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Cherokee, Iowa

Elwood Joe Lundsgaard, 83, of Cherokee, passed away Thursday, March 1, 2018, at a Cherokee hospital following a brief illness.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cherokee, with the Rev. Jean Morse officiating. Burial will be at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cherokee. There will be military rites at the cemetery by L.A. Wescott Post #2253 of the V.F.W. Visitation will be at Boothby Funeral Home from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, with the family present from 4 to 7 p.m. There will be a family prayer service at 10:15 a.m. at the church on Friday. Online condolences can be left at

Joe was born on Nov. 19, 1934, on a farm near Ruskin, Neb., to Emil and Mabel (Krogh) Lundsgaard. He was the fourth of five sons. He started school in Quimby, Iowa, returned to Ruskin, and finished his schooling in Cherokee, graduating from Wilson High School in 1952. He loved sports, participating in football, basketball, track and baseball. His 1950 and 1951 Braves football teams were the undefeated Lakes Conference Champions under coach Otto Huebner, and the 1952 Braves basketball team coached by Bill Luther qualified for the state tournament in Iowa City.

Joe attended Iowa State College for one year on a football scholarship before transferring to the University of South Dakota. He was proud to captain Harry Gamage’s last Coyote Football team in 1955 before graduating with a degree in business in the spring of 1956. He quickly enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he was Regimental Honor Man at the Naval Great Lakes Training Center. He then served two years as a signalman aboard the U.S.S. Energy, a minesweeper ported out of Long Beach, Calif.

After the Navy, Joe returned home to begin farming and raising livestock with his brothers Conrad and Dennis in the Cherokee area. Joe met a beautiful young woman named Janice K. Steen from Holstein, Iowa. The two loved to dance at the many dance halls that used to be in northwest Iowa at the time. They were married in the middle of a snowstorm on Dec. 29, 1968. Joe was active in real estate development and farming until the harvest of 2000. He was particularly proud that he could help Cherokee become the community it is today.

Joe enjoyed serving on different boards and in elected office. He was president of Western Cherokee Mutual Insurance Board, a director of Cherokee State Bank, president of the Cherokee School Board, member of the State of Iowa Tax Study Committee, president of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, founding member of the Cherokee County Cattlemen, Rotary Club member, Bethlehem Lutheran Church Council member, director of Western Iowa Tech Community College, member of the Western Iowa Tech Foundation Board, Cherokee County Supervisor, and an executive member of the University of South Dakota Foundation.

Joe was humbled to be inducted into the USD Coyote Hall of Fame in 1986, recognized as USD Letter Club Man of the Year in 1987, named to the USD All-Decade Team in 1989, honored as the Cherokee Citizen of the Year in 1996, Tomahawk Relays Honorary Referee in 1996, and awarded, along with Janice, the USD Foundation’s Inman Award for distinguished service in 2008. They were proud to establish the Lundsgaard Educational Trust, which provides scholarships to help Cherokee Washington High School students attend the University of South Dakota.

Joe loved challenges and being active, especially outdoors. He enjoyed farm chores, hiking, running, swimming, basketball, traveling, sightseeing, attending sporting events, and Grandpa Joe time with his granddaughters. He also loved being born 100% Danish, traveling to Denmark to visit family, and enjoying that unique heritage.

Survivors include his loving wife of 49 years, Janice Lundsgaard of Cherokee; daughter, Greta (Jeff) Vaughn of Anamosa, Iowa; son, Joe (Amy) Lundsgaard of rural Cherokee; brother, Conrad (Marlene) Lundsgaard of Cherokee; brother, Douglas (Victoria) Lundsgaard of Eugene, Ore.; sisters-in-law, Stephanie Lundsgaard of Wayzata, Minn., JoAnne Lundsgaard of Cherokee, Dolores (John) Johnson of Cushing, Iowa, Donna Steen of Spokane, Wash., Constance Steen of Waukee, Iowa, Cathy Steen-Gnade (Paul) of Mountain View, Ark., and Vickie Steen of Mountain View; grand-daughters, Ella and Ingrid Vaughn of Anamosa; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Emil and Mabel Lundsgaard; and his brothers, Warren and Dennis.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Cherokee, the Cherokee Athletic Booster Club or the University of South Dakota Foundation.

Obituary writer

the life of: Elwood Joe Lundsgaard
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