Saturday, January 27, 2024 1:57 pm
Mary Ellen Holthaus, age 84, of Decorah, passed away on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at Barthell Eastern Star Nursing Home in Decorah.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 5, at St. Benedict Catholic Church 307 West Main Street, Decorah, with Rev. Donald Hertges presiding. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Visitation will be Sunday, Feb 4, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Helms Funeral Home, 306 East Water St., Decorah, and also after 10 a.m., at the church Monday morning.
Mary Ellen was born on March 21, 1939, the daughter of Louis and Margaret (Huber) Elpert in Decorah, Iowa. She was the oldest of three children and grew up on the family dairy farm north of Decorah. They milked and showed registered Brown Swiss and were nationally known for their cattle. This led to Mary Ellen’s strong allegiance to dairy products – there was no substitute for milk or butter.
Mary Ellen attended a one room country school through 8th grade and then graduated from Decorah High School in 1957. After high school, she began working at Decorah State Bank. After a couple of years, she moved to the Twin Cities to work at Marquette National Bank. She made lifelong friends during her time in Minneapolis.
She married Willard Holthaus on Sept. 4, 1965, and they purchased their house just south of Decorah, near the fish hatchery, where they would raise their family and spend over 57 years together. Willard and Mary Ellen welcomed five children: Michael, Mark, Keith, Stephen and Beth. Mary Ellen was a devoted wife and mother, doing all household duties and tasks to ensure everything was well taken care of. She took pride in keeping a tidy yard, beautiful flowers, meticulously clean home, and neat appearance. Mary Ellen rejoined the work force when her youngest started school, initially working in the office at Jennerjohn – Holthaus for several years and then joining the school district and working in food service before retiring in 2000.
She was a lifelong member of the St. Benedicts Church, and the Rosary Society. She was an active volunteer for the church and school. Mary Ellen enjoyed traveling with Willard and they visited many different places throughout the U.S. and beyond. They spent extended time in Florida and Colorado. She also enjoyed spending time with her wonderful friend Elaine pursuing additions to enhance their home decor.
Mary Ellen’s happiest moments were those spent with family, especially the grandchildren and great grandchildren. In the later years, they acquired a dog, Annie, who was a very special companion for Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen was well known for her homemade food, especially her baked chicken and graham cracker dessert that was often served when the family was together.
Mary Ellen is survived by her children: Michael (Sandra) Holthaus, South Haven, MN, Mark (Trisha) Holthaus, Decorah, IA, Keith (Gina) Holthaus, Decorah, IA, Stephen (Heather) Holthaus, Ely, MN, and Beth Holthaus, Plainview, MN. Eight grandchildren, Zoe, Jack, Ben, Blake, Emily, Jared, Lyla and William. Three step grandchildren, Ashley, Kaitlin and Jake Mohlis and great grandma to Alex, Landon and Parker. She is also survived by her sister Judie (Darrell) Westby, sister-in-law Max (Karl) Klotzbach, sisters-in-law Dodie Elpert, Sharon Huber, Connie Sande, Sue Holthaus, Elaine Holthaus, Lorraine Holthaus, brothers-in-law Norb Bullerman, David Holthaus and Dan Schmitt.
She was preceded in death by her husband Willard, her mother and father, brother William Elpert, brother James Huber, father and mother-in-law Raymond and Hilda Holthaus, brothers-in-law Adrian Holthaus, Ken Holthaus, Ron Holthaus, Doug Blair, sisters-in-law Judy Bullerman, Inez Schmitt, Jane Blair, Pat Seiler, nieces Theresa Holthaus and Angela Westby and nephews Philip Blair and Cory Sande.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to family, friends and providers who were there to support Mary Ellen over the past few years with her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Winneshiek County Community Foundation in care of Willard H. and Mary Ellen S. Holthaus Family Fund or Winneshiek Medical Center Hospice.