Ethel L. Sindelar, 16, schoolgirl, saved Jack L. Austin, 12, and Walton C. Mahlum, 13, schoolboys, from drowning, Hixton, Wisconsin, July 2, 1957. While Jack, Walton, and another boy, none of whom could swim, were wading in muddy water over a sand bar in the Trempealeau River, they stepped into a deep hole beyond the end of the bar and were submerged briefly three times. Miss Sindelar and two younger girls, all three non-swimmers, were wading on the sand bar and heard the boys call for help. Followed by the others, Miss Sindelar waded to the end of the bar as Jack surfaced briefly again. She moved toward Jack and was submerged in the hole, her feet becoming mired in silt at the bottom. After freeing herself she returned to the surface and called for an inflated inner tube, which one of the other girls threw to her from the bar. Miss Sindelar was submerged briefly twice before obtaining a hold on the tube. By kicking her feet and stroking with one arm, she then propelled the tube ten feet toward Jack, who returned to the surface in water seven feet deep. He grasped the tube and clung to it as the current carried him and Miss Sindelar slowly downstream. With some help from Jack, Miss Sindelar then propelled the tube five feet upstream and located Walton, who was floating face down in deep water. She drew Walton to her with her foot and then encircled his neck with one arm. Seeing no sign of the other boy, she held Walton’s head above water and propelled the tube 30 feet to the bank, aided slightly by Jack. A man arrived and lifted Walton onto the bank. Walton revived as Jack and Miss Sindelar emerged from the water. Others later located the third boy, but he could not be revived. Jack, Walton, and Miss Sindelar had swallowed some water but recovered.
44234 – 415444234-4154
Sindi Klemsz, of Ithaca, Neb., died on Jan. 22, 2015, in Lincoln, Neb., at the age of 73 following a year-long battle with cancer. She was born in Black River Falls, Wis., on June 29, 1941, to Charles and Grace Sindelar. She graduated from Hixton, Wis., High School in 1959.
She attended Kahler School of Nursing in Rochester, Minn., following high school graduation. As a registered nurse, she was involved in many aspects of nursing and was always available to help anyone in need.
In 1957, when she was known as Ethel L. Sindelar, she was cited for bravery by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. She received the bronze Carnegie Medal for saving two young boys from drowning in the Trempealeau River in Hixton, even though she could not swim.
Klemsz loved nature and was happiest in the outdoors with her vegetable and flower gardens and an apple orchard that she and her husband planted. Her love of animals was apparent with her care of dogs, cats, birds, and fish.
(Edited from an obituary in the Lincoln Journal Star, January 25, 2015.)