Editor's note: A Life Well Lived looks beyond the obituary to the memorable times of a Faribault area resident's life.
FARIBAULT - A whiff of fragrance from a peony bloom brings their parents to mind for Gail Tischler of St. Paul and Kay Tischler of Thief River Falls.
Both of their parents died last year. Their father, Robert Tischler, died in January, and their mother, Adelaide Tischler in December.
The couple's daughters grew up helping with the peony farm operated by their father and his brother, Archie Tischler, on the southeast side of Faribault. At first it was known as the Brand Peony Farm and the Tischler brothers worked for the nursery, but in 1956 they purchased it; Bob purchased full ownership in 1968. After being out of the business for several years following 1978, he opened a new business in the 1980s called Tischler Peony Garden.
Robert and Adelaide Tischler, helped operate the peony farm for more than 40 years.
"It was a lovely way to grow up," Tischler said. "The fields of peonies would bloom in the spring, a heavenly sight."
As a young girl, Tischler remembers helping with the annual peony show held in early June. She would fill Voegel's Creamy glass milk bottles with water. Her father would hand her one peony bloom to put in the bottle. She then would put a decorative sleeve over the bottle and it would be taken to the show floor by another worker where it was placed on a table with a label.
She and her sister both helped with the business when they were in high school, Moen said. They would help fill orders that came into the nursery. The annual peony show was a marketing tool to sell the peonies the nursery grew and it attracted thousands of people to Faribault to view the lovely flowers in multiple hues of pinks, reds and white.
"What my dad like best was developing new varieties of peonies," Tischler said. "He had various characteristics he looked for such as strength of plant, size of bloom and even fragrance. When he developed a new variety he liked, he would register and name it. Many times he would name it after a family member."
Robert Tischler's love for peonies began when he was a youngster helping decorate floats with peonies for the Peony Festival parade, according to a June 12, 1998 article in the Faribault Daily News. The Peony Festival parades were held for three years from 1927 to 1929. All units in the parade were decorated with peony petals or blooms grown at the Brand Peony Farm. That nursery was located on 40 aces south of the intersection of East Division Street and Tenth Avenue Southeast. Oliver Brand established the nursery in 1868.
Robert Tischler, in 1998, speculated that the stock market crash in October 1929 and the Depression that followed was the reason the Peony Festival parade ended.
He also told how it takes 15 to 20 years to take a seedling peony plant and develop the plant into something that can be marketed and sold.
Her mother, Tischler said, helped with the bookkeeping for the nursery, but also worked as a secretary for the Faribault Senior High School principal for 27 years, retiring in 1986.
Both her parents were Faribault natives. Robert Tischler was born Nov. 9, 1911 in Faribault to Paul and Helena (Krause) Tischler. He continued to cultivate and sell peonies until 2002, although much of the stock from the peonies was sold to Farmer Seed in 1978. He never did retire from cultivating the flower, opening the new store in the country in the 1980s so he could develop new varieties as a retirement hobby.
Adelaide Tischler was born May 3, 1922 in Faribault to Nicholas and Frieda (Kitzman) Winkel. She was named editor-in-chief of the Faribault High School newspaper, the Echo, her senior year, graduating in 1940. She attended Winona State Teachers College for a year after high school, and then worked as bookkeeper at Lockwood Auto from 1941 to 1947. She married Robert Tischler on July 6, 1947 in Faribault's Trinity Lutheran Church.
Peonies will always remind the couple's two daughters and four grandchildren of Robert and Adelaide Tischler. Their passing is the end of an era in town, where, come spring, the peonies would bloom in fields in southeast Faribault, where today houses loom instead.
- Staff writer Pauline Schreiber may be reached at 333-3127.