Richard A. “Dick” Gratz, of Willmar, died Tuesday, January 7th at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud. His funeral will be 11:00 am, Saturday, January 11th at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Kandiyohi with burial in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery, rural Atwater. Military Honors will be provided by American Legion Post #167 of Willmar. Visitation will be from 4-7 pm, Friday at the church and continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. www.hafh.org
Dick was born February 14, 1929, in Atwater, MN, the son of Art and Alta (Rodewald) Gratz. When he was only 2, his mother passed away from childbirth and pneumonia. He was raised by his grandmother until his father remarried when he was about 5 years old.
He was baptized and confirmed at St. John’s Lutheran Church, rural Atwater. He attended District 3, District 50 and eventually at St. John’s Lutheran School. In 1947 he decided it was time to leave home and he started working as a farmhand for various farmers in the area. In 1948 he enlisted in the United States Army and was honorably discharged in 1950. While he was in the service, he was an MP.
He met his wife to be, Eileen Ella Schmidt at a Walther League Rally near Gaylord in 1947. They wrote letters back and forth while he was in service. After he was discharged, they were married on August 12, 1951, in Immanuel Lutheran Church in Brownton. Their first home was in LeSuer. He worked for Behm and Esterlund Implement Company, Minnesota Valley Gas and for a power plant before going back to his original love of farming. He farmed Abner Broman’s farm for 17 years before purchasing, along with a partner, a repair shop in Svea. Unfortunately, in 1997 their repair shop burned down and for the following five years Dick worked for S.E.W. Enterprises. After retiring, Dick starting mowing lawns including the church and cemetery.
Not only was taking care of the grounds of Ebenezer important to Dick but he also had served on the church council. He enjoyed dancing, playing cards, going to Senior Citizens, going out to eat, visiting, fishing and snowmobiling. Back in the day, he also enjoyed waterskiing and riding in their pontoon. Dick was known to share a good story or two, and most of all he truly enjoyed life!
Surviving are his fiancée, Joyce Reich; children: Doug Gratz of Kandiyohi, Konnie (and Lee) Carity of Atwater, Debra (and DeWayne) Odland of Spicer; seven grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. Also surviving are his siblings: Ardy Johnson of Grove City, Janet Jacobson of Lake Lillian, Lori Ruchti of Buffalo, Shirley (and Phil) Everson of Champlin and Clayton Gratz of Lindstrom; as well as many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and step-mother, wife, Eileen, on January 22, 2008; son, Tom, sister, Lois.
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