by DanWolgemuth on August 11, 2023

While most parents in Suburban Chicago were sending their kids to summer camp, or enrolling them in Little League, my parents had a different plan. The farm. Specifically, the homestead of Jesse and Wilma Dourte, my mother’s younger brother and his wife.

Picture it. Beautiful rural Pennsylvania. Lancaster County. Rolling hills. Full and lush vegetation, with bountiful agriculture. A perfect venue for a young boy (me) to learn the value of hard work, family connections, and an abiding faith in God.

Jesse and Wilma had six children. Five daughters, and a son named Nevin.

Nevin was just over a year younger than me. A perfect companion. Ironically, even as a boy, Nevin was a mentor. A guide. Someone with the assignment of knocking the city out of me.

Nevin was everything that I was not.

He shot guns. He drove large equipment. He knew how to make his own root beer, how to milk cows, how to slop pigs, how to birth colts, and how to manage a field of tomato plants, including the monumental task of harvesting them (his five sisters, four of whom were older, were exceptional at this as well, and I loved them dearly). Even as a boy, he took charge. Nevin had an air of confidence about him that was a magnet to me.

My most exciting summertime activity in Wheaton, Illinois was riding my bicycle in the cloud behind a mosquito fogging truck, or playing “kick the can” with neighbors… so, two weeks on the farm was like visiting a foreign country. With people who loved me and were committed to rounding out my childhood resume.

It worked.

Nevin was gritty, determined, focused and fun. And in so many ways, I was not. Nevin was fearless. And I was not. I needed Nevin Dourte to show me the way… and he did.

I remember unpacking my suitcase when I returned home. I remember the smells of the farm invading my bedroom, even as the memories filled my soul.

Family. Farm. Nevin.

My guide… even as a boy, and now as a man.

It was two weeks ago that I was informed that Nevin had been diagnosed with a complex and sizeable brain tumor. A few days later, surgery at the University of Penn Hospital. Two days later, he was gone.

Nevin with Doneen, his wife of nearly 45 years.

Radiating the confidence that comes from knowing

your life is in the hands of a God who knows and loves you…

Sometimes people show us how to live, and sometimes people show us how to die. And sometimes, the same person shows us both. Nevin.

Confident as a young boy. Confident in the final chapter of life.

More than a cousin. A guide.

And in the vacancy that Nevin leaves, an inspiration to live differently. To live vibrantly. To live hopefully, so that you can die fearlessly.

Nevin. My guide on the farm. My guide to glory. Now in the presence of the God he loves. The God he serves.


Thank you, my friend. You are loved, and you will be missed.

P.S. This 60-year-old video shows my aunt and uncle using a piece of farm equipment to plant tomatoes.  It’s 6-year-old Nevin who is walking behind making sure each plant is properly secure and then using a small tool to ensure the proper placement.  Amazing!

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