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Obituary of Lavern Jerome, 'L.J.' Melhus

Lavern Jerome, 'L.J.' Melhus, 83, returned to his Lord Sunday, March 25, in Warm Springs Specialty Hospital of New Braunfels, TX. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle, neighbor and friend, kind to everyone he met with a sincere “thank you” of genuine gratitude to the end. L.J. was a proud Norwegian with a huge heart, gentle spirit, warm personality, large hands with a firm handshake, told wonderful stories and could be stubborn. Faith, family and farming were the cornerstones of his life. L.J. was a honest man who believed a deal was made with a person's word and a handshake. He was born May 4, 1928 to Joseph and Clara (Melby) Melhus at the family homestead in Norway, KS, where he lived the majority of his life. L.J.'s grandfather, John I. Melhus immigrated from Norway Europe in the late 1800's, established the farm 'Fredheim' with his wife Kjerste. L.J. attended Norway Grade and High School, until the latter closed during World War II. He graduated from Concordia High School, Concordia, attended vocational technical school and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. L.J. was a hardworking, dedicated farmer and cattle rancher who marveled at all of God's Creation and the changes he saw evolve over his lifetime. With his grandfather and father, he started farming with a team of horses at the age of four during the 'dirty 30's' and shucked/husked corn with a palm hook. His son joined the family operation during which time farming evolved to planting and harvest with two semi-trucks needed to keep up with the combine. L.J. married his lifelong sweetheart Barbara Jo Anne Dutton on May 10, 1953. The couple were proud parents of twin daughters and a son, in addition to helping raise numerous other young people who lived with them at various times. He especially enjoyed helping sponsor two trips with the Our Savior's Lutheran youth to the Canadian Boundary Waters. L.J. was proud of his wife's musical and artistic gifts and worked with her design business, Interior's by Jan. L.J. was also proud of and supported his children and grandchildren with all of their activities and involvements. He helped his daughter Melissa when she owned The Victorian Rose flower and gift shop in Scandia, with her cattle herd and more recent market gardens. In addition to farming, L.J. also assisted his son Joe who raised game birds and co-founded/owned Kansas Creek Gamebirds, upland gamebird hunting. Prior to his death, L.J. was very proud and pleased to help his grandsons advance their educations. After a tornado destroyed most of the five generation homestead, the house burned in a fire and the couple lost their only son, L.J. and Jan bought a Winnebago and started to travel. Highlights in the past two years were a 10,000 mile trip from Kansas to Alaska, and a visit to Panama with their high school foreign exchange student 'adopted daughter,' Lupe Gorgas and family. The couple enjoyed spending part of the winter months with friends at the Fredericksburg RV Park in TX the past few years. L.J. enjoyed hunting, fishing, collecting guns and had become an avid reader of Louis L'Amour books. He had many interests but enjoyed spending time, visiting and drinking coffee with his beloved family and friends most of all. He was very appreciative of the doctors and medical staff who cared for and befriended him. L.J. was baptized, confirmed and a life-long member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Norway. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Jan, and daughter Melissa, of the home; daughter The Rev. Melinda Melhus, Virginia, MN; grandsons Kody Joseph, of the home, and Spencer, Abilene, step-grandson, Kevin Baldwin, Paola; daughter-in-law Betsy Reed, rural Concordia; sister-in-law Janet (Melhus) Loring, Scandia; nephews Shannon Melhus, Scandia; Scott Melhus, Long Beach, CA and Sid Melhus, Salina; together with numerous other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, infant brother Donald, brother Harold Dean Melhus and son Joseph Dutton Melhus. The Celebration of L.J.'s Life will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Norway. The Rev. David Carlson will preside, assisted by The Rev. Melinda Melhus. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested. Inurnment will be at a later date. Online condolences and information at The family has been assisted with arrangements by the Bachelor-Surber Funeral Home, Belleville, Ks.


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