Ernest G. Claassen, 99 years of age, of North Newton, KS passed away in North Newton Saturday afternoon, July 17, 2021. He was born on March 2, 1922 at Beatrice to Henry and Margaret (Penner) Claassen and graduated from Beatrice High School in 1941. He lived near Holmesville, in Beatrice, with his son in New Mexico, and then moved to North Newton, KS in 2017. Ernest and Irene Dyck were married on January 20, 1951 near Whitewater, KS. He had farmed and also worked at Petersen Mfg. in DeWitt for 24 years. He had been an active member of the Beatrice Mennonite Church.\nSurvivors include 2 daughters Linda Claassen Jones and Marian Claassen, both of Newton, KS; son Richard Claassen and wife Ruth of Truth or Consequences, NM; 5 grandchildren Chris (Jen) Jones of Lawrence, KS, Hans (Niro) Swager of Seattle, Evan Claassen of Taos, NM, Andrew (Sharon Salinas) Claassen of Harrisburg, VA, and Czesia Claassen of Truth or Consequences, NM; 2 great grandchildren Paxton and Mackenna Jones of Lawrence; sisters in law Elfriede Claassen and Alice Dyck; many other family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife Irene (2009); twin infant daughters Rebecca and Ruth; brothers Henry and Arthur Claassen. \nFuneral services will be held at 10:00 AM Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 at the Beatrice Mennonite Church with Rev. Tim Amor officiating with masks and social distancing requested. The family desires casual attire to be worn. Private family burial will be held at the Mennonite Cemetery near Beatrice. The body will lie in state Tuesday, July 27, 2021 from 10-8:00 at the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice with the family greeting friends from 5-7:00 PM., and not at the church. In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) with the funeral home in charge. Sign Ernest's online guest book and watch his video tribute when completed at www.ghchapel.com.\nThese services have been entrusted to the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice.\nErnest Claassen Life Story\nErnie was born on March 2, 1922 to Margaret and Henry Claassen. He was born in his grandmother's house on West Court Street in Beatrice, 3 weeks early.\nMargaret was the daughter of JK and Helen Penner, who left their home in Russia, took a journey to South Asia, then settled west of Beatrice, Nebraska, in 1884. Henry emigrated, by himself from Russia in 1904, leaving all family behind. He remembered them in his prayers all his life as they lived through great hardship in Russia. Margaret and Henry married in their late 30's and had 3 sons, Henry, Ernest and Arthur. \nThe brothers grew up working on the farm, living through the great Depression. The boys spoke German at home, learned English in school. They walked a mile and a quarter to the little brick school that is now part of the Homestead National Monument. Ernie said he spent most of his time looking out of the middle window on the east side of the building. His grades are on display there. He graduated from Beatrice High School in 1941.\nAs Henry, Ernie and Art became of age during WWII, Ernie was farm deferred. After the war, he took over the farm from his father. He "bached" for 2 years, always describing it as a very rough time, since his housekeeping skills were lacking. There was no running water, no electricity, only wood and kerosene stoves. They loved farming with horses until 1947, when Ernie bought a small tractor, a Farmall M.\nErnie met Irene Dyck near Whitewater, Kansas through relatives, and asked her to marry him in a letter. She eventually married him on January 21, 1951 and moved to the little farmhouse with primitive conditions. They soon got electricity. They had a daughter, Linda in 1952. They also experienced the premature birth and death of twin daughters in 1953. Ernie often talked of that experience with great sadness.\nThe early 50's were hard on farmers, so Ernie and Irene gave up farming and moved to Beatrice, in 1951. He worked as a milkman and in several factories. This was a difficult time for the family, as the work situation was uncertain. Ernie was discouraged and worried. There was an ad in the Mennonite Weekly Review, by a Mennonite community in Aberdeen, Idaho, indicating that they wanted to grow by having people locate to their town and work on their farms.\nThe family moved to Idaho in 1956. It was a