DeAnn (Wolkow) Kruempel grew up the youngest of six children on a farm seven miles outside of De Smet. Her column “Nooks and Crannies” is published every week in this newspaper, as well as the Missouri Valley Times-News and the Platte Enterprise. She has also just published her fifth book in the “Promises to Keep” series of historical fiction.
Kruempel attended elementary school in Erwin and graduated in 1972 from De Smet High School. She attended South Dakota State University in Brookings for one year before getting married and moving to North Dakota. The couple later settled in Iowa and had five daughters.
She said she has special memories of going to the De Smet City Library and the librarian, Ida Belzer, whom she describes as a sweet lady who helped her pick out books. At that time, the library was located in the building that later housed De Smet City Hall and is now Prairie Town Gifts. She said she brought home books from the library and shared them with her mother.
Kruempel worked at The De Smet News after school and on Saturdays when she was in high school. She said the editor and publisher, Aubrey Sherwood, was a big promoter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and one of her main duties at the newspaper was to send out packets with information about Wilder to people who wrote requesting it. She said Wilder’s writings influenced her.
Her love of reading led her to a career as a librarian even before it led to her writing career. She began working at a public library when her youngest of five daughters started kindergarten more than 30 years ago and has also worked as a school librarian. She is presently the children’s librarian at the Missoula Valley Public Library in Missouri Valley, Iowa.
Her home is about a four-hour drive from De Smet. Once or twice a year, she gets together with her brother and three sisters in or around De Smet. Her brothers Delmer and Don stayed in De Smet. Don passed away a few years ago, but his wife, Judy, still lives in rural De Smet. Her sisters live in Arlington, Custer and in Michigan.
During these visits, the siblings spend a lot of time reminiscing about their childhoods.
She had wanted to write a book for some time, but she said inspiration for her first novel came about after a sibling reunion a few years ago.
“The drive home on I-29 is pretty uneventful, except for Sioux Falls and Sioux City,” she noted. During one long drive, thinking about the latest memories churning around in her brain, she came up with a story. She got home, sat down and pretty much wrote it in one night.
“Promises to Keep” was published in 2018 and was followed with “Promises Challenged,” “Promises Strengthened,” “Promises in Courage” and now “Promises Under Fire.”
While the stories are fiction, they are based on real life situations in rural America during World War II. Since she was not born yet, the stories are inspired not only by her own family’s memories, but by the memories of others.
“For my last book, I interviewed a lady I know who just turned 100,” Kruempel said. The woman had taught in a one-room schoolhouse during World War II and told her about going out with the children to gather milkweed pods for the war effort. The floss inside milkweed pods is waterproof and buoyant and was used to fill soldiers’ life jackets and flight suits. Kruempel used this information in her latest novel.
“I wrote about things I felt were important,” she said, adding that talking to people made her want to keep their memories alive and not forgotten for future generations.
About becoming a published author, Kruempel said, “It was a dream I had that finally went to fruition.”
Kruempel’s books can be found on Amazon in paperback form or as downloadable eBooks. She hopes to come to De Smet someday for a book-signing when COVID-19 lifts.
Her column, “Nooks and Crannies,” is a new enterprise. She said that when COVID first hit, she decided to try writing a column for the duration of the pandemic. What she thought might be a two-or three-month gig is turning into a longer commitment.
While we at the Kingsbury Journal certainly look forward to COVID-19 ending, we are happy we have “Nooks and Crannies” for our readers’ enjoyment for however long it lasts.