So loving and so loved. Those words tell of the life story of Alvina Elsie Emilie (Engel) Hoffbeck. Alvina Hoffbeck, 92, died of old age, peacefully, at Gil-Mor Manor, Morgan, Minnesota, on Friday, September 24, 2021. Her funeral will be Tuesday, September 28, 2021, at 3:00 p.m., at Bethany Lutheran Church, rural Morgan, with burial there. Visitation will also be at Bethany Lutheran on Tuesday, September 28, prior to the funeral services from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Arrangements are with Nelson-Hillestad Funeral Home of Morgan.
Alvina was the fourth of five children of William and Lydia Engel, born on April 1, 1929. Her childhood home was five miles northeast of Morgan, Minnesota, on the Engel farmplace located in Sherman Township along the Morgan-to-Franklin road. In her childhood, Alvina attended grade school at Plymouth District #73, a one-room schoolhouse, one-and-one-fourth miles from the Engel home place. Alvina had a love for words and excelled in English, penmanship, grammar, and also mathematics. After eighth-grade graduation at country school, Alvina attended Morgan High School with her older sister, Irene. They boarded in town with Mrs. Herbert Bluhm and graduated together in the class of 1948. Alvina met her future husband, the love of her life, Raymond Peter Hoffbeck of rural Morgan, at the Hugo Otto auction in September, 1947, in nearby Clements. She was selling concessions for St. John’s Luther League and she caught his eye. Raymond found out who she was and wrote her a letter asking for a date the next Saturday night. She wrote back and said “yes,” and they went to a movie in Redwood, then afterwards got a bite to eat at the “The Hut” diner. Raymond was ten years older than Alvina, for he had been away at war from 1942 to 1946, serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Raymond was a Navy storekeeper at Kodiak Island, Alaska, and on the troopship U.S.S. Hyde in the Pacific, traveling to Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Vietnam, northern China, and occupied-Japan. Raymond and Alvina were married on June 8, 1948, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Morgan. One of the songs at the wedding was “Oh Perfect Love.” After honeymooning at the Grotto of the Redemption in Iowa, they began farming on 167 acres of land near the Gilfillan railway stop, five miles northwest of Morgan. Together, Ray and Alvina became the loving parents of nine children—Janice, Larry, Ane Marie, Steven, Jeffrey, Dana, Brenda, Chris, and John. Raymond worked in the fields and milked the cows while Alvina took care of the household. She always had a large garden of flowers and vegetables; and did canning of tomatoes, sauerkraut, and sweet corn; helping butcher chickens; making homemade “medista puls” sausage, and baking bread; along with quilting, crocheting, and knitting. Always faithful, Alvina had worshipped God as a youngster at St. John’s Lutheran, Morgan, and then, with Raymond and the children, at Bethany Lutheran Church, located just a mile to the east across the corn and soybean fields from the farm. She always said her prayers every night and read a devotional each day. Tragedy struck on November 19, 1968, after 20 years of marriage: Raymond died in a farm accident, leaving Alvina widowed at age 39. The youngest child was age one-and-a half when Raymond died, so Alvina was responsible to raise all of her children to adulthood. Alvina never considered remarriage; she said “that she had had the best.” The oldest son, Larry, took over the farm operation, becoming a father figure for the others. Alvina later worked in the Morgan-Franklin (Cedar Mountain) Schools as a paraprofessional for preschool and elementary-students and in the library, 1976 through 1996. Alvina eventually moved from the farm into Morgan, living in her house at 219 Adams Street, for twenty years (1992-2012). In 2012, she sold her house and moved to Gil-Mor Haven, assisted living, then to Gil-Mor Manor in October, 2017, as her health faltered. Always, Alvina lived a life of faith in God, thankful for the many happy times, and trusting God through sorrowful times. Every year she read the entire Bible, and lived by its words; she prayed, she worshipped, and she cared for others. Alvina kept track of time on her wall calendar, writing a short note on each passing day, recording the work that had been completed, of life lived, and of love loved, and of sufferings she suffered. She kept track of all that was good and beautiful, of the responsibilities she had accepted, preserving her memories of joyful times and difficult times, too. With just a few words, she could encapsulate the feelings and essence of what had transpired. When her eldest son, Larry, died at age 34 in 1984, she wrote on the calendar, “So many decisions to make.” She turned again to the Lord, clinging to the words of her confirmation verse: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). Alvina will be most remembered for her love for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, for she marked each birthday and anniversary on her wall-calendar and gave a card and gift for each and all. Some of her grandchildren nicknamed her as “grandma up the hill.” Memories of playing card games, and Scrabble, and dominoes; and her witty sense of humor and catch-phrases, like “win, win, win,” and “get to work;” of her strength in adversity throughout her life; her sense of humor; and her lovingkindness remain. Most of all, those who knew her will remember her kind soul and gentle heart.
Alvina is survived by five sons, Steven (Dianne); Jeffrey; Dana (Judy); Chris (Sandra); John (Annette); and two daughters, Janice (Steve) Wyffels; and Brenda (Jay) Walgrave; daughter-in-law Wendy Hocking; twenty-three grandchildren; twenty-five great-grandchildren (with one on the way in December); and one sister, Evelyn Jensen. She was preceded in death by her husband Raymond; son Larry; daughter Ane Marie; grandson Jason Wyffels; daughter-in-law Lorie Hoffbeck; son-in-law David Ness; her parents; brothers Elden and Orlin; and one sister, Irene.