Earl Renneke – 92

Former State Senator Earl Wallace Renneke of Rush River passed away on March 3rd, 2021 in the presence of his wife, daughters and grandchildren in Le Sueur at the age of 92. 

Both the visitation and funeral service will be held Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 2 p.m. at Scandian Grove Lutheran Church in Norseland preceding internment in the church cemetery. The visitation will be held one hour prior to the funeral service. Masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be followed. 

He married his high school sweetheart, Marjorie Eckberg, in 1951, and would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary together with her this coming summer.

As a young man, he attended the District 53 Country School, Gaylord High School and Studied at the University of Minnesota in the V-12 Training Program after which he returned to Rush River to farm. In 1969 he was elected to serve his fellow citizens as State Senator and was a  member of the Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus, later the Independent Republican Party. He would be re-elected eleven times by his constituents over the course of his service, and retired from office following the 77th Legislative Session in 1992 having represented citizens in Blue Earth, Carver, Le Sueur, McLeod, Nicollet, Scott, and Sibley Counties. His special legislative concerns were agriculture, natural resources, corrections and education. He supported vocational schools, offering promising opportunities for young Minnesotans outside of the college track, and was known for setting aside party politics to work for the benefit of all his constituents. He worked in a bipartisan effort to gain opportunities for people with special needs. After his time in the Minnesota State Legislature he served for over two decades on the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. He trusted in the good in people.

Aside from his service on the state level, Earl belonged to, and was an active member of the communities of Norseland, Rush River and the surrounding towns. He was a product of his Norwegian – German parents, baptised at the Norwegian founded Norseland Lutheran Church, confirmed at the German founded Trinity Lutheran Church, and attending the Swedish founded Scandian Grove Evangelical Lutheran Church. He was a member of the Sibley County Farm Bureau, Sibley and Nicollet County Historical Societies, Joseph R. Brown Board, Ney Center Board, Pioneer Power Association, Midland Co-op Le Sueur Board, Sibley-County Fair Association Board, and Scandian Grove Church Council. Earl was a co-founder of the Rush River Rushers 4-H Club and its first president. He was a good athlete, holding the mile record at the Gaylord High School for many years and enjoyed playing center field in Rush River’s baseball team.

While Earl was remembered by many for his public service, he is remembered most of all by his family for the great, unconditional love he gave them as a deeply caring husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Whether it was building hay bale forts and tire swings for his daughters, and later grandchildren, in the barn and on the farm, helping all of them learn to ride horses, or to carve P-51 Mustangs, attending countless concerts, games, meets, plays, fairs, recitals, graduations, birthdays, or weddings, Earl and Marjorie were always there. He enjoyed helping his son-in-law, Don Wiest, with the field work, harvesting corn until the age of 87, and plowing the fields with a moldboard plow until he was 89. He baled hay with his grandchildren on the hottest of summer days, never forgetting his 1/2 gallon Coleman water jug, filled with ice-cold water to share. Regardless of what life demanded, his family came first. Earl always made time for that.

Those who knew him also knew his unfading sense of humor. Every one of his daughters and grandchildren recall him explaining his early balding as having been due to a horse biting off the hair on the top of his head. He once asked a waiter at a restaurant if he had a hard time catching the fish he had ordered. He also enjoyed telling excited people to keep their shirts on and referred to them afterward as Ole, or Butch. He was innately curious with a passion for reading, history, sports, airplane models and teaching. He was one of few people that could take part in a great discussion by asking more questions than stating his own opinions. He enjoyed listening to polka cassette tapes from Whoopee John Wilfahrt and the Six Fat Dutchmen. Earl was a hard-working farmer, proud of his country, grounded in his faith, and most of all, a good person.

He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, brother, Wyman, brothers-in-law, Garfield Eckberg and Richard Larson, sister-in-law, Beatrice Renneke, children, Rochelle (Pat Hamilton) Renneke, Lynnette (Don Wiest) Renneke-Wiest, Kristin (Ron Morrill) Renneke Morrill, grandchildren, Kathryn (Sam) Kjellesvig, Elizabeth (Adam) Hahn, Trevor J. Renneke Wiest, Daniel Morrill, Jordan P. Renneke (Carina) Wiest, Steven Morrill, great-grandchildren, Stephanie, Alicia and Hailey Hahn, and Colton Morrill.

Earl is preceded in death by his parents, John and Olga Renneke, siblings, Davis (Mayme) Renneke, Clella (Ray) Franke, Harry Renneke, James Renneke, sisters-in-law, Flora Renneke, Marjorie Eckberg, and Marilyn Larson.

Memorials can be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, 32234 431 Ave., Gaylord, MN 55334, Scandian Grove Lutheran Church, 42869 Co. Rd. 52, St. Peter, MN 56082, or Comfort Residence – Le Sueur, 105 Plumb Run, Le Sueur, MN 56058.

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