A private Mass of Christian Burial for the immediate family of George Bakker, age 87, of Marshall, will be held on Saturday, September 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church. A live stream of the service will be available at www.holy-redeemer.com/live.html at 2 p.m. A walk through visitation will take place Friday from 4 – 7 p.m. at Rehkamp Horvath Funeral Home in Marshall. Social distancing and mask requirements will be observed. Interment will follow the service at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Marshall.
George Henry Bakker died on September 1, 2020, at the age of 87 at the Prairie Home Hospice McLaughlin House surrounded by his family after a courageous four-year battle with metastatic prostate cancer which had spread to his bones before diagnosis.
George was born to Henry and Clara (Lens) Bakker at home on March 7, 1933, and grew up on the family’s farm in rural Ruthton with his nine siblings. While farm life involved a lot of work, he also had many fond memories, including ice skating on Twin Lakes near their farm. George walked to District 57 Shelbourne Township Country School with his siblings. He left after completing and graduating from the 8th grade to help his family full time on the farm. As a young man, George ventured out and found work as a hired farm hand for the Louwagie family in rural Green Valley. He learned much and developed great respect for them and said he would not have been able to begin farming had it not been for their generosity. He was grateful for that experience his entire life and shared the story often with his children. He eventually was able to rent his own farm nearby and soon began his life there with his bride, Audrey Ann VanOverbeke, after they married on February 23, 1957. With the help and encouragement of his brother-in-law and sister, the couple moved to a farmsite east of Russell in rural Lyon County in 1964 which they purchased and later named “Bakker’s Acres.” It became the hub of activity for their family of seven children. Over the years, George planted countless acres of corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa; raised hundreds of head of beef cattle; and fixed innumerable and seemingly endless items that tend to break on a farm. Some might think he bled green – John Deere green that is. In addition to his working equipment, for several years George had fun with his sons finding and maintaining a collection of two-cylinder John Deere tractors that they drove in area parades. He was a strong role model, strict and on occasion maybe just a bit stubborn. He also supported his kids by attending their various activities, but especially enjoyed watching their basketball games. George was an exceptionally hard worker and very self-disciplined. He was a talented self-taught welder who made everything from farm equipment to a swing set. Although recently replaced (after 50 years of use!) that swing set had been enjoyed by three generations at Bakker’s Acres. A serious car accident in 1986 led him and Audrey to retire early and in 1990 they moved to their home in Marshall. To his delight, he continued to help on the farm often. While mostly focused on the farm and his family, over the years George served on various boards, delivered Meals on Wheels and tried to help other good causes when he and Audrey could. He was a dedicated parishioner at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church for more than 50 years and also became a committed volunteer, especially after retirement. When his health began to limit the projects he could do, he continued to visit the staff at the Parish Center and bring them his homemade chocolate chip cookies (a skill he acquired when Audrey was no longer able to bake). George had a strong faith and instilled that in his family. He would lead them in the Rosary during Advent and other times of the year. He also faithfully served Audrey, especially as she faced a variety of health challenges, all while he confronted his own health issues. He enjoyed visiting with company and could talk farming for hours. Anyone who knew him, knew Sunday night was popcorn night! He loved making it (with his special popcorn pan of course!) and sharing it…on any other night of the week too. In recent years, he kept physically active and found pleasure in walking daily at the Marshall Mall with Audrey and the new friends he made. He had an unshakeable devotion to his family and was lovingly called “Gramps” by his many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
George leaves behind his wife, Audrey; daughter Anita (Pat) Fletcher of Wapiti, WY, and children: Charlie and Colt (Jessica); son Gregg (Becky) of Washburn, WI; and children: Isaac (Kirsti); Eve (Mike) Boaheng, Jake (Stephanie) and Caleb (Rachel); daughter Angela (Al) Pool of Milroy, MN; and children: Nathan (Kaylan) and Megan (Paul) Johnson; daughter Arlene (Tom) Schwerzler of Rochester; and children: Ted (Nicky) and Amanda (Blake) Koebke; daughter Alice (Dean) Vroman of Milroy; and children: Tony, Jackie (Karsten) Anderson; Jen (Michael) Miranda; and Andrew (Courtney); daughter-in-law Linda of Balaton; and children: Adam (Brianna); Alex (Katie); and Andrew (Sam); and daughter Amy (Scott) Hunt of McHenry, IL; and children: Grace and Eli. He also leaves 27 great grandchildren (with three more on the way); brother Charles (Sharon); sisters Ellen (Frank) Brentine and Cecilia (Rodney) Lipp; brothers-in-law Robert Lanoue and Richard Bot; and sisters-in-law Lucella VanOverbeke and Deloris VanOverbeke. He was preceded in death by his son, Gordon; parents; brothers James (as an infant), James, and Raymond, sisters and brothers-in-law Agnes & George Prairie, Elizabeth (Lanoue), Theresa & Joseph Laleman, Mary & Julius DeSaer; and brothers and sisters-in-law Vincent VanOverbeke, Phyllis Bot, Francis and Lucille VanOverbeke, John and Doris Labat, Ronald VanOverbeke, Arthur (James) and Agnes VanOverbeke, and Marlen and Judith VanOverbeke.
If anyone wishes to remember George with a memorial the following are encouraged: Holy Redeemer Foundation; Holy Redeemer Foundation – Tuition Assistance; Calvary Cemetery Ops Fund; or Prairie Home Hospice.