HJ-ED-DHJ Obituaries


Willis E. Birkholz

Willis E. Birkholz, age 80, of Howard Lake, died Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007 at the Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.

He was born June 11, 1926 on his family’s homestead in Victor Township, Wright County, the son of Otto and Ella Gruenhagen Birkholz. Willis lived his entire life on the Birkholz family farm, southwest of Howard Lake.

Willis was baptized July 11, 1926 at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake by the Rev. C. G. Seltz. He was instructed in the Lutheran Catechism and confirmed in the Christian faith March 17, 1940 at St. James Lutheran Church. He remained faithful to his confirmation vows, and was a lifelong member of St. James Lutheran Church.

Willis graduated from St. James Lutheran School, and in 1944, graduated from Howard Lake High School.

Willis Birkholz and Jean Randel were joined in holy marriage Aug. 24, 1951, at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Buffalo. The Rev. E. R. Berwald officiated. God blessed their marriage with four children.

Willis and Jean engaged in dairy farming for many years. They also enjoyed traveling.

Willis formerly served on the St. James School Board, and was a former church usher.

He enjoyed bowling and visiting with his friends, and loved his granddaughters’ visits.

Willis is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Jean Birkholz; daughters Nancy Birkholz of Basalt, Colo., Susan (Arlo) Zander of North Mankato, and Lori (Steven) Welle of Eagan; grandchildren Jenna and Alison Zander, and Brianna and Lauren Welle; a sister, Evelyn Diers of Howard Lake; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Joan (Reuben) Streich of Maple Lake, and David (Margaret) Randel of Buffalo; and many other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by a son, Stephen Birkholz; his parents, Ella and Otto Birkholz; a nephew, Patrick Randel; a brother-in-law, Elroy Diers; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Frederick and Mabel Randel.

Funeral services were Saturday, Jan. 20 held at 2 p.m. at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake with the Revs. Martin Schoenfeld and Michael Nirva officiating. Nancy Butterfass was the organist, and congregational hymns were “For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest,” “I’m But a Stranger Here,” and “Abide with Me! Fast Falls the Eventide.” Interment followed at St. James Lutheran Cemetery on Dutch Lake.

Visitation took place Friday, Jan. 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted, with a prayer service at 8 p.m.

Casket bearers were Roger Kritzeck, Burton Horsch, Keith Brose, Craig Brose, Bradley Streich, and Wayne Birkholz.

The Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted served the family.

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