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190 S. Franklin Ave.
P.O. Box 391
Colby, KS 67701
Phone: (785) 462-2331
Fax: (785) 462-6242

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Elmer Holthus
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Elmer Henry Holthus
1927 - 2017
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Obituary for Elmer Henry Holthus

Elmer Henry Holthus, son of Ella (Dunker) and Edward Holthus, died peacefully on October 7, 2017, in Orange, California.

Elmer was born June 24, 1927, in the same farmhouse, a few miles east of Ludell, Kansas where his father, Edward, had been born in 1901. Elmer’s mother, Ella, came from the Dunker family, farming several miles north of Ludell. When Elmer was 4 years old in 1931, his father died after a very long illness, with names given to the ailments by the doctors, but no certainty of what the illness really was.

The 1930’s brought the time of well-remembered hardship from dust storms, very heavy crop failures, frequent unpayable land debts, and a low general survival rate. These factors overwhelmed the widow, Ella, and caused her to lose the family land and home. She and Elmer moved to Ludell, which held a home for him until he finished Immanuel Lutheran primary school and Atwood Community High School. After high school, he attended St. John’s College in Winfield, Kansas for two years.

In 1949, Elmer enlisted in the Marines and when the Korean War began in 1950, he was part of the first offensive unit sent to Korea. He was wounded on the front lines as the U.S. troops halted the advance of the invading forces. While in the U.S. for recovery and then assignment to officer training school near Washington, D. C., Elmer met Virginia Heitmuller through the local Lutheran young adult group. A correspondence developed during Elmer’s second tour of duty in to the front lines in Korea.

Soon after Elmer’s safe return, he and Virginia married on October 26, 1952, and were stationed at U.S. bases on the east and west coasts.

During this time, three children were born, Thomas (1954), Paul (1956) and Sharon (1959). In the 1960’s the family was stationed in the Philippines, with extensive travel in Asia. After a brief resettlement in California, they were reassigned to Hawaii and Elmer was soon deployed to Vietnam. During his second tour of duty, he was seriously wounded and returned to Hawaii.

The family was relocated to California and settled in the City of Orange. Elmer retired from the military with twenty years of service. He worked as a teacher and educator and, in 1974, completed a doctorate in Political Science at the University of California.

Over the years, he and Virginia worked side by side to help those less fortunate and in need, including helping found and run the Lutheran High School Thrift Shop which raised over a million dollars in assistance for students needing support.

In spite of the many places and directions that life and the Lord had in store for Elmer, northwestern Kansas was always “home.” He came back to Ludell with Virginia and the children as often as possible to spend time with his mother, and to see cousins, classmates and friends. Elmer never ceased to find joy and rejuvenation in the wide open spaces and bold blue sky of Rawlins County.

Elmer’s and Virginia’s loving marriage and companionship of 54 years ended when Virginia succumbed to cancer in 2006. Elmer has now joined her in God’s loving embrace.

Survivors, in addition to the three children, include their spouses Debra (Thomas), Bridget (Paul), and Jonathan Zimmerman (Sharon); six grandchildren, who grace the family, Kristina, Benjamin and Alexander (Thomas), Natalia (Paul) and Jared and Jason (Sharon).

A Funeral Service will be held at 11:30, Oct. 22, 2017, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Atwood, Kan. Internment will follow at Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, Ludell, Kan. In lieu of flowers, Elmer has suggested memorials to the Redeemer Lutheran Church, Atwood, Voice of the Martyrs or Doctors Without Borders.

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