Erwin Arthur “Mike” Reitmeier, 87, a lifelong Crookston MN farmer, passed away early Sunday morning, March 29, 2020, in Altru Hospital, Grand Forks, ND, of injuries received from a fall at his home Saturday.
Mike was born on the family farm in Lowell Township near Crookston on September 7, 1932, the son of Edward H. and Ida (Wentzel) Reitmeier. He was the seventh son of the seventh son. Mike was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith and attended a nearby country school to the 8th grade. His high school years were spent at Fisher High School where he graduated with the Class of 1949. He then began farming. On September 26, 1953 Mike was united in marriage to Barbara Jean Preisen, who would become not only his wife but his best friend for the next fifty-one years. The ceremony took place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Crookston. Mike entered the US Army on June 15, 1954 and following basic training was stationed in Germany as a crane operator with the 547th Engineering Battalion. He would later serve as a radio operator with the 552nd Engineering Company until ending his tour of duty and returning to Fort Sheridan, Illinois. For his service to his country he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Army of Occupation (Germany) Medal, Marksmanship Badge, and Good Conduct Medal. He received his honorable discharge on March 28, 1956, and joined Barb and their firstborn son, Michael, as they settled into life on their Lowell Township farmstead. Their marriage would continue to be blessed in the coming years by two precious daughters, Mari Beth and Lori.
Mike enjoyed having his son work with him on the farm during the 1970s. He was a longtime member of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers’ Association and was a former president of the Sugar Beet Haulers’ Board. He was also a past-president of Crookston’s Cenex Board and held memberships in Crookston American Legion Post #20 and VFW Post #1902. As a devoted member of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, Mike served on the church council for several years and was a former president of the congregation. Mike and Barb, affectionately known as “BJ”, looked forward to spending time each summer at Arneson’s Rocky Point on Lake of the Woods. Sadly, Barb passed away quite unexpectedly of a heart attack on February 25, 2005. Their son, Michael, was reunited with his mother on September 14, 2012, after a long and courageous battle against cancer. Later in life, Mike enjoyed the companionship and love of his fiancé, Joan Clemenson of Crookston. Illness would take Joan to her heavenly home on January 3, 2012.
Part of being born as a son of Edward and Ida was exclusive membership in “the band of brothers”; seven boys who enjoyed a lifetime of each other’s company, whether it be fishing on Lake of the Woods or deer hunting in the Beltrami Island Forest. For the “boys” the much-anticipated deer hunt meant weeks of pre-planning; a week or so of the hunt itself; and then the fun of an entire winter spent gathering to relive the hunt and tell stories. Their great shared pride would come over the years as sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons were admitted to the annual ritual. And now the Band is back together!
Bowling was a favorite pastime of Mike’s as he participated in the Farmer’s League and with BJ in the Thursday evening Mixed Doubles League. He was also an avid card player. Mari Beth and Lori often recalled how much their Dad loved shooting skunks that wandered into the yard, or even if they just came close to the yard. Some of Mike’s out-buildings, the deck, and a wooden fence all had bullet holes attesting to his enthusiasm for the necessary task. A special memory shared by Lori, “Dad taught me how to fix anything, to tackle any project no matter how big or small, and to never be afraid of trying or doing anything. But most of all, he gave me my faith.” Mike will be very sadly missed by all who were part of his life.
Loving family members include Mike’s two daughters, a partner, and a son-in-law, Mari Beth Reitmeier and Mary Ann Hehr of Fargo, ND, and Lori Jean and Randy Wolff of East Grand Forks, MN; six grandchildren: Alison Haskell and husband, Brad, of Lewiston, ID, Heidi Waits and husband, Bryce, of Lolo, MT, Britta Hehr of Tioga, ND, Chelsea Hehr of Fargo, Cody Wolff and Erin Wolff of East Grand Forks; four great-grandchildren, Ryker and Ava Waits and Kenneth and Annika Moberg; sister-in-law, Joyce Reitmeier of the Fair Meadow Nursing Home in Fertile, MN; members of Barb’s family; and Joan Clemenson’s family including her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and siblings.
In addition to his wife, Barb; son, Michael; and fiancé, Joan; Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Ida Reitmeier; parents-in-law, Bessie Rudd and Alferd Preisen; and siblings: Meda (Mike) Buness, Arnold Reitmeier (Millie Regeimbal), Willard (Grace) Reitmeier, Edward (Lucille) Reitmeier Sr., Marvin (Aldores) Reitmeier, Lloyd (Audrey) Reitmeier, and Ernest Reitmeier; a niece, Pauline Reitmeier; and nephew, Ron Reitmeier. May God bless their memories and the memory of Erwin “Mike” Reitmeier.
A memorial service for Mike Reitmeier will be held at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Crookston after the COVID-19 danger subsides. Military Honors will be provided by the Minnesota National Guard Honors Team, Moorhead, and the Crookston Veterans Council. Interment will be in the Oakdale Cemetery. Special thanks go out to Mike’s caregivers, Stephen and Barbara Erickson, and Trudy Smith. Memorials may be given in Mike’s name to Our Savior’s School, and the family urge you to be safe during this difficult time.