Merrill Wayne Birkholz, 84, of Howard Lake, MN, passed away peacefully at Cokato Manor Monday, May 8, 2023, from complications of a stroke.
A celebration of life service will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20, 2023, at the First Baptist Church of Cokato, MN. Visitation will be one hour before the service.
Merrill was born Aug. 11, 1938, in Cokato to Awalt and Frieda (Stueven) Birkholz.
Merrill graduated from Howard Lake High School in 1956.
He married the love of his life, Ramona Lundeen, Sept. 1, 1961, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cokato. They made their home northwest of Howard Lake on the farm where he grew up.
They started their lives together in a mobile home on the Birkholz farm across the hedge from the farmhouse. In 1965, Grandma and Grandpa Birkholz built a house in Howard Lake, and the family moved into the farmhouse. They raised their five children here one girl and four boys.
He farmed both crops and livestock. In 1975, he sold the livestock to focus solely on cash crop farming. He also worked at JLCO selling grain dryers and bins for several years. In addition, he worked road construction after high school and, in later years, road construction for Mathiowetz Construction.
He retired from farming in early 2000. He enjoyed going to his kids and grandkids’ sporting and music events. A number of trips were made with friends and family, including Branson, Mexico, Florida, and North Dakota.
Merrill and Ramona spent their honeymoon up the North Shore, including Thunder Bay and Duluth, MN. An annual Duluth trip was a favorite place, and they would take the grandkids with.
In his later years, he took in stray farm cats they would show up, and he would feed them.
He was a member of Grace Hill Church and a past member of the Assemblies of God Church in Cokato.
Merrill will be remembered for his strong faith, love for his family and friends, integrity, selflessness, compassion, and his daily trips into town (DQ, Marketplace, Norseman, Daniels).
He is survived by his children, Jody (Rick) Selin, Jedd (Traci) Birkholz, Darren Birkholz (Miranda Doering), Jonathan (Kristine) Birkholz, and Daniel Birkholz; grandchildren, Caleb and Carson Selin, Jillian, Jack, Joshua, and Joseph Birkholz, Breanna (Jonathan) Thorson, Brenden Birkholz, and Lynnea Birkholz; great-grandchildren, Lydia, Amara, Karis, Micah, and Wesley Thorson; and nieces, nephews, and many other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Ramona; twin grandsons; parents, Awalt and Frieda Birkholz; sisters, Ruby Drusch and Wilma Nelson; brothers, Wilton Birkholz and Virgil Birkholz; brothers-in-law, Ray Schmieg, Peter Nelson, and Gary Lundeen; and other close relatives.
Honorary urn bearers are his grandchildren.