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The Palm Sunday tornado 1965: Torn apart, drawn together
Gloria Rieder looks through photographs and newspaper clippings shes kept from the aftermath of the tornado that struck on Palm Sunday 1965. Gloria, along with her husband and children, happened to be away from their dairy farm along County DR when the tornado struck and destroyed their home and barn. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)

Tornado Section

Inside today's edition of The Monroe Times is a special section devoted to reflections of those touched by the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado and photographs taken at the time.

Like so many in Monroe, the Rieder family was hit hard by the tornado that arrived the Palm Sunday afternoon of April 11, 1965.

Luckily, Bob and Gloria Rieder had taken their three young children out for dinner at the time. Only when returning home within view of their 98-acre farm did they realize the devastation.

Their new, modern, three-bedroom home was ripped from its very foundation. Silos were cracked and uprooted, barns were reduced to rubble and 18 trees lay on their sides.

Then there the little things that made it all seem even crazier: Their refrigerator was full of wind-blown manure, Gloria's Easter dress was laying a quarter-mile away, and 20 miles away, a pair of their family photographs would later be found.

That's correct, 20 miles away.

Fortunately, the family's herd - its meal ticket - was unscathed, and that allowed for hopes of rebuilding. Dozens of other families faced the same daunting task; some did pick up the pieces, others moved on to a new life.

Either way, family and friends came through for another, whether with cleanup, repair or lodging. You could say this: What tore Monroe apart brought it closer together.

And Gloria Rieder has collected memories of such acts of kindness. In her scrapbook, she has personal letters of support alongside photos of the damage. There's a copy of the check the American Legion Post gave her family to help replace some belongings. Then there is the letter from the Gempler's tire people, notifying the family that inflating their farm-truck tires would be free of charge.

"We go through the scrapbook with the entire family most every Easter, and for sure we will this year," Rieder said. "My grandson (Nick) is now part of the farm, so he's especially interested."