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Obituary for Howard Solberg


Howard J. Solberg died peacefully at his home in rural New Albin on Sunday, May 14, 2017, surrounded by his family. Howard Julius Solberg was born on January 3, 1931, at home in Irish Hollow, rural New Albin, Iowa, to George and Martha (Rudnick) Solberg. He was baptized at St. Peter's Evangelical and Reformed church in New Albin. Howard attended the Irish Hollow School through fourth grade, and then his family moved to Wheatland, also in rural New Albin where Howard finished school through eighth grade. He was confirmed at St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Wheatland, rural New Albin, Iowa. Howard went to work as a farmhand for Gus Reinke for a few years and then entered the military. He went to basic training at Lackland Air Force base near San Antonio, Texas, and then was stationed at Walker Air Force base in Roswell New Mexico, where he was a baker. While he was in the military, he proposed marriage to Marie Beneke, and they were married at St. John's United Church of Christ in Wheatland on July 16, 1953, while Howard was home on leave. After being discharged from the service, Howard and Marie farmed on the Beneke family farm in Jefferson Township, Houston County, Minnesota. Howard attended the veterans agricultural school in Spring Grove. He served terms on the Caledonia School Board, the St. John's Church Council, and the Jefferson Township Board. Howard had a compassionate heart towards animals and often had bottle fed lambs or goats, or a calf or piglets under a heat lamp in a corner of the barn getting his special attention. Many times a neighbor or friend would call him wondering if he'd want a small, weak, or abandoned baby animal, and Howard always took them in. His animals knew his voice; all of his family remembers him standing in the yard calling, "Come Boss" to the cows in the back pasture, and they would listen to his call and make their way home for milking. Howard and Marie's farm always had a variety of animals, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, terrier puppies, sheep, pigs, goats, and dairy and beef cows. The girls had many of these animals as their 4-H projects and Howard helped get them prepared for showing at the Houston County Fair each year. Howard loved to garden, and always had a big vegetable garden. His real joy came from his flowers, however. Howard planted flowers everywhere he could, and kept many of the plants alive over the winter to be replanted the following summer. Several afternoons a week, you could find Howard at the High Chaparall in New Albin for a cup of coffee with friends. When he came home, one could hear the stories of all he learned that day. In 2008, Howard was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He went through a grueling chemotherapy treatment, only to have the cancer return a year later. He entered a drug study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, which proved to be successful at keeping the cancer under control for the next seven years. In March, the cancer returned and Howard declined further treatment and entered hospice care. Howard is survived by three daughters, seven grandchildren and for great-grandchildren, Linda (John) Devine of La Crosse, Wis, and their son, Jason Devine (fiance Donna Beneke), Lila (Jerry) Burmeister of Atwater, Minn., and their children and grandchildren, Tracy (Kirk) Dilly and Ellie, Nikki (Brian) Harrison, Isaac, Emma and Josiah, and Zach Burmeister; Lorna Kasten of Spring Grove and her children, Rachel (Steve Jr.) Wiste, Sara Kasten (Tyler Erickson), and Ryan Kasten. He is also survived by his sister, Violet Beneke, and by 4 nephews, Bruce (Deb), Bob (Diane), Daryl (Karen), and Randy (Marty) Beneke; and 3 nieces, Janet (Kurt) Stalsberg, Audrey Phillips, and Carol Van Brocklin. He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Marie (Beneke) Solberg on April 29, 2017; by his parents; his brother, Ralph Solberg; his brother-in-law, Alvin Beneke; and his sister-in-law, Selma (Ray) Van Brocklin. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 18, 2017, at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Wheatland. Rev. Paul Burgess will officiate. Burial will be in the church cemetery with military honors by the VFW Post 5603, New Albin, Iowa. A visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of service Thursday at the church. Blessed be his memory among family and friends. The family would like to offer their thanks to Elizabeth Scheel, Prostate Cancer Study patient collaborator at Mayo Clinic for the wonderful care she gave Howard during his seven years in the study. Special thank you also to Ryan Kasten for the care he gave to Howard while living there, to Rachel (Kasten) Wiste for the wonderful care she gave her grandpa in his final days, and to Gundersen Health Care Hospice for their care the past months.