Obituaries

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An archive of obituaries starting from late 2019 is available at this link.

(Please note: Our office relies on families, congregations, and schools to provide obituary information. If you do not see an obituary here that you believe should be shared with the district, please contact communications@ndlcms.org to notify us.)

Below are obituaries from the past 6 months.

The Reverend Ernest G. Smith, pastor emeritus, Columbus, Nebraska, departed this life on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Grand Island, Nebraska, at the age of 92. He was born on June 3, 1929, in Queens, New York, to William Charles (“Charlie”) and Lillian Margaret (Craig) Smith.  The Great Depression began later that year, which influenced him and his whole generation.

Ernest went to elementary school in Brooklyn and was confirmed there in 1943 at Lutheran Church of Our Savior. He attended high school at the Lutheran Preparatory School as a boarding student in Bronxville, New York. Here he played baseball, sang in choir, and was the sports editor in the high school newspaper. In 1945, Ernest’s family moved to Ellenville, New York, for his father’s job at Ulster Knife Company.

Ernest felt a call to the ministry and entered Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1949 to begin his training as a pastor. The next year, he first met Katherine Williams at a group date, but she was not his date. He graduated in 1954 and married Katherine that September in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first parish was Christ Lutheran in O’Neill, Nebraska, and he had duties at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Atkinson, Nebraska, as well. Their daughter, Stephanie, was born in O’Neill in 1955. While in Nebraska, he bought a Taylor Craft airplane and learned to fly.

In 1956 he was compelled to join the U.S. Army. He first served at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where their second daughter, Nancy, was born. Then, he served in the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea, where he served as a chaplain near the 38th parallel. He ended his military career serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky.

In 1959, he received a call to serve as associate pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland, and eventually became the senior pastor there. Their two sons, Nathan and Jonathan, were born in Baltimore. Ernest was commissioned as a missionary to Papua, New Guinea, in 1966, moving the entire family overseas for a term of five years. While there, he learned the Enga language and taught literacy to the indigenous people in the Western Highlands (pre-independence). During a second five-year term, he taught using the local language at Timothy Seminary in Birip. One of his loves was always music and he joined a trio called the Highland Trio with other missionary folks. They sang American folk songs.

In 1976, the family returned to the United States, and Ernest received a call to Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Nebraska, where he served full-time until 1991 and part-time until 2013. There, he sang in the church’s barbershop quartet, “The Uncalled Four.” After retiring from Peace in 1991, he traveled for Pathway Lutheran Ministries to help Lutheran churches around the U.S. plan new ministries and expansion of their mission.

After his fourth and final retirement, he and Katherine traveled the country in RVs and visited at least nine other countries. Throughout his life, he rode motorcycles, played golf and softball, and enjoyed family times and celebrations. He wrote a few songs and had music composed to set his lyrics to music. Known for his humor and his sermons, he also used his writing skills to put together some pamphlets he called “Just Thinking” with musings about life, death, and everything in between. Keeping up with technology, he even created a DVD about his life.

Pastor Smith is survived by two daughters, Stephanie (Richard) Maxson, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Nancy (Brian) Lindholm, St. Charles, Illinois; two sons, Nathan (Lisa) Smith, Overland Park, Kansas, and Jonathan (Melanie) Smith, Doniphan, Nebraska; eight grandchildren; and one sister, Mildred (Smith) Heinze, Lombard, Illinois. Ernest was preceded in death by his parents, and his wife, Katherine, in 2020. 

The funeral service will be held on Monday, April 11, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus. Pastors are asked to vest with red stoles and to meet in the fellowship hall before the service to process in together. Interment will be in the Omaha National Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday, April 12, at 10:00 a.m. Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 10, 2022, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Gass Haney Funeral Home in Columbus and will continue on Monday, April 11, from 9:30 a.m. until service time at the church. Military honors will be given by The American Legion Hartman Post 84 Honor Guard immediately after the church service on Monday. 

Condolences may be sent to Jonathan Smith, 331 Renee Road, Doniphan, Nebraska 68832. 

The Reverend James D. Wilkens, pastor emeritus, Omaha, Nebraska, departed this life on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at the age of 85. He was born on September 15, 1936, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He attended Lutheran parochial school and public high school in Omaha, Nebraska. He studied for the ministry at St. John’s College, Winfield, Kansas, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, graduating in 1961. He attended graduate school at Concordia Seminary and Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and was ordained on July 1, 1962.

