Derrell Nitz died on December 30, 2020, with his beloved wife, Patricia “Pat” joining him in eternal life on January 7, 2021.
Derrell was born on July 16, 1935 to Fred and Rose (Burman) Nitz of rural Rothsay. As a two-pound preemie, he began life as a scrappy kid, determined to overcome challenges that became part of his character throughout his life. After a month in the hospital, he came home to the farm in his first bed, a shoe box, and a wardrobe borrowed from his sister Barb’s doll. Growing up on the farm, Derrell, or Derry as he was best known by family and friends, developed his love for the outdoors and nature, particularly hunting and gardening. The Nitz boys also loved sports and Derry, along with his brothers developed a reputation as being excellent athletes.
Meanwhile, in Foxhome, Joe and Hazel Houghtaling welcomed their firstborn, Patricia Ann (Patty to her family), on April 4, 1939. Pat and her siblings grew up in a loving home, experiencing many adventures with friends and cousins. Pat was a good student and developed her lifelong love of music at an early age. In second grade, Pat would take the train from Foxhome to Wahpeton every Saturday for piano lessons. Pat graduated from Breckenridge High School in 1957, and always looked forward to getting together with classmates at reunions.
After graduating from Rothsay High School in 1953, Derrell enlisted in the US Army where he was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Upon completing his service in the Army, one night he went to a dance in Foxhome where he saw “the prettiest girl in the room” and asked her to dance. On March 5, 1960, Derrell and Pat became permanent dance partners when they were married at Foxhome Lutheran Church. Throughout their 60-year marriage, Derrell frequently referred to Pat as “my bride”.
Derrell and Pat began their married life in Rothsay where Derrell worked at the lumberyard. They began their family with Michael Paul (Mike) arriving on February 22, 1961 and Julie Ann completing their family on January 18, 1963. Later that year, Derrell accepted an offer to manage Farmers Lumber and Supply and the family moved to Evansville which became their life-long home. This new adventure like everything Derrell and Pat entered into was a true partnership, with Pat handling the bookkeeping for the business until they sold it.
Over the years, Derrell and Pat became integral parts of the Evansville Community. Derrell was a proud veteran and member of the American Legion throughout his life, served as a volunteer firefighter for many years, and also served on the board of the Evansville Historical Foundation. Pat was a member of the Legion Auxiliary, election judge, chairman of Evansville’s Centennial and Sesquicentennial celebrations, and served as Treasurer of the Mound Grove Cemetery Association. At the time of her death she managed the Evansville Historical Foundation, which suited her passion for genealogy and history to a tee. One of Pat’s special memories was going to Sweden with Monty and Julie to meet her cousin Ulla and Ulla’s family.
Derrell and Pat’s involvement with their community at Faith Lutheran Church was a significant part of their lives. Derrell served as usher and Pat as congregational treasurer for many years as well as being active in Women’s ministry including leading Bible Studies. Pat’s musical ministry was well known as she shared her gifts as organist, choir accompanist, Joyful Hearts member as well as accompanying numerous soloists and playing for countless weddings and funerals.
Derrell and Pat’s family was their greatest source of joy and pride. Throughout the years, they enjoyed attending Mike and Julie’s school and sporting events. The family has particularly fond memories of Mike’s years playing town-team baseball for Evansville. Derrell could always be counted on for providing a keg of beer if Evansville beat neighboring rivals Brandon or Ashby. When Mike and Julie married, they welcomed Kelly and Monty into the family and loved them as if they were their own. They doted on their grandsons and great-grandsons and were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their latest great grandson, due in March to Kevin and Brooke. Derrell and Pat also loved their time spent with the Nitz family on Little Pine Lake and Houghtaling reunions at Chahinkapa Park.
Derrell and Pat were preceded in death by their parents, Fred and Rose Nitz, Joe and Hazel Houghtaling, Pat’s sister, Carol Hovland, Derrell’s brother-in-law Xavier “Eggs” Walz and nephew Gary Walz.
Left to cherish their memory are their children, Michael (Kelly) Nitz of Big Lake and Julie (Monty) Carlson of Evansville, grandchildren Wally (Lexi) Dunning, Kevin (Brooke) Nitz, and Ryan Nitz, and great-grandchildren Crosby and Wilson Dunning. They are survived by Derrell’s siblings Barb Walz, Richard (Rona) Nitz, Bill (Barb) Nitz, Jim (Dolly) Nitz, Pat’s brother Kent (Margie) Houghtaling, brother-in-law Doug Hovland and many nephews, nieces and cousins.
Services are Pending with the Glende-Nilson Funeral Home of Evansville.
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