By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN After being at home for many years raising 11 children, Eldoris Jaunich can rarely be found at home now.
For the past 30 years, Eldoris has been helping friends, neighbors, and anyone who is in need, by driving them to appointments at clinics and hospitals.
Whether it is driving locally or anywhere in the Twin Cities, it isn’t a problem for her. She enjoys driving to Methodist Hospital, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, or the VA Hospital.
“It doesn’t make me nervous,” said Eldoris Jaunich. “Just so other drivers stay in their lane. I love the city, and driving there doesn’t bother me. I had to be home all those years with the kids and I’m so glad to be out.”
A kid at heart
Eldoris Krause grew up on a farm between Delano and Montrose, where she attended a country school through eighth grade.
She spent much of her time babysitting and cooking for other families. At just 16 years old, she worked for a doctor in Montrose, performing any task asked of her.
With a love for children, and being a kid-at-heart herself, she became a nanny for a family in Minneapolis at 18 years old.
She remained with this family for five years, and thoroughly enjoyed playing with the children. Eldoris admits she has never grown up.
Back to Delano
While attending the “Schaust School,” one of her classmates was Wally Jaunich, and for many years, they attended many dances with groups of friends.
“He (Wally) really couldn’t dance,” she remembered. “Finally, he asked me to teach him how. We didn’t start dating until we started dancing together.”
Through polkas and two-steps, a relationship developed, and about six months later, they were married.
Even though Eldoris would have loved to remain in the city, Wally insisted on raising their family in Delano.
This decision has never been regretted and Eldoris is still in the Delano home they purchased 65 years ago.
Eldoris was obviously busy at home raising 11 children: Steve, John, Barb (Scherer), Joe, Paul, Pat (Czock), Pete, Tom, Charlie, Dave, and Mike.
Wally was always working, as well. As a truck driver, he hauled milk for farmers and beer for a local distributor.
“He worked seven days a week,” she said. “He picked up for the first farmer at 7 a.m. They never had to wonder if he’d be on time. He was just always helping and being handy.”
Life was busy and things were hard at times for the large Jaunich family. Eldoris remembers waiting for Daytons to have a sale on shoes each year, making suits for her boys out of her grandmother’s coats, and shopping at rummage sales.
Though there were many mouths to feed, a huge garden provided endless food for the family.
“I remember peeling five pounds of potatoes every day,” said Barb (Jaunich) Scherer. “We never felt like we went without anything. Mom sure knows how to stretch a dollar.”
All of her children had paper routes at one time or another, babysitting jobs, and also helped around the house.
With a large family, having one bathroom became not only a challenge but a headache.
“When all my kids were going to school and getting up at the same time, one bathroom was the hardest thing,” Eldoris laughed. “The older ones would even pull the younger ones off the toilet. I’d tell the boys to go pee outside, but then they’d get in trouble for doing the same thing away from home. Finally, we got a second bathroom.”
With nine boys and two girls, Eldoris jokes that she had her own baseball team and, as a self-admitted tomboy, she had fun playing ball with them.
A doctor told her to stop having children after the fourth child, but she continued, and had her youngest child at the age of 47.
Eldoris is a very spiritual person, and it was important her children had a Christian education, so they attended Mt. Olive Lutheran School.
For 31 years, she was on the PTA, and she was recognized by Mt. Olive Lutheran School as the longest-serving parent.
Even though times were sometimes difficult, Eldoris and Wally were involved in the community. Wally was a volunteer fireman and Eldoris a member of the women’s auxiliary.
They could always be found helping friends and neighbors in any way possible, which issomething Eldoris continues to do today.
In the early 1970s, Pete Jaunich, seventh in birth order, was involved in a serious car accident. Three area young men, Perry Ditty, Robbie Snow, and Doug Williams, died in the accident. Pete was the only survivor and spent a long time in a body cast.
Tragedy struck the family again when the Jaunichs’ son Charlie, 18 years old and the ninth child in birth order, was killed in a car accident while driving to work Aug. 30, 1982.
Later that same day, as he stood in the kitchen surrounded by family, Wally Jaunich suffered a massive heart attack and also died.
The family had a double funeral, which was delayed a few days so two of her sons serving in the military could attend.
At the time, her children ranged in age from 34 years old to 9 years old.
“I had three boys still at home and I had real boys, they loved to fight,” she said. “All I could think is, what am I going to do with all these boys? But you know what never did any of them cause trouble. And Mike was only nine years old, so I had to keep going.”
It was her strong faith, determination, her children, as well as help from family and friends, that helped her through the tragic losses of her son and husband.
Life must go on
As they say, life must go on, and so it did for Eldoris. She continued with her gardening, attending her children’s sporting events, and having fun with her large family.
“She was the night watchman, listening for a baby’s cry, coughing sick kids, or teens coming in after curfew,” said Barb (Jaunich) Scherer. “We thought she had eyes in the back of her head. She had the eye of an eagle and the roar of a lion, but we always knew her heart was in the right place.”
Eldoris was 56 years old when her youngest was 9, but she never seemed to slow down.
“The doctor told me not to have any more children after my fourth,” Eldoris smiled. “You know how they talk about machinery breaking down? Well, mine never did.”
Her children have never felt jealous of each other over the years, though they all joke that Mike is the favorite.
“Whoever needs me the most,” she said, “is my favorite. All my kids do something different, no two are alike they are all great.”
The Jaunich family keeps growing
Eldoris now has 35 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren, and the Jaunich family continues to grow.
Christmas parties are so large they take place in the gym at Mt. Olive Lutheran School.
All of her children have remained in the area except for Joe and John, who are living in Florida. Before moving to Florida, John Jaunich was the mayor of Delano for six years.
“We all say she brainwashed us to stay close to help her around the house,” laughed Pat (Jaunich) Czock. “But really, she’s independent, very good-hearted and extremely faithful. She’s a great mother . . . if only I could be one-fourth the mother she is.”
Today, Eldoris is hard to keep track of and is always on the go, whether it be serving as a volunteer driver, playing cards with two card groups, making trips to the casino for gambling fun, or her favorite hobby fishing.
“She still uses a cane pole,” said Barb (Jaunich) Scherer. “No reel, just the cane pole and her on shore.”
With her large family, life has never been boring, and her Christian faith has helped her through difficult times.
“I really didn’t think I had much of a story to tell,” said Eldoris. “But, I guess a story about our life would be a big, thick book.”