Pastor Wilkens served the following congregations during his ministry: Peace, as well as campus pastor at Central State College, Edmond, Oklahoma (1962-1968); Pilgrim, Granville, and Trinity, Hebron, Ohio, as well as campus pastor at Dennison University, Granville, Ohio (1968-1971); Trinity, Amherst, Nebraska (1971-1982); chaplain at the Lutheran Home, Omaha, Nebraska (1983-1999); assistant/visitation pastor at St. Mark, Omaha, Nebraska (2001-2014); and as vacancy pastor at Hope, Omaha, Nebraska (2001-2018). He also served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1967-1988.

A visitation will be held on Sunday, February 6, 2022, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, 2723 North 30th Street, Omaha, Nebraska. A memorial service will be held in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hope Lutheran Church or The Lutheran Thrift Shop.

Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Laurie Wilkens, 3724 South 16th Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68107.

Richard B. Ulmer, Commissioned Minister—Teacher Emeritus, departed this life on January 27, 2022, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was born on August 30, 1931, in the Chicago area. He received his bachelor’s degree from Concordia Teachers College (now University), River Forest, in 1953. He later received a Masters Degree from Kansas State in 1958 and became an Education Specialist at the University of Nebraska, Omaha in 1969. He married Marian McClaughry. Throughout his career he served as teacher and principal. Schools served include: St. Johns, Aliceville, KS; St. Paul’s, Yorktown, IA; St. Paul, Omaha, NE; retiring in June of 1993. During retirement, Richard and Marian traveled the U.S. with Laborers for Christ, building churches. When not on the road, Richard volunteered, visiting the sick, elderly, and lonely. He enjoyed gardening and joined the Omaha Rose Society. He took charge of maintaining the Memorial Park rose garden for many years.

Mr. Ulmer is survived by his children, Richard Ulmer Jr., Kathie Matsumura, Kris Hock, Karen Samsom, Karol Ulmer, Karla Haggar, and their spouses; 12 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and his brother, Robert Ulmer. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marian, and son Mark.

A memorial service was held February 5, 2022, at Roeder Mortuary in Omaha.

Memorials are designated to missionary Sandra Rhein who is on-site in Taiwan. Memorials can be sent to Mission Central at 40718 Hwy E 16 in Mapleton, IA 51034. Include the name “Richard Ulmer” in the memo section of your check.

The Reverend Robert H. Schermbeck, pastor emeritus, departed this life on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at the age of 68. Bob was born on November 6, 1953 in Leavenworth, Kansas to Harold and Anna (Cowling) Schermbeck.  He was baptized on January 10, 1954 and later confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Leavenworth, KS.  Robert graduated from Leavenworth Senior High School on May 27, 1972.   He passed away Saturday, January 15, 2022 in Landrum, South Carolina where he had lived with daughter, Amy and her family since June 2021. 

In the fall of 1972, Bob moved to Winfield, Kansas, where he attended St. John’s College.  It was there that he met Robin Taylor.  Bob and Robin were married on August 4, 1974, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Buckley, Illinois.  Upon graduation from St. John’s College in 1975, they moved to Seward, NE, where Bob attended Concordia College and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education in 1976.  From 1976 to 1978, Bob and Robin lived and worked in Seward, NE.

In 1978, Bob and Robin left Seward for Bob to attend Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO.  In June of 1980 until June of 1981. Bob was placed to complete his vicarage under the guidance of Reverend Marvin Barz, at Peace Lutheran Church in Exeter, Ontario, Canada. After completion of his vicarage in 1981, he returned to St. Louis and graduated from seminary in May of 1982.  His first call was to St. John’s (Green Garden) in Madison, NE where he was ordained on October 6, 1982 and served as Pastor for the next four years. From there, he was Associate Pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran in York, NE from 1986 until 1993. In 1993, he became Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran in Junction City, KS.  Bob spent the remaining 23 years of his time in ministry as Pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Elk Creek, NE, from March, 1996 to December 31, 2019.  

In January of 2020, Bob and Robin returned to Seward, where Bob cared for his wife until her death on April 9, 2021.  Bob spent 45 years in pastoral ministry doing what he was called to do.  He dedicated his life to sharing the word and love of Christ.  Bob showed compassion and understanding both as Pastor and father, lending a level of patience, care and love beyond measure to all those he encountered.  1 Peter 1: 24-25:  “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord abides forever.”

Bob is survived by his children, Timothy (Cassie),  Andrew (Rebecca), Sarah (Barrett) and Amy (Christopher); his brother, John, his sisters Linda (Danny) and Carol (Bob) and numerous nieces and nephews.  He was grandfather to:  Jacob, Luke, Ellie, Madelyn, Samuel, Joanna, Sydney, Jackson, Isaiah, Ben, Levi, Colin, Hudson, Natalie, Abigail and Bennett.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 22, 2022 at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, rural Elk Creek, Nebraska with Rev. Bill Cornelius officiating.  The service will also be live streamed on the church’s Facebook page for those unable to attend.

Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday, January 21, 2022 at the Wherry Mortuary in Tecumseh, Nebraska.

Memorials may go the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. 

Interment will be in the St. Peter’s Lutheran Cemetery, rural Elk Creek, Nebraska.

Online condolences may be left at www.wherrymortuary.com.

The Rev. Charles Horkey, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Sioux City, IA died on Friday, January 14, 2022. Visitation will take place at Faith Lutheran Church in Sioux City, Iowa on Friday, January 21 from 4-8pm. The funeral service will also take place at the church on Saturday, January 22 at 10:330am. Rev. Dr. Steve Turner and Rev. James Travis will officiate.

Pastor Horkey began his ministry in the Nebraska district serving at the dual parish of Immanuel, Schuyler/Trinity, Howells from 1984-1987; He also served at Immanuel, Tilden, NE (1987- 1998), Lutheran High School of Northeast Nebraska in Norfolk, NE in 1998 and Hope, South Sioux City, NE (1999-2007). He then took the call to St. John/Immanuel, Wheaton, MN (2007- 2011) before going to emeritus status in 2011 and transferring to the South Dakota District. He came out of retirement when he accepted the call to Faith, Sioux City, IA in 2021 where he was serving at the time of his death. A full obituary is available here.

Mrs. Mary Ann (Schwartz) Pullmann, widow of the Reverend Carl E. Pullmann, departed this life on Thursday, December 30, 2021, in Slinger, Wisconsin, at the age of 88. She was born on July 11, 1933, to Louis and Marie Schwartz in Gurley, Nebraska. She was brought to the Lord through Holy Baptism in 1933 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gurley, Nebraska. In 1952 she graduated from Chadron State Teachers College and taught 1st-8th grades in a small one room schoolhouse for one year.

In 1953 she married her pastor’s son and love of her life, Carl Pullmann in Gurley, Nebraska. They were blessed with 66 years of marriage together and their four children, Dwight Pullmann, Carla Pullmann Nuckols, Michael Pullmann, and Monnie Anderson Hicks.

During Carl’s 52 years of active ministry, Mary served by his side in Neligh and Elgin, Nebraska; Anoka, Minnesota; and North Platte, Nebraska. In 2021 Mary moved to Wisconsin to be near her daughter Carla and family.

Mary was preceded in death by her husband Carl. She is survived by two daughters, Carla (Mark) Nuckols of Jackson, Wisconsin, and Monnie Anderson Hicks (Ron) of Brandon, Mississippi; two sons, Dwight Pullmann of Rocklin, California, and Michael (Cheryl) Pullmann of Florence, South Carolina; eight grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews and two dear sisters-in-law, Ellen Gilder and Marjorie Pullmann.

Graveside service will be in summer of 2022 at North Platte, Nebraska. Memorials may be given in her name to donor’s choice.

The Reverend Richard E. Albers, pastor emeritus, Lincoln, Nebraska, departed this life on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, at the age of 86. He was born on November 16, 1935, in Shawano, Wisconsin, to Eric and Marie (Wambsganss) Albers.

Richard married Esther Marie Rosenthal on August 17, 1991. He worked for many years with the American Motor Company, then found his calling as a pastor. Pastor Albers served the following congregations during his ministry: as a lay minister/deacon, Grace, Fairbury, Nebraska (1988-1993); as a deacon, Grace, Round Mountain, Nevada (1993-2000); and following his ordination on October 8, 2000, as pastor at Grace, Round Mountain, Nevada (2000-2002). Pastor Albers retired in 2002.

