The snapshot of this Iowa farm boy goes back to a small forty acre farm about four miles south of the small town of Joice, Iowa. Earliest memories account for a good life in a large family of wonderful parents, one sister and five brothers. As was customary back then many farmers rented farms from other land owners and moved occasionally. That was true of our family as during my boyhood our family lived on three different farmsteads before our parents bought a farm of their own.
Good memories of attending eight years in a one room country school house known as Kittleson School, named after the family of one of our neighbors at the time. I recall the day so vividly when upon completion of the eighth grade three of us in that grade went to the county seat of Northwood, Iowa to take our final exams at the County Superintendent’s Office to see if we qualified to enter high school. To this day I recall the fear wondering if I would pass the math test. That was a traumatic day for this young farm boy.
After completing my freshman year of high school at Joice High School I had the good fortune to enroll at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls, Minnesota from which I graduated in 1951. Those were perhaps the most life-shaping years of my life other than the wonderful years of my youth under the influence of my godly parents and friends of our rural Bethel Lutheran Church near Joice, Iowa.
During summers and upon graduation from Hillcrest Academy I found my way to Mason City, Iowa and found summer employment at Harry’s Surplus Store, Jacob Decker Meat Packing Plant and Borden’s Ice Cream Company. While in Mason City I attended and graduated from North Iowa Community College with a Bachelor of Arts degree. It was also in Mason City where I met the love of my life, Mary Lou Heady. She had attended Hamilton Business College and was working at an insurance company as a secretary it so happened that my brother Glenn and another friend of ours, Arden Slattum from Joice, shared a basement unit in an apartment complex. In the same complex on the top floor I discovered a beautiful brunette whom I would often meet at the mail boxes. It wasn’t long before Mary Lou and I fell in love and in 1955 we were married in her home town of Kanawha, Iowa at Kanawha Lutheran Church.
Soon after our marriage in 1955 we moved to Moorhead, Minnesota at the invitation of a pastor and his wife who were beginning a new home mission church in that city. Sensing God’s call upon our lives to Christian Ministry and while completing my last two years of college education we engaged in an eventful and practical experience of hands-on ministry with our friends, the Rangen family. Upon graduation from Moorhead State University in 1957 we moved to Fergus Falls, Minnesota to enroll in seminary. With a degree in secondary education from MSU I was offered a teaching position at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy from which I myself had graduated in 1951. During the next four years I completed my seminary course work in addition to teaching on a part-time basis.
In 1962 we moved to Minot, North Dakota where we accepted a parish call to a new home mission congregation with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America where we served for six years before moving to an established church in northern New Jersey. After serving this thriving congregation we took a position with a retreat and conference center which we helped to establish on the beautiful Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. Our next move was to Washington state where we served a church in the Puget Sound area of Marysville. After an enjoyable stint of service there we again moved eastward to Wisconsin where in Appleton we helped to charter another Lutheran Brethren home mission church. From there we journeyed back to the west to another parish call in Salem, Oregon where we served for some over five years. A bit unusual for pastors to move back to a previous location, the Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Minot, ND extended a call to us to join a multiple staff; this time staying another nine years. In 1991 we again traveled west to Lynnwood, Washington and served an active congregation as an associate pastor.
Contemplating thoughts of retirement we began to consider options for the future. With three of our children living in Minot, North Dakota where during our second term of pastoral service they met and married their life mates, the tug was in place to return to the place of our earlier roots. In 1995 we once again packed our barrels and boxes and moved back to the prairie state. Our daughter Shelly and her husband Pete Peterson had a year earlier inherited an old Victorian home from a dear and elderly man who had no family with whom to leave his estate. Ideas had been in place for some time to utilize the old house as a bed and breakfast facility. Making a long story short we moved to Minot for the third time and helped to restore the old house. We are currently the Innkeepers of the Hillside House Bed & Breakfast and find ourselves meeting lots of interesting and wonderful people from all over the country and the world.
Since “Old Ministers Never Die, They Just Go Out To Pastor”, we find ourselves still serving people in a country parish of three churches. What was to be a temporary “fill-in” pastor while the Hope Lutheran Parish found a replacement pastor five years ago, we travel to a rural community where three churches share in the call to us as their pastor. So this preacher didn’t “retire”. He just got “retreaded.”
No family snapshot would be complete without reference to our immediate family. They are: Randy, our eldest son met and married an Oregonian girl while we lived there. He and Beth have three boys: Casey, Jesse and Torrey. Randy is a foreman for a drywall contractor working out of Portland but lives in the State Capital of Salem. Shelly, met and married Pete Pederson in Minot where they live with their three boys: Bradley, Jordan and Derik. Pete, up until recently was a farmer/rancher with his parents has recently taken a position as Youth Director with Our Redeemers Lutheran Church in Minot. Shelly & Pete operate another beautiful bed and breakfast facility known as Dakotah Rose. Rick, our middle son lives in Minot and he and his wife Mae have a son Cody and daughter Caitlin. Rick is a cabinet maker and Mae is a secretary for a national petroleum company. Russ, who lives in Minneapolis works for a graphic arts firm and he and his fiancé’ Tera have recently announced wedding plans for next February in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Melissa, our youngest, met and married a local man by they name of Douglas Koppinger who works as an electrician. They have four children: Devin, Ashley, Davis and Abbey. With five of our own children and an even dozen grand kids our lives are filled with lots of excitement and joy.