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Arthur Henry Holthaus, 102—whose passion for music brought joy and comfort to countless persons during his lifetime—passed away at the Edgewood, Iowa, Convalescent Home on November 4, 2018.
For more than 80 years, his “singing hobby,” as he called it, was shared through solo performances at hundreds of weddings, funerals, and other community events, including both of his daughters’ weddings and his wife Lucile's funeral. Inspired by his mother, Clara, who always was singing around the family home, Art (as a teenager) sang in the gospel quartet at rural Immanuel Methodist Church. While attending Colesburg High School, he was a member of the senior-class mixed quartet and played the trumpet in the orchestra. In his spare time, he also drove a horse-drawn school bus (and a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter) that hauled sixteen children. He graduated in 1934.
Art was a founding member of the Ever-Ready Four Quartet in 1945—named in honor of the Colesburg Ever-Ready Grange. The group won state competitions twice, traveling by train in 1946 to the national contest in Portland, Oregon, where they placed third, and to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1955, where they placed second. During more than 60 years, the quartet entertained locally and throughout the state of Iowa. In 1950, Art joined the Elkader, Iowa, Keystone Barbershop Chorus and sang with them for 32 years. In addition, he performed in the Manchester, Iowa, Tirrill Park productions of Oklahoma! and in the barbershop quartet of The Music Man. His last public performance was on his 101st birthday at the Greeley United Methodist Church, where he sang "One Day at a Time" and "Take My Hand, Precious Lord."
The son of Fred and Clara (Schwietert) Holthaus and the youngest of four children, Art was born on the family farm about five miles southwest of Colesburg, Iowa, on April 22, 1916. He met his wife Lucile (daughter of Lena Livingston and Lyle Sutton of Delhi) at a Colesburg-Delhi girls basketball game, where Lucile was playing for Delhi. Joined in marriage on June 19, 1940, the couple had five children and were together for 59-1/2 years.
Working in partnership with his dad starting in 1937, Art purchased the family farm in 1948 and operated its dairy and hog business until 1964. At that time, he liquidated the dairy herd and signed on as manager of the new Del-Que Farm Service Store in Colesburg, a position he held for fifteen years. In 1984, he sold the Holthaus Century Farm, purchased a home in Manchester with his wife Lucile, and lived there for twenty-five years.
Art's uncanny memory and ability to recall events in great detail until the very end of his life made him a rich resource for local history buffs. In addition, he loved and collected Ford tractors and old player-piano rolls. He was an avid horseshoe player, joining the Iowa Horseshoe Pitchers Association in 1980. For the next twenty years, he competed in statewide tournaments, winning several top awards in his division at the Iowa State Fair.
Active in his community and church, Art served as vice president of the Delaware County Farm Bureau Association in 1964. He also was chairman of the Farm Bureau 4-H Boys Committee for five years, culminating in his being chosen as an honorary Delaware County 4-H member, an activity that was unavailable to him when he was a young man.
Art is survived by daughters, Darla (Gary) Kelley, Adel, Iowa, and Diane (John) Joling, Grand Rapids, Michigan; granddaughter, Jennifer (Cory Wilcox) Heemstra, Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and, son, Douglas Holthaus, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Also surviving are nieces and nephews, Sandra Holthaus (Kenneth) Kirby, Strawberry Point, Iowa; Claryce Holthaus (Albert) Hartke, Colesburg, Iowa; Wallace (Jean) Holthaus, Bridgewater, Virginia; Jean Gentz Dempster, Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Howard Gentz, Manchester, Iowa.
Art was preceded in death by his wife, Lucile (1999); twin daughters, Marilyn and Carolyn, who died a few days after birth (1949); parents, Fred (1942) and Clara (1974); brothers, Adrian (1938) and Harold (1958); sister, Olive (Elmer) Gentz (1974); and nephew, Harlan Gentz (1983).
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Greeley United Methodist Church or the Edgewood Convalescent Home.