Pastor Albers is survived by his wife, Esther Albers, Lincoln; one sister, Marie Schneider, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; two brothers, Mike, Chicago, Illinois, and John, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin; and numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family members.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Rev. Ronald Albers and Gerald Albers.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 510 S. 33rd Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. Interment will follow at the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, rural Harbine, Nebraska, at 1:45 p.m. on January 4.

Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Esther Albers, 7132 Stony Ridge Road, Lincoln, Nebraska 68507.

The Reverend Dr. D. Georg Williams, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Ainsworth, departed this life on Thursday, December 16, 2021, at the age of 71. He was born in San Angelo, Texas, on September 5, 1950. On July 21, 1973, Georg was united in marriage to Georgia Hall, and to this union one daughter, Rachel, was born. 

Pastor Williams graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, and was ordained on June 26, 1977. He began his ministry as pastor at Augustana and St. Paul Lutheran Churches, Alexandria and Mansura, Louisiana, from 1977-1979. He then received the call as pastor to Zion Lutheran Church, Ainsworth, Nebraska, in October, 1979, and was serving there until his death. 

A memorial visitation will be held on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service at Zion Lutheran Church in Ainsworth. The memorial service will begin at 2:00 p.m. Interment will follow in the Lutheran Cemetery northwest of Ainsworth. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials have been suggested to the Zion Lutheran Foundation in care of Zion Lutheran Church, 318 E. 4thStreet, Ainsworth, Nebraska, 69210. 

Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Georgia Williams, 42756 878th Road, Ainsworth, Nebraska 69210-1890.

Julie Anne Gierke Lazarchic, Commissioned Minister—Candidate Teacher, departed this life on December 2, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska. She was born on May 4, 1971, in Springfield, Illinois, to Gene and Linda Hagen Gierke. She was received into God’s family as His child through Holy Baptism on May, 23, 1971 at Zion Lutheran Church, Chestnut, Illinois. She reaffirmed her baptismal promises in her confirmation on March 31, 1985 at Peace Lutheran Church, Waverly, NE. She grew up in Spencer and Waverly, Nebraska. She graduated from Waverly High School in 1989. She attended Concordia University, Nebraska, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1993.  From there she went on to get her Master of Arts degree in Library Science at the University of Iowa in 1995.

Throughout her career she served as teacher at Luther High School South, Chicago, Illinois (1995-2002) and Immanuel Lutheran School, Seymour, Indiana (2002-2011). On July 27, 2007, she was married to John Lazarchic at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Seymour, Indiana. To this union was born a son, Caleb on May 18, 2010. They moved to Seward, Nebraska in 2011 to be near family. Julie was a stay-at-home mom and also served as a substitute teacher in the Seward area. In 2016 she began a teaching position at ESU 7 in Columbus, Nebraska, where she loved serving her students.

Julie was a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Seward, along with her family. She served on the PTL board for a few years, played piano for the St. John services at the retirement home, helped with the food pantry and with funeral lunches, was a driver to help take St. John members to medical appointments, served as a writer for the St. John newsletter, served as VBS snack coordinator and willingly served as Jesus’ hands and feet to help many people in need.

Julie is survived by her husband John and son Caleb; her parents Gene and Linda Gierke; one brother Jeff (Chris) Gierke and their children Jaret, Colin, Elizabeth, and Makayla; many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many many friends. She was preceded in death by her brother, Brian Gierke; grandparents, Arnold and Lillian Gierke and Ray and Florence Hagan; aunt, Judy Gierke and aunt, Karen Gehrke; and parents-in-law, Robert and Barbara Lazarchic.

Visitation will be Thursday, December 9 at Volzke Funeral Home in Seward, NE from 2:00-8:00 p.m. with family gathered from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  The funeral service will be held December 10 at St. John Lutheran Church in Seward.  Interment will follow the service at Seward’s Cemetery.  Those unable to attend the service are invited to join the live stream on YouTube St. John Seward Live stream.

Memorials may be made in care of St. John Lutheran School (Seward), Concordia University, Nebraska, or ESU7 Columbus, NE. (If giving to ESU7, please make checks payable to Lazarchic family with memo to ESU7).