Funeral services for Charles Robert Fenster, 96, of Gering who died Wednesday, February 10, 2016, at The Residency at Northfield Retirement Communities in Scottsbluff will be held at Faith Lutheran Church, 2055 U Street, Gering, Nebraska on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Reverend Richard Neugebauer will be officiating. Burial will be at Chappell Nebraska Cemetery at 2:30 PM.
In lieu of flowers, memorials have been established to: Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail, Gering, Nebraska, 69341, Faith Lutheran Church, 2055 U Street, Gering, Nebraska, 69341 or Gering Park Board, PO Box 687, Gering, Nebraska, 69341. Tributes of sympathy may be left at www.dugankramer.com. Dugan Kramer Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.
Charles Robert Fenster was born July 16, 1919, on a farm 8 miles northwest of Chappell, Nebraska to Alfred Robert Fenster and Alpha Frances Lovell. Charles went to elementary school at Mt. Vernon, and Goodview High School in Deuel County. He frequently rode a horse to and from school, especially when he had basketball practice.
Charles attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln starting in the fall of 1937 and started out in Teacher’s College, but after the first semester changed to the Agricultural College. He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1942 and was then employed as a vocational agriculture teacher in Hooper, where he met and fell in love with Eunice Berggren, the home economics teacher and love of his life. They were married on June 23, 1943, at Fairdale Church outside St. Paul. Later they taught at Stanton and in 1945 moved to Pierce, where Charles worked for the Soil Conservation Service until 1956. They had two children, Larry Fenster, and Kay Fenster, born in 1947 and 1952. He was a kind and loving father, who instilled Christian values in his children, taught them the value of hard work, and gave them the confidence and flexibility to travel and accept differences. He loved to talk, tease people, and spend time with his family.
In 1956, they moved to Alliance where Charles went to work for the University of Nebraska College of Agriculture for the purpose of working on a special project to control wind erosion and dry-land crop systems in western Nebraska at the Box Butte Experiment Station. He eventually became responsible for the High Plains and Box Butte University Laboratories and established the High Plains Agricultural Laboratory, located at the Sioux Army Depot near Sidney. Besides the research he conducted there, he loved to talk to the local farmers about wheat and their use of stubble mulch and all matters concerning farming. As one of the world experts in dry land farming, he traveled to Australia, Morocco, and Turkey in order to help show how local methods could be improved. As a research professor at the University of Nebraska, he also was associated with many students who were studying dry-land farming practices. Charles never passed a wheat field without looking or stopping “to look at the crops” while Eunice and his children waited in the car.
Charles received numerous awards and commendations including:
1972 & 1973: Commendation Award and made a Fellow for the National Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy; 1983: Elected to Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement and joined the Board of Directors; In 1990, was recognized by the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association for his “Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture”; In 2015, the High Plains Agricultural Lab building at the University of Nebraska High Plains Agricultural Laboratory near Sidney, NE, was named as the “Charles R. Fenster Building” in recognition of his UNL pioneering research in dry-land cropping systems.
In 1982, Charles retired but continued consulting with U.S. Aid programs in Morocco and Jordan. He was a longtime active member of the Scottsbluff Kiwanis and Faith Lutheran Church. He was also a member and Chairman of the Gering Park and Cemetery Board since 1970. He was appointed by the Governor to the Antique Farm Equipment Commission and was actively involved in the founding of the Farm and Ranch Museum in Gering, which is now the Legacy of the Plains Museum. Until recently, he could be found at the museum most days.
Charles was preceded in death by his wife Eunice Fenster in 2013.
His survivors include son, Larry and his wife Carol Fenster, grandson Dr. Brett Fenster and his wife Dr. Helke Fenster, and his great grandchildren, Keene, Romi, and Cole. Also daughter, Kay DuBois and her husband Bob, their children Erik DuBois and his wife Sarah, and Stefan DuBois. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends.