On the beautiful, sunny afternoon of October 16, Elmer Eberhardt
took his last breath at Hospice House in Eureka after some brief
medical issues. He celebrated his 96th birthday just one month prior
to his passing.
Elmer was born a first generation American in Bayard, Nebraska, on September 14, 1925. His parents, Heinrich (Henry) Eberhardt and Mary Kuxhausen, emigrated to the United States as Volga Germans from Russia. Elmer was the fifth of six children who lived and worked on the family farm.
As a four year old child, he became responsible for watching his younger brother, Robert. Elmer’s father passed away in 1941 when Elmer was six years old. His mother remarried, and, when he was several years older, Elmer worked in the farm fields with his siblings thinning and weeding sugar beets among other farm chores. At 16 years of age, Elmer helped haul 1200 tons of sugar beets. Farming was difficult, back-breaking work. His mother insisted that the children get an education during a time when many farm kids left school for good. Elmer graduated from Nebraska’s Minatare High School in 1943.
While on a double date with a friend, Elmer met Betty, who was actually his friend’s date. After the friend stole Elmer’s date, Elmer got even by giving Betty a big kiss. Betty says she saw stars and that is how their courtship began. Betty and Elmer were married in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on November 26, 1948. Elmer worked at Bunk’s store, on Hwy 26 east of Scottsbluff, before and after they married. Elmer and Betty moved to Omaha so Elmer could attend the Electronic Radio and Television Institute. Elmer worked at a creamery there while going to school. They moved back to Scottsbluff where their first child, son David, was born in 1949. Elmer worked in bean plants in Lincoln and Scottsbluff, where he was responsible for the maintenance of the electronic sorting equipment.
Living in the Midwest, neither Betty nor Elmer wanted a farm life. Elmer was looking for a better way to make a living, and his older brother, Al, offered a solution. Al ended up in northern California after serving in the Air Force in WWII, where there were many jobs that paid good wages in the timber industry. After a year of contemplation, Elmer and Betty moved their little family to Humboldt County, where Elmer began working for Fairhurst Timber Company. Their second child, daughter Diane, was born in 1955 followed by daughter, Debra, in 1957.
Eventually, Elmer and Betty were able to purchase a small house in Eureka. Over the years, Elmer wired, plumbed, sheet rocked, painted, roofed, built cupboards, etc. remodeling their home. In 1977, they moved to their home in Cutten. From the moment they set foot in Humboldt County, Elmer and Betty began exploring local rivers, beaches, and forests. Elmer enjoyed spending time picnicking, fishing, camping, and taking Sunday drives with Betty and their children. Elmer was a good provider for the family. He made certain they had all that they needed, including taking annual family vacations. They enjoyed visiting interesting places and seeing the sights in many states.
Elmer later worked for Thurman B. White as a timber cruiser and land surveyor and hiked many, many miles through northern California timberlands. He was a state licensed forester. Elmer’s final job was with Belcher Abstract and Title Company in Eureka from where he retired in 1990.
Elmer loved his grandchildren. He attended their school functions, birthday, holiday parties, and other important events. He loved having them come to visit. Elmer probably spent the most time with his three young granddaughters who lived just down the road and attended the nearby schools. Grandpa Elmer and Grandma Betty provided afterschool care and some summer care. The girls spent many hours at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. If they weren’t baking with Grandma, or listening to Grandpa read stories to them, they were in the yard with Grandpa Elmer checking out the flowers, vegetables, and apples. They went on many walks in the nearby forests. Grandpa would teach them about trees, cones, plants, and insects. Often they would pick up rocks or even stray golf balls from the forest. The Sequoia Park and Zoo was another favorite place. There, Grandpa would push them on the swings or take them exploring the Duck Pond, trails, and the zoo.
Family and travel were very important to Elmer. Over the years, the family made numerous trips back to the Midwest to visit family and friends and to attend family reunions. He and Betty also loved to attend many of their Minatare High School class reunions. They visited numerous National Parks and Monuments throughout the western US, and they also ventured into western Canada. As OCTA (Oregon California Trail Assn) members, Elmer and Betty hiked pioneer trails from Missouri westward making lifelong friends with other members. On several occasions, they traveled with their children and grandchildren introducing them to many of the same pioneer sites as well as many National Parks. After retirement, Elmer and Betty hiked to the top of Mount Lassen and to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Elmer was always willing to assist his family with yard work, building projects, painting and moving projects. Elmer was a regular blood donor – he gave 14 gallons of blood at the Northern California Community Blood Bank. For many years, Elmer enjoyed bowling with the Senior Bowling League at Harbor Lanes in Eureka. He continued bowling even after reaching the age of 90. He sometimes took some of his young granddaughters to the bowling lanes instructing them how to properly throw a bowling ball.
Although he never wanted to be a farmer, the “farm gene” was in his blood. He planted many vegetables in his back-yard gardens over the years. He made homemade pickles from cucumbers and enjoyed zucchini squash, tomatoes, and much more. Each year he would harvest a never-ending crop of ‘Sweet 100’ tomatoes for all to enjoy. He loved planting flowers – especially Marigolds.
When they moved to Cutten, Elmer and Betty walked a daily two-mile route from 1977 until 2009. Later, they walked closer to home for safety reasons. They quickly made friends with many neighbors and neighborhood walkers over the years. Elmer and Betty held hands as they walked, and they enjoyed their last walk in April 2020 when balance issues intervened. Elmer and Betty celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary in November of 2020.
For about 17 years, Elmer and Betty accompanied their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to rented beach houses on the southern Oregon coast. The Gray Whale on Rouge Shores Beach in Gold Beach became the family favorite. Elmer and Betty would walk the beach, play games with the kids, and enjoy food and laughter at family dinner time.
Elmer is survived by his loving wife of 72 years, Betty; his children, David Eberhardt (Marie), Diane Larkin (Dan), Debra Harper (Pat); his grandchildren, Matt Eberhardt, Marc Eberhardt (Sara), Jacob Eberhardt (Emily), Sara Farley, Brooke Eberhardt, Amy Borden (Huna), Katie Larkin, Hannah Gossi (Jared), Emily Larkin Jewell (Brandon), Steven Harper (Rachel); 13 great-grandchildren; and one great, great-grandchild. He is also survived by nephew, Vern Eberhardt (Joy); nieces, Judy Eberhardt, Dawn Nelson (Kyle); several cousins, and family friends.
Elmer was preceded in death by his father and mother; his siblings, Leo, Ruth, Alexander, Theodore, and Robert; and a grandson, Bryan Hubbard. Throughout his 96 years, Elmer lived a full and active life. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends, but, the lasting memories of his life will be treasured forever.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations may be made to Hospice of Humboldt, where Elmer received the most loving care in his final days, to the Northern Community Blood Bank, or to the Sequoia Park and Zoo in Eureka.
A small family Celebration of Life will be held in the near future.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Elmer Eberhardt’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.