CHARLES VORNHOLT, 6233 Underwood Avenue S.W., Cedar Rapids, Iowa died on July 9,1990 at the age of 88. Before retiring in 1975 he had farmed near Solon, Iowa most of his life. He was also a well known carpenter and cabinetmaker.
A man of many talents, Charlie was an excellent musician early in life. His musical abilities extended to transposing and harmonizing melodies for a local band.
Always fascinated with steam and gas power, he attended the first Midwest Old Thresher's Reunion at Mt. Pleasant in 1951, missing only once since that time. He was active in several engine clubs, and was a charter member of the Midwest Gas Engine and Tractor Association. Several years ago he was honored as Thresherman of the Year at the Midwest Old Thresher's Reunion, and in May 1990 Charlie was named Exhibitor of the Year at the Usher's Ferry Show in Cedar Rapids.
In the 1950's Charlie began collecting parts for a freelance steamer. After acquiring a two-cylinder engine from a Buffalo-Springfield steam roller, he bought a new Lookout vertical boiler in 1958. That year was the first of many times his steamer was in action at the Mt. Pleasant Show. In 1970 he completed a smaller single cylinder freelance steamer, and it too saw many parades and exhibitions.
About 1970 Charlie began exhibiting gas engines, and his wooden Maytag washer and 1 HP R & V engine were on display for nearly twenty seasons at Mt. Pleasant.
Charlie was also a virtual walking encyclopedia of the farm machinery business, and was able to relate the specs of almost any steam engine or gas tractor, when it was built, when it was changed or modified, plus a lot of background information on this equipment. Through numerous books and articles over the past twenty-five years, this writer often called on Charlie for information and background, and in many ways he was my mentor. I never told Charlie (he probably would have been embarrassed), but many of the historical catchlights in our writings came from my many conversations with him.
Now the covert becomes manifest-in his quiet manner, Charlie added, and will continue to add, new dimensions to our work. For this writer, for his family, and his many friends, Charlie Vornholt truly left his mark. That indeed is a rare achievement.
Submitted by Charles H. Wendel, RR 1, Atkins, Iowa 52206.