling insurance policies to area businesses out of a room in his father’s hotel. By 1905 Ben had saved up $6,500, which he used to pay off his father’s farm and saloon, and a home for him two years later. By 1906 Ziegler and his former employer in the insurance business, Henry Opgenorth, formed a new agency, Opgenorth and Ziegler, which fell apart only 18 months later after disagreements over the business. Opgenorth and Ziegler split the territories and went their separate ways.
Yach’s grandfather died in 1925.
Doris married Harry J. Yach on July 3, 1943. She was 24 years old. “We met in journalism class at UW-Whitewater,” she said. “He always had a pipe.”
While most of Yach’s immediate family have died she still has her children, 15 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Yach’s daughter-in-law, Nancy, said “Yach was strict but loving. Her kids could come to her with anything,” she said.
“Doris still sends birthday cards to all the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other friends and relatives,” said David A. Yach. “Doris instilled in me the importance of reading and learning something new every day. Being the teacher, we had no choice.”
About 80 people visited for Yach’s 100th birthday party including children, grandchildren, relatives and friends from California, Washington, Phoenix, Colorado, Massachusetts, Arizona, Illinois, and Minnesota.
I keep busy and knitted 25 dish clothes for the craft room at Cedar Ridge.
“I’m proud of my family as a unit,” said Yach. “They’ve all worked hard and they will come to me and say ‘My work ethic… I got from you.’ They’re all good kids.”
“Through the years the friendships are important,” said Yach.
David Yach said his mother is “dependable, resilient and caring.”
“As my mother has aged she has been an inspiration to me by never complaining and always dealing with age-related problems with a smile on her face,” said David Yach.