Reverend Neal Ahart

Rev. Neal Kelly Ahart was called out of this earthly life on Friday, April 26, 2019.  Visitation will be held 5-7pm Friday, May 3 at Peace Lutheran Church, Alcester, SD followed by a prayer service at 7:00 PM.  Funeral services will be 2:00 PM Saturday May 4 at Peace Lutheran Church.  

He was born the son of Joseph A. and Mary R. (Kelly) Ahart on November 7, 1923 near Crofton, Nebraska.  At the age of one, he moved with his family east of Aurora, Colorado.  In 1928 he started school in a country school out on the prairie (Sable), and then to Fort Morgan, Colorado at the Grant Naz school.  The family moved back to Iowa in 1929 where they lived in Early until moving to Sulphur Springs in 1932.  In 1934 they made the Storm Lake, Iowa area their home finally settling on a farm six miles northwest of Storm Lake.  It was at this time that Neal attended school at Alta, Iowa.

During his junior year in high school, his brother went into the service forcing him to quit school to help his parents on the farm.  Neal worked on the farm until he went into the service in 1945 where he served with the 1253rd combat engineers in Europe, France, Belgium, and Germany.  He was honorably discharged at Fort Sheridan, Illinois in March of 1947.  Upon his discharge he joined the army reserves and continued to farm with his father and brother for a year until in 1948 he rented a farm northeast of Storm Lake where he continued to farm until 1953.  

Neal was baptized on April 2, 1939 in the Presbyterian Church in Alta, Iowa.  He was confirmed at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Newell, Iowa on March 27, 1949.  He was instrumental in starting Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Swea City, Iowa where he served as a trustee and financial secretary.

Neal was united in marriage to Eileen Larson of Albert City, Iowa on September 24, 1950 in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Newell, Iowa.   To this union God blessed them with six children Kathy, Bonnie, Jay, James, Betsy, and John.  In 1955 Neal and Eileen moved their family to a larger farm near Armstrong, Iowa.  In 1958 Neal was injured in a farming accident; it was at this time that he was told he should not continue to farm.  He then decided to finish his education and do what God had called him to do as a sophomore in high school. He finished his studies by going to the office of the superintendent in Armstrong each afternoon for two years to complete high school.  He graduated in 1961.  

Upon graduation he intended to go to Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois, but that required two years of college.  His pastor at that time encouraged him to go to the Lutheran Lay Training Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He applied there, but their enrollment was full for the first year.  He applied for the following year and was accepted; he began his education in the fall of 1962.  Eileen and the children joined him there in January of 1963 following their farm sale.

Upon graduation from LLTI in 1964, the family moved to Rapid City, South Dakota.   Neal was sent as a missionary to the ranch country in Northwest South Dakota.  Stationed out of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Neal also had a radio service on KBFS called “A Time for God” every Sunday at 8 A.M.  The family moved to Belle Fourche in 1965.  He served the people at Nisland, Arpan, Gustave, and Castle Rock.  While serving in the Northwest Mission, Neal helped start a new mission in Grassy Butte, North Dakota and held services at Ridge, Montana.  

After five years of faithful service, the work load was too much for him to handle and he asked for help.  When none was given, he asked to be placed on a call list.  He received a call from the Phililp-Milesville congregations and began to serve the people at Our Redeemer Lutheran and First Lutheran in July of 1969.  He served there until 1975 when he received and accepted a call from Peace Lutheran in Alcester, South Dakota.

He accepted the call with the understanding that he would be given time to receive further schooling in order to become an ordained minister.  He was installed at Peace Lutheran in Alcester on November 9, 1975.  Neal attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri during the summers and was ordained on October 22, 1978 by Rev. Paul Wendling.  He served there until the death of his wife Eileen on October 26, 1984.  He then received a call from the Clayton-Emery parish and began his time there in 1985.  

While serving St. Peter’s Lutheran and St. John’s Lutheran, he married Marjorie Johnson from Ringstead, Iowa on August 16, 1986.  He received a call from Iowa District West to serve St. John’s at Climbing Hill, Iowa which had been vacant for over 30 years.  He began his service there in July of 1991.  He took the call with the understanding that he would be retiring in three years.  

In October of 1994, Neal and Marjorie retired to Cassville, Missouri.  The church there was vacant, so after eleven months as a part of the congregation he began serving them for three years.  In September of 1997 he went to Peace Lutheran which was served by three retired ministers and helped there until July 2003.  Following his service there, they moved to Hartley, Iowa where Neal was installed as the visitation minister for St. Paul Lutheran Church until January of 2007.  It was at this time that he truly retired and began attending St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sanborn, Iowa.  

Throughout his lifetime Neal was a member of several church boards and organizations.  He served as the counselor for the South Dakota District LWML, Lutheran Layman’s counselor for the Badlands District, Campus Ministry Task Force, and the Adjudication Commission of the South Dakota District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Neal was preceded in death by his parents, wife Eileen, son-in-law John Paul Noteboom, grandson Cody Noteboom, sisters Doris Gustafson, Kathryn Wadsworth, and Clara Dierenfield, brother Enos, and step-son Steven Johnson.

He leaves to mourn his death his wife Marjorie of Alcester; children Kathy (Jerry) Noteboom of Lead, Bonnie Noteboom of Sioux Falls, Jay (Vickie) Ahart of Alcester, James (Joan) Ahart of Alcester, Betsy (Keith) Knodel of Freeman, and John (Tracy) Ahart of Valencia, CA; foster son Rev. Richard (Rose Marie) Klein of Golden Lake, Ontario, Canada;  11 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandson and another one on the way; a step-daughter Suzanne (Mike) Parsons of Cassville, MO and step-son Robert (Linda) Johnson of Milford, IA; three step-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren; and a host of other relatives and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials should be directed to the South Dakota District LWML.


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