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Plainville leader remembered for service to community


Numerous memorials, scholarships and the like were set up for local and area residents who lost their lives this past year to cancer, vehicle accidents, heart attacks and other illnesses.

There were businessmen, students and longtime employees of Fort Hays State University, clergymen, a doctor, a coach and a judge.

None might be more busy in keeping up with the legacy of their loved one than the family of Charles "Chick" Selbe, a longtime Plainville resident who died in August.

Although 84 years old, Selbe still was active as an auctioneer and real estate broker when he died of complications from pneumonia.

Selbe, born into a family of nine children during the depression in Sharon Springs, started leadership roles early in life.

His family moved to Ellis and eventually Plainville, where he served as captain on both the football and basketball teams.

A born entrepreneur, Selbe sold tires, sporting goods, carpet, minnows, worms, cars, fireworks and real estate, ran two movie theaters, painted, roofed and was instrumental in bringing Schult Mobile Homes to Plainville. On the side, Selbe farmed, raised cattle and refereed high school football games.

In his early 50s, Selbe decided to strike up a new career and went to auctioneer school in Iowa in 1976, came home and formed Prairie Heritage Auction and Real Estate.

His son, Steve Selbe of Houston, called that his father's "true calling."

"A natural and gifted salesman, Chick had a gift for selling real estate and running his auction business," Steve wrote in a tribute about his father following his death.

One of his biggest passions was service to others, especially to veterans.

He served in World War II in the Marine Corps and was able to see one of his grandsons, Jared Hachmeister of Natoma, follow in his footsteps of serving his country. In March, Hachmeister received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., for this school year.

"A big part of his life was promoting veterans," said Susan Stahl of Plainville, Selbe's oldest daughter.

"And promoting Plainville," she added, saying Selbe never thought of living anywhere else. "He always would say, 'There's no place like home. There's no place like Plainville.' "

That service was far-reaching, whether it be organizing events or volunteering his auctioneer services for all kinds of community events.

His wife, Margaret, was constantly by his side before she died in 1997 from congestive heart failure.

The rest of his family also learned all about service -- by osmosis.

"Every one of his kids wished at some point that they could be one of those anonymous families in town instead of always being in the public or always fundraising or fixing or organizing something," Steve Selbe wrote in his dad's tribute.

Nonetheless, the Selbe siblings are carrying on their dad's legacy through service.

In November, Stahl and her two sisters who also live in the area -- Lora Weigel, Plainville, and Sheila Hachmeister, Natoma -- helped put on the annual benefit auction for the United Methodist Church. They continued organizing a soup dinner on Election Day. And on Veterans Day, they helped put out more than 200 luminary bags for the annual military ceremony in the city park.

For 50 years, Selbe was the commander of the military graveside ceremonies for Plainville funerals, and for some area ones as well.

"I think he's drilled the veteran part into us," Stahl said.

Stahl said her dad never talked about what he would do in retirement. He was too busy.

"I don't know if he could have ever done that," she said.

Neither Selbe, nor his children, had to face that decision.

"Less than a month before he died," Stahl said, "he did an auction in Plainville."