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Obituaries from the week of December 14, 2005


Oliver Halstenson, 96

Oliver “Ollie” Halstenson age 96 of Tracy, formerly of Walnut Grove, passed away on Sunday, December 11, 2005 at the Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy. Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, December 15, 2005 at English Lutheran Church in Walnut Grove. Visitation will be held from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Walnut Grove Funeral Home, and will continue one hour prior to services at the chuch on Thursday.

Oliver Halstenson was born February 2, 1909 in Swift Falls, Minnesota to Ole & Emma (Knutson) Halstenson. He was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith. Ollie attended country school District 79 in Swift Falls, and later District 19 north of Walnut Grove. Ollie worked various jobs before entering the US Army in 1942. He served in the Burma Campaign building roads and bridges with the 209th Combat Engineers & Merrills Marauders. He received his Honorable Discharge from the Army in 1945. Ollie worked as trackman/ machine operator for C & NW Railroad Co. for over 38 years. Ollie lived in Walnut Grove from 1919 to 2002 at which time he moved to O’Brien Court in Tracy. In December 2005, he entered Prairie View Healthcare Center where he has resided since. Oliver was a longtime member of English Lutheran Church where he served as custodian for several years. He was also a member of the Tracy VFW and the Walnut Grove American Legion. Ollie enjoyed working outdoors, and traveling.

Oliver is survived by two nieces and one nephew: Fran (Richard) Rieger of Currie, MN, Judy (Dallas) Herrick of Bloomington, MN & Doug (Diane) Halstenson of Sioux Falls, SD; sister in law Vera Halstenson of Springfield, MN; eight great nieces and one great nephew; 13 great great nieces and nephews, and many other relatives and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, brother Lloyd, sister Myrtle Halstenson, and an infant nephew Richard Irwin Halstenson.

Interment is in the Walnut Grove Cemetery. The Walnut Grove Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.


Dale Alf, 78

Dale A. Alf, age 78, passed away Saturday, December 10, 2005. He was born in Tracy, Minnesota and lived most of his life in Jacksonville, FL. Mr. Alf proudly served in the U. S. Navy during WW II and the Korean War before retiring in 1974. He later retired from the U. S. Postal Service after 21 years of service. He was a member of Riverview Lodge #306, Scottish Rite Bodies, F & AM and Morocco Temple.

He was preceded in death by his wife of almost 50 years, Naomi Alf.

Survivors include his son, Eddie L. Stafford (wife, Terry) of Lake Worth, FL; granddaughter, Tania Drotleff (husband, Andy); great-grandchild, Drew of Tampa, FL; 2 brothers, Leonard Alf (wife, Betty) of Arizona & Jack Alf (wife, Shirley) of Tracy, Minnesota; 4 sisters, Delores Dieken of Colorado, Florence Smith of Tracy, Minnesota, Betty Kolbe (husband, Delbert) of Arizona, Sandra Myers (husband, Steve) of Washington State; numerous nieces, nephews, friends and extended family.

Funeral services were held today, Wednesday, December 14, 2005 in the chapel of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, 729 S. Edgewood Ave. with interment following in Riverside Memorial Park. For those who prefer, donations may be made to The American Cancer Society, The Shriner’s Children’s Hospital or the charity of your choice.

Rev. Victor Schmidt, 89

Funeral services were conducted Monday Dec. 12, for a retired Tracy pastor. Rev. Victor Schmidt, 89, died Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Tracy Nursing Home.

The clergyman served Lutheran congregations in Brownton, MN (Grace Lutheran1950-54); Morris, MN (Peace/Faith Lutheran 1954-70); and Westbrook, MN (Trinity Lutheran, 1970-1981). He retired from the active ministry in 1981. He and his wife, Ruth, lived in Forest Lake, MN from 1981 until 2000, when they moved to Tracy.

• • •

Victor John Schmidt was born April 4, 1916, to John and Theresa (Krengel) Schmidt on a farm in Mehurn Township, Lac qui Parle County. He was the second of 12 children.

Both of Victor’s parents were of German ancestry. John Schmidt, born near Hermansburg, Germany, was the son of a baker. John emigrated from Germany as a young man, following an older brother, William, who was a pastor at St. John’s Lutheran in Marietta. Theresa was the daughter of Heinrich and Anna (Wachter) Krengel who farmed in Waterbury Township near Lamberton, MN. Heinrich is said to have emigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway on a trans-Atlantic ship.

At the time of Victor’s birth, John and Theresa lived in a barn, with hanging blankets partitioning their living quarters from the livestock. At a young age, Victor helped with farm work. Milking cows, and other livestock chores, needed to be done twice a day. Since fieldwork was dependent upon horsepower, Victor frequently worked with horses as he plowed, planted, cultivated, and harvested the land. He loved the farm horses—Dick, Dewie, Prince, Queen, Babe, and Jerry, among others,—was known for his ability in handling horses. It was not unusual for neighbors to seek Victor’s help breaking horses. An industrious and diligent worker, Victor was known as one of the quickest and productive corn pickers in the area. During most of his years on the farm, all field corn was picked by hand. Threshing time in late summer, when neighbors gathered to harvest and process their small grain crops, was another especially busy time on the farm for Victor.

The family lived on their original homestead near the South Dakota border until Victor was 12 years old. At that time, they moved a mile east to a farmstead formerly owned by Frank Willis.

Victor attended District 54 Country School through grade 8, walking with his siblings a mile and a half to school. (The second Schmidt farm was only 1/4 of a mile from the school. He was a top student at Marietta High School, even though spring and fall farm work forced him to miss many days of school. When he was about 16, he completed an agriculture course in Morris during the winter months. Victor graduated from Marietta High School in 1934.

“Playing ball” with siblings and neighbors was a favorite Sunday afternoon, and Victor was an excellent player. A District 54 team that included many Schmidt family members finished second in a county tournament. Victor and his brothers also enjoyed hunting and fishing.

Following high school, he worked on the family farm for about two years. In about 1936, he went to live and work on Uncle Tony Arndt’s farm near Lamberton. From 1937-38, he worked on his Uncle Paul Krengel’s farm, also near Lamberton. He returned to the Schmidt farm near Marietta in 1939 following the sudden death of his father.

For the next five years, Victor helped managed the family farm, which then consisted of more than 1,000 acres, and helped pay off the farm debt.

In 1944, he became the second person (sister Irene was the first) in his family to attend college. He enrolled first at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD., before transferring to Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

While at Wartburg, he participated in church choir, baseball, the Trumpet school newspaper, and drama. He was the president of the Wartburg Players, a college drama club; and participated in Chi Rho, an organization for students preparing for the ministry.

He earned a bachelor’s degree `in three years, graduating from Wartburg in 1947.

From 1947 to 1950, he attended Wartburg Seminary at Dubique, Iowa. During his last years at seminary, he frequently helped lead Sunday worship services at Lutheran churches in Iowa and Minnesota.

Victor met Ruth Goodemann, a Lutheran parochial teacher, at a Luther League gathering in Waverly, Iowa. They were married June 20, 1950, in Napoleon, Ohio.

Victor was ordained as an American Lutheran Church pastor on June 4, 1950, at St. John’s Lutheran in Marietta, his home congregation.

• • •

He and Ruth made their first home in Brownton, where Victor was called to serve Grace Lutheran. The church, a mission congregation when he arrived, grew rapidly during his tenure. When he left Browntown in 1954 to accept a call at Peace Lutheran Church in Morris, Grace Lutheran was self-supporting.

Their first three children were born in Brownton: Juan (1951), Rene (‘52) and Seth Thane ‘54). Five other Schmidt children were born in Morris: Nathan (1955), Kirsten (1957), Lael (’59), Noel (’60), and Sergei (’61).

While in Morris, Pastor Schmidt was active in groups that worked for the construction of a new high school and new public library in Moris. He frequently conducted services at area Lutheran churches that lacked a pastor. One Sunday, he delivered sermons at five different churches.

For many summers in the 1950s and ‘60s, he helped lead a week of Bible camp sessions at the American Lutheran Memorial Camp near Onamia.

In the late 1960s, he worked for the merger of Bethany and Peace Lutheran churches into Faith Lutheran Church in Morris. In 1969-70, he served as the congregation’s interim pastor before accepting a 1970 call to serve Trinity Lutheran in Westbrook.

As a pastor, Rev. Schmidt was noted for his ability to speak without notes and quote Scripture from memory. He enjoyed directing choirs, especially a men’s chorus. Visiting the sick and elderly was a forte of his ministry.

Raising and caring for horses—especially Arabians—was a favorite hobby. He also enjoyed pheasant and duck hunting, fishing with his homemade wood boat, and an annual deer hunting expedition. He rarely missed a meeting of the Morris and Westbrook Kiwanis clubs.

After his retirement from the active ministry in 1981, he and Ruth moved to Forest Lake, MN.

• • •

Throughout his life, Victor was proud of his family. He deeply loved his wife, children, and grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Diedrich, Hank, Raymond, Lester, and Armin, and sisters Louise and Irene, wife, and infant son Nathan Shawn.

He is survived by:

• Four siblings—Brothers Winfred and Eldon; and sisters Ruth and Rhoda.

• Seven children—Juan (Julie) Montezuma, Iowa; Rene, Dallas, TX; Seth (Elizabeth), Tracy; Kirsten (Tom) Rochester; Lael (Nancy) Grand Forks, ND; Noel (Kelley) White Bear Lake; Sergei (Kristen), Portland, OR.

• Fourteen grandchildren: Daisy, Lacey, Raleigh, Kyle, Brady, Leif, Johanna, Lise, Gretchen Joel, Maria, Jadrien, Ger, and Sitka.

• • •

Funeral services were conducted at St. John’s Lutheran in Marietta, Dec. 12. Interment was in the Marietta Cemetery.