The memory of Anthony “Tony” Wirtz will be honored this weekend at the South Lake County Agricultural Historical Society’s Antique Tractor and Farm Show.
Wirtz, who was a mainstay at the event, where he cooked his famous ham and bean and chicken noodle soups over an open fire in cast iron kettles, said his wife, Geraldine Wirtz.
“We started making soup a long time ago,” she said. “He just got into it more and more and it just grew and grew.”
Geraldine Wirtz said people came to the show from as far as Chicago just for her husband’s bean soup. He was also known for cooking pork chops for golf outings and hosting pig roasts.
“He was always helping someone out,” Geraldine Wirtz said. “He was a tireless volunteer who was well known in Hobart and throughout the region.”
A 50-year 4-H member, Wirtz, 72, of Hobart, served as a leader and helped in the dairy barn and dairy judging at the Lake County Fair. Raised on a dairy farm, Wirtz always took his vacation during the week of the fair. He enjoyed attending and working at auctions and helped on his brother’s Merrillville farm planting, disking or baling hay.
Wirtz worked in ground maintenance 25 years for the School City of Hobart and also was involved in the Future Farmers of America. He dressed in costume for the Buckley Homestead World War II event and helped with pancake breakfasts as a member of the Lions Club.
Married 44 years, the couple met as classmates at Crown Point High School but didn’t start dating until after graduation.
“His brother and my sister were married before we were,” Geraldine Wirtz said. “So I guess we met through doing family things together.”
Geraldine Wirtz said she will especially miss her husband’s smile.
“He loved his family, he loved people,” she said. “He was pleasant to everyone.”