Einar Daniel Unseth, 93

Published 10:24 am Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Rev. Einar Daniel Unseth, 93, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at his home in Lester Prairie, Minnesota.

Einar Unseth was born on June 29, 1925, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Edward and Ovedia (Newgard) Unseth of Westby, Wisconsin. At birth, he was laid aside as dead while medical staff attended to his mother and twin sister. A nurse, who was a cousin, found another doctor who revived him. Growing up on a dairy farm near Westby, he attended Westby-Coon Prairie Lutheran and was active in Sunday School and Luther League. Einar completed eighth grade at Unseth School and graduated from Westby High School. He enjoyed Future Farmers of America and playing cornet in the band. After graduation in 1943, Einar joined his parents in operating the family farm with draft horses. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served 1946-1948, stationed in Japan. After being discharged, he returned to the farm to assist his father with farming. Over the next several months, he struggled concerning his future. Because he loved farming so much, he desired to spend his life as a farmer. However, he sensed a call from God to enter the ministry. He sought help from a pastor who helped him to come to assurance of salvation. Then he yielded himself to God’s will and prepared for the ministry by enrolling in Augsburg College. In Einar’s words, “Over the years I tried to live a life which I hoped was pleasing to God. I was always uncertain as to whether I had succeeded. I continued to live with this uncertainty until one night…when I went to hear an evangelist. He preached on knowing for sure that we have eternal life. After the service I went to talk to him. Through his explanation of 1 John 1:9 he showed me how I could know that I had forgiveness of all my sins and how I could have eternal life. That night, I went to bed knowing for the first time that if I died that night I would go to Heaven.”

That fall, Einar began studies at Augsburg toward becoming a pastor and missionary, graduating in 1951. In his senior year at Augsburg, his roommate compelled Einar to go to a Valentine’s Day party where he met Luella Duncomb, a nursing student from Cresco, Iowa. They married on Aug. 23, 1952, and he continued studies at Luther Seminary along with milking a cow he kept in the city.

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After he graduated in 1954, Einar Unseth was ordained as a Lutheran minister. The family flew to Japan to begin missionary service along the coast southwest of Tokyo. He began a church in Fujieda and also served congregations in Yaizu, Shimada and Kikugawa, ministering in Japanese.

In 1963, Einar and family returned to the U.S., where he served Zion Lutheran Church in Woodland, Michigan. Seeking to be near aging parents, he served Mona Lutheran Church in Mona, Iowa, and Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church in Lyle, Minnesota. During his ministry there, he began outdoor drive-in services, which have continued every summer since 1972. When he changed church bodies, he served Ortley Free Lutheran Church in South Dakota. To begin a home mission church, he moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where he started Calvary Lutheran Church, which he served for 10 years. At age 63, he accepted a call to a home mission church that was meeting in a farmhouse near London, Minnesota, Faith Lutheran Church; he served until 2001, when he retired after having served as a pastor for 47 years. During these years, his life was devoted to the Lord’s work and to his family. During his retirement, he began a monthly Christian gathering for seniors, the Golden Age Fellowship, which he continued for 13 years. In 2008, he moved to Lyle, then to Lester Prairie in 2014. Additional interests were gardening, reading and sports. He was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church and the American Legion.

Einar’s national responsibilities included serving on the Board of Directors of the Latin American Lutheran Mission, as secretary for the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, and serving on the World Mission Committee of the AFLC.

Einar is survived by his wife, Luella, Lester Prairie; sons, Nathan and Ruth, Lester Prairie, Peter and Carole, Duncanville, Texas, Andrew and Eliane, Shakopee, Minnesota, Reuben and Amy, Rochester, Minnesota, Benjamin and Ellen, Camarillo, California, and Joseph and Joy, Peoria, Illinois; 21 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; twin sister, Alice Johnson, La Crosse; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Eleanor Hogden; and his grandson, Spencer Unseth.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, at Faith Lutheran Church in London. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at the church. Burial service will be immediately after the funeral at Woodbury Cemetery in Lyle. Schroeder & Sites Funeral Home of St. Ansgar, Iowa, is in charge of arrangements.