Stagecoach Trail Road

A tractor cuts weeds Tuesday along Stagecoach Trail Road near Truman Emmelkamp's home.

MANHATTAN — Friends and neighbors described a Manhattan man who was hit by a car Saturday night as a hardworking, faithful and generous.

Truman Emmelkamp, 76, was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver Saturday evening while he was out for a walk along Stagecoach Trail Road, not far from his home.

Emmelkamp had a dairy here and was never not on the farm, said Walt Sales, a neighbor who “farms across the fence.” A friend estimated he had at least 50 cows. Emmelkamp had recently retired from the dairy business.

Sales said Emmelkamp was “what you would picture of a dairyman his age.” Sales said he was a hard-working and generous man, noting that Emmelkamp would often place a “free” sign for vegetables at the end of “Neverest Lane” — the moniker Emmelkamp gave his driveway.

Sometimes he’d leave vegetables in the mailbox for his mail carrier, Sales said.

Sales recalled a time during calving season when his truck got stuck as he was spreading straw on his ranch. Emmelkamp wasn’t home but his tractor was closest to where Sales was stuck. Sales borrowed it to pull his truck out.

“He came home about the time I was bringing the tractor back and he never had a problem with that,” Sales said. “He was fine with me borrowing his equipment to help me out of a bind.”

Sales said they always laughed because Emmelkamp never really stopped working. Sales said Emmelkamp was always doing something on his farm, whether that was tending to his garden or mowing his lawn.

“He was just the type that loved his dairy,” he said, “And loved his farm, that way of life and what it provided. And he lived it up to the end.”

Bernard and Pearl Cole remember Emmelkamp that way, too. The couple lives at the Churchill Retirement Home now, but they once hired the teenage Emmelkamp to work their farm to do “whatever you do in the summertime on the farm.”

Bernard and Pearl said Emmelkamp was always jolly, and ready to talk. And he never complained about the work, Bernard added.

Bernard remembered one summer — Pearl said it was 1961 — when it was hotter than 100 degrees. Emmelkamp was out “working hay” so hard his face turned “terrible red.”

“They were working with bales on the ground, and I said, ‘Oh, I hope he doesn’t pass out here,’” Pearl said.

Emmelkamp went to Sunday services with his wife, Vivian, at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Churchill.

Steve Bussis, the pastor, said Emmelkamp was faithful to the commitments and people in his life.

Bussis recalled when Emmelkamp’s wife had back surgery a couple years ago.

“Truman was just a picture of a faithful, loving husband, caring for his wife. It was a treat to see that,” Bussis said.

Attempts to reach Emmelkamp’s family Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Freddy Monares can be reached at or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.