Spillville native, Stanley (Slim) Maroushek wants to tell his story of growing up in Northeast Iowa, so anyone who is seeking a long lost loved one will not give up hope. It is never too late to find that lost family member.
Life wasn’t easy for Slim and his siblings coming from an abusive home where both parents were alcoholics. Slim recalls the year 1954 when he was eleven years old his mother, Loretta, went to the hospital to deliver her sixth child and returned without the newborn baby. He was told the baby boy had died during childbirth. It wasn’t long before Slim began to hear rumors that his brother was alive and out there somewhere. He began to spend more time away from home by biking to the Frank and Joseph Bily farm where he would watch the famous woodcarvers for hours and then sweep up the wood shavings. Then as he became older he began working for farmers. At fourteen, Slim was run over by a farm disc and was in a full body cast. After recovering, he spent less and less time at home, working for any farmer needing help. But one fateful winter evening, for some reason he decided to go home to his room to sleep. It was a cold, stormy February evening when Slim opened the door to his home to find his mother in convulsions on the floor, ready to deliver a baby. When the ambulance arrived, Slim had to pull it out of their country driveway. The next day, February 6, his little sister Donna was born and both mother and child survived. Years later, when he was married, the couple took Donna in and raised her. In the back of his mind he still pondered if there was someone still missing in his life. If there was a brother out there that he may never get to know.
At age sixteen, when he was sitting outside the Inwood Ballroom in Spillville one evening as a band played inside, he started talking to a lady who asked him an important question that would change his life forever. She asked, “What one thing do you want to do most in your life?” He didn’t hesitate to answer. He wanted to find his long, lost brother. From then on that person kept in contact with Slim, helping him find that missing link in his life. It became the first steps in a 27 year quest. There were times when he was sure he would never get the answer to the question that plagued him for years.
It so happens, that along the journey he came in contact with his brother without knowing it. In the 60’s Slim was working with a crew building bridges near Dyersville. Slim and another crew member went into town to a grocery store looking for something for lunch and he recalls his friend saying that a boy working there looked just like his brother. Later, he would discover that his brother had worked at that same grocery store and Slim had actually talked to him without knowing how close he was to discovering his brother.
Years later, July 12, 1981, his contact called that she had found the missing brother. The contact had been searching through some documents and found out that his brother’s name was Rick. He had been adopted to a couple in Dyersville. The lady contacted the priest of the adopted family and had the priest ask Rick if he would want to meet with Slim and some of the family.
The priest called Slim on a Friday and said Rick would like to see him soon. He was told that his 27 year old brother had cancer of the spine and was close to death. Sunday a group of family members went to visit Rick and the following Thursday he was dead. Though short, Rick had a good life with Dick and Mary Arens. Rick had grown up to be even taller than his brother Slim who is 6’6”-- he had red hair like one of Slim’s daughters and Slim’s long face. Slim got to know his brother better through the adoptive parents and still keeps in touch with Mary (Dick is now deceased). Rick’s adoptive mother even gave Slim and other family members a scrapbook of photos of Rick as he grew up, with the last page of his wedding and a photo of his small son at the time of his death, Brian. Mary told Slim that God works in mysteries ways. She lost a son, but gained another.
There is more to Slim’s story of hope. That same year Slim said goodbye to his home building business when he was diagnosed with MS, “I was told in 1981 in five years I’d be in a nursing home,” he said. “I’d be bedridden because I was going downhill so fast.” At the time, his two daughters bought him his own woodcarving set to keep him busy. He has since become well known for his talent, artfully using hands that defied the doctor’s diagnosis. Against all odds he picked himself up, began a new career, and has much in his life to be thankful for. The world may never had known Slim’s talent, if he would have stepped on that fateful airplane in 1981, as he had planned. The plane crashed with the well known Decorah lawyer, Paul Strand, aboard.