The Austin Daily Herald looks back at those the community lost in 2015
Published 10:16 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The course of one year can bring memories — both great memories and sad ones. Many things can happen in the span of one year and lives can be drastically changed. Getting married, having a child, moving and much more can all happen in one year. A year also brings the passing of many loved ones, and 2015 saw many community staples pass away. Yet they will always be remembered in the hearts of family, friends and community members.
Here are just a few of the people who passed away in 2015. To view more people, visit www.austindailyherald.com/category/obituaries/
Myron and Betty Young
Myron and Betty Young spent more than 67 years together and they never spent many days apart. Myron died Jan. 11, and Betty passed away two days later on Jan. 13. The couple was known around town, as Betty was a probation officer for Mower County for 30 years, and Myron was a farmer with several jobs. The couple raised three children on Myron’s family farm in rural Oakland, where they remained most of their life.
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Valerie “Val” Pitzen was known to sneak cookies into somebody’s home or start up a program for children or the community, but she never liked getting recognition for all she did. Val, 54, of Stacyville, Iowa, passed away July 30, 2015, after battling cancer. She worked for Austin Parks and Rec as a recreation supervisor for about 29 years. Val was known for creating different programs to make opportunities for area children, whether it was sports activities or seeing different farm animals they might not get the chance to see otherwise. She started programs like summer track meets, a partnership with the Austin Noon Kiwanis, the Youth Activity Center, and enjoyed hosting the Minnesota State Volleyball tournaments, and many more.
Beth Berhow may have been small in stature, but she made a big impact to many preschoolers over her years of teaching. Beth passed away Sept. 11, 2015, at Methodist Hospital in Rochester, surrounded by loved ones. Beth was a teacher by career but also by nature. She worked in Albert Lea Public Schools preschool, as well as St. Edwards Church in Austin as the director of the preschool, was the director of the YMCA preschool for several years, worked for the Austin Public Schools, and finished her career at Discovery Learning Center.
Tyler “Ty” Anthony Berg, 24, passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 23, 2015, in Monticello, Minnesota. He was born March 19, 1991, to Ric Berg and Jodi Greenman in St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to Austin, Minnesota, soon after. He graduated from Austin High School and was signed up and prepared to attend St. Cloud State University in the spring, focusing on computer science. Growing up, Tyler was quickly known for his energetic and charismatic personality. He went missing Nov. 22, and his body was found near Monticello a few days later in a marsh south of Interstate Highway 94 near Dalton Avenue.
Ryan T. Holdgrafer
Ryan T. Holdgrafer, 27, of Rose Creek, Minnesota, died Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, at Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Campus in Rochester, Minnesota, from a brain injury sustained in a farm accident. Ryan Thomas Holdgrafer was born Sept. 12, 1988, in Austin, Minnesota, the son of Mark Holdgrafer and Debora Anderson. He was a lead welder and currently working as a welder for the RDM of Minnesota in Dodge Center. He enjoyed farming, raising cows, working on machinery, farm auctions and helping neighboring farmers. Ryan also enjoyed tractor and truck pulls and had received a number of awards. He loved spending time with his children, family and friends. He passed away after being struck by a skid loader bucket that was attached incorrectly.
Betty Lou Bredemus
Many recognize the famous actress Julia Roberts, but what many may not know is her mother, Betty Lou Bredemus, lived and graduated high school in Austin. Bredemus, 80, passed away on Feb. 19 in Los Angeles, according to People Magazine. The former acting-school teacher had been battling lung cancer. Bredemus was a 1952 Austin High School graduate. The 1952 yearbook lists choir, drama and the school newspaper — the Sentinel — as Bredemus’ hobbies her senior year.
Roger Bastyr was known for many things, but nobody can forget his love for people or his big, yellow truck. Roger, founder of Roger & Sons, passed away Sept. 12, 2015, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Home in Austin. Roger started his business in 1966 as Roger’s Lawn Service, expanding in the 1970s to Roger’s Industries, which dealt with sod work, super dirt and landscaping. In the 1980s, Roger changed his business to asphalting, along with other odd jobs such as snow plowing. Roger’s favorite color was yellow, which was the color of all the business’s trucks and vehicles.
Mark Allen ‘Skip’ Hastings
If a shoe was broken in Austin, Mark Hastings didn’t hesitate to fix it, even if he had to barter for the price. Mark Allen “Skip” Hastings, 78, passed away on March 17 after more than five decades selling and repairing shoes at his store, Hastings Shoe & Repair at 100 First Avenue NW in Austin. But for Mark, shoe repair and leather work was a family tradition. Mark opened Hastings Shoe Repair in 1957 and operated it until he had to step aside about four years ago due to health issues. One of his largest hobbies was his family and the friends he made through the store.
Bill Blom, 41, of Austin, Minnesota, died Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, while ice fishing, something he loved. Blom passed away of carbon monoxide poisoning while he was ice fishing in a fish house on Clear Lake in Waseca, Minnesota. His family hopes to honor his memory with a walk, which they hoped would become an annual event as Bill loved to walk and explore the nature center. Family and friends remember Bill for his outdoor escapades. Bill graduated from Austin High School in the Class of 1991 and worked as a printer at Pearson Education in Owatonna, Minnesota. He was a member of St. Olaf Lutheran Church. He was married to Molly Bublitz on July 20, 2002, at St. Olaf Lutheran Church. He was a strong man who loved the outdoors and enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening. He loved his wife and children, and loved spending time with his family and friends.
Austin bid farewell to a devoted civic and political leader earlier this year. Leo Reding, 91, passed away Oct. 12 after a brief illness. A former mayor, council member and representative, Leo was remembered for taking his job to give back, and he tried to use his time in several offices to better the community. If there was one thing that stood out about Leo, it was his character. Born in Austin on the family farm, Leo represented his community over the years through various political posts. He also worked for 30 years at Hormel Foods Corp. Considered one of the founders of the original Mower County Young DFL Party, Leo also was elected as a city council member in 1968, he served as mayor of Austin from 1970 to 1974, and he served for 18 years in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Robert Dean Knauer
A landmark Austin business said goodbye to another generation this year. Knauer’s Meat Market owner Robert Dean Knauer, the third generation to own the market, passed away at age 88 on May 26, 2015. The market has been in Austin for more than a century and continues to be owned by the Knauer family. Robert’s family remembers him for his pride in his store and his commitment to his customers. Robert started working at the market after his father had health issues. He enjoyed working at the market and never left.
Eddie Miller passed away unexpectedly at age 65 on June 7, 2015. Friends and family remember Eddie for many things, especially his love for music. Eddie played in many bands over the years, like the Blue Denim Band, Recent Lately, Ma’s Kids, and Twister. He also toured with the DC Drifters for many years as well as played solo shows. He traveled the United States, playing in states like Colorado, California, North Carolina and more.
Helayna Ly Nguyen
Helayna Ly Nguyen, 19, of Austin, died Sunday, April 19, 2015, at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. She was born July 26, 1995, in Austin, Minnesota, to Loc Nguyen and Mui Ly. A lifelong resident of Austin, Helayna graduated from Austin High School in 2013. She was currently enrolled at Riverland Community College in Austin and had worked at Ankeny’s on the Eastside since 2012. Helayna attended St. Augustine Catholic Church. Her bright personality and gentle soul touched many people. Helayna passed away after a rollover accident in Waseca County.
Catherine Anne “Catie” “Cat” Krebsbach
Catherine Anne “Catie” “Cat” Krebsbach, 32, of Austin, Minnesota, died Friday, June 19, 2015, at her home. Catie was born Jan. 26, 1983, in Austin to Joseph and Sharon (Frein) Krebsbach. She attended Queen of Angels School through the seventh grade and graduated from Lyle High School. She worked at Kids Korner from 2001-2004, the Discovery Learning Center from 2004-2013, and Holy Cross from 2013-2014. She was an avid photographer and started her own photography business: Cat Snaps. Photography was her passion. Catie was also an artist and spent many hours sketching and painting with her family.