Walter Luken, age 95, of Hazel, SD, passed away on Saturday April 2 2022, at Prairie Lakes Hospital in Watertown, SD. He ”walked” into heaven and was finally able once again to “see” the faces of the many loved ones who were there to greet him and “feel” their loving embrace. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 8, 2022, at Cornerstone United Methodist Church. Rev. Mark Tracy and Pastor Bobby Postal will officiate. Music will be provided by Nona Clifford and Janet Struckman as organists with Sherwin Linton as soloist. Family is requested to meet by 10:00 a.m. at the church for a family prayer service. The service will be Live-Streamed on the Crawford-Osthus website and Facebook Live.
Visitation will be at Crawford-Osthus Funeral Chapel on Thursday from 5-7 p.m.
Burial will be Mt. Hope Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers will be all of Walter’s grandchildren. Active pallbearers are his grandsons: Brock Gasper, Jason Hutt, Adam Kuhlman, Caleb Kuhlman, Derek Luken and Eric Luken.
Walt was born January 28, 1927, at Hazel, the oldest child of Wes and Frances Luken. He attended Hazel High School graduating 1946. Walt found the love of his life, Ila Mae Robish of Hazel, after dating two of her sisters. He terrorized and teased Ila Mae by driving up one ditch and then the other causing his future father-in-law to lament saying “then you think you want to date that crazy fellow?” They spent their life in the Hazel community on a farm south of Hazel, retiring in town, and later moving to Watertown.
Walt had a huge passion for the farm all his life and his face would light up to discuss anything concerning farming with anybody. He knew every square inch of the land he had farmed and continued to talk to his son about every aspect through the years, the soil, the weather, the repairs and the price of grain. The highlight of the year in his later life became the fall when he’d get to ride in the combine for harvest after he could no longer run the machinery himself to help out. Nothing made him happier than to get the chance to ride out sometimes right into the fields to check the crops so he could help “advise.”
Walt was a lifelong member of Kellerton United Methodist Church, loving the little country church that played good ole gospel music which he thoroughly loved. He favored quartets and harmonies and traveled to many country music and chuckwagon shows wherever he could find them even if just watching on TV or listening on the “Alexa”. Walt read the whole New Testament through on his reading machine when he could no longer see, from March until September after Ila Mae passed away in 2019.
Walt and Ila Mae wintered in Arizona for 38 years beginning at age 49. They began with a fifth wheel camper graduating to a more permanent home. They loved meeting new and old friends, entertaining them, and playing cards of all sorts, traveling to see them at other times of the year.
Walt struggled through many illnesses, one incredibly serious one in 2008, at age 80 for 10 1/2 weeks when he suffered an infection the size of a grapefruit in his chest that involved 4 surgeries (losing part of his collar bone and lung) , a graft, kidney dialysis and proceeded to recover and was blessed with 14 more years. As Walt’s eyesight failed in the later years, he still could navigate anyone and everyone where he or they needed to go with his “own” GPS system. Ila Mae became his site for many years and he became her direction.
Walt suffered the terrible hardship of the loss of two children with cancer. Though indescribably difficult, Walt always loved life, loved fun, and teasing people. He always rolled with the flow with what life dealt him and found a way to adapt. He always had a positive attitude and saw the best in people. He loved to make people laugh. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. He was deeply cherished for the kind wonderful soft amazing man he was and he will be hugely missed.
Walt is survived by his children, Curtis (Jill) Luken of Hazel, SD and Wanda Gasper of Black Hawk, SD; his daughter-in-law, Leah Luken, of Watertown, SD; his son-in-law, Myron Kuhlman, of Hazel, SD; 11 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; 3 great-great-grandchildren; and one sister, Jean Fuerstenau of Guymon, OK.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ila Mae; his parents, Wes and Frances; his son, Neil Luken; his daughter, Joy Kuhlman; two grandchildren, Heather and Virgil; one brother, Dean; and his son-in-law, John Gasper.
Memorials may be directed to the Hazel Cafe.
To send flowers to Walter's family, please visit our floral store.