Otto M. Thorstenson

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:26 pm

Otto M. Thorstenson, 95, of Waukon, died Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Good Samaritan Center in Waukon. Funeral services are Thursday, Oct. 12, at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Waukon, with Pastor Bill Odermann officiating. Burial with military rites is at Old West Paint Creek Cemetery, rural Waukon. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Martin Funeral Home in Waukon. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be given to Veterans Memorial Hospital or the Good Samaritan Center, both in Waukon. Honorary casket bearers are Allen Bakkum, Dean Thorstenson, Terry Kolsrud, Jim Byrnes, Paul Kaeser, Darrell Mitchell and Bob Leppert. Casket bearers are Otto’s grandchildren.

Otto Milton Thorstenson was born Dec. 31, 1921, in Albert Township of Benson County near Brinsmade, N.D. He was the eighth child of Edward O. and Ida Sophia (Gjefle) Thorstenson. Otto was baptized at St. Olaf Lutheran Church and confirmed at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, both near Minnewauken, N.D. He graduated from Minnewauken High School in 1942 and a month later enlisted in the US Navy. He served on the USS Matagorda as well as the smaller USS 1297 in the Battle of the Atlantic. His ships were responsible for escorting other ships carrying supplies and food for the allied troops and general population of Europe past the German U-Boats during WWII. Following his discharge in 1945 he returned to northeast Iowa where he hauled cream for the Waterville Creamery and worked for several area farmers. Otto married Eleanor Althea Bakkum March 5, 1948, at the Old West Paint Creek Lutheran Church in rural Waukon. After working for Palmer Daugs for three years, Otto started a farming partnership with him in 1950. In 1964 Otto bought the Paint Creek Township farm from Palmer and he and Eleanor raised hogs, beef cattle and crops as well as ran a dairy herd. Otto loved the farm life and particularly liked being around the horses. From 1969 until 1990 he also sold Pioneer Seed Corn, a job he very much enjoyed. In 1988, Otto sold the farm to his son Virgil and wife Debbie and he an Eleanor moved to Waukon.

Otto was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church where he served on various boards. He was also a life member of the VFW and American Legion, served on the board of directors for German Farmers Mutual Insurance Association for 36 years, and was a member of the John Froelich two-cylinder antique tractor club. He enjoyed dancing, especially with Eleanor at Rainbow Gardens in Waterville. Gardening, lawn work, hunting and fishing were some of his other pastimes. Otto liked spending time with people. His family was very special to him and his friends and neighbors enjoyed his sense of humor and good-natured pranks.

Survivors include his wife, Eleanor, of Waukon; his children: Virgil (Debbie) of Monona, Roger (Georgia) of Herndon, Va., Sandra (Dennis) Deal and Jan (Greg) Gordon, both of Waukon and Dawn (Todd) Muhlbauer of Decorah; 12 grandchildren: Kelly O’Connor, Jon Thorstenson, Kari Darsch, Erica Thorstenson, Quintin, Kirk, Matthew and Luke Deal, Scott and Shawn Gordon and Jake and Dylan Muhlbauer; six great-grandchildren; and a sister, Stella Karges of Fargo, N.D.

He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings: Eilert, Geneva, Ingvald, Alvin, Floyd and Selma Thorstenson and Wilma Knudson.
Online condolences may be left at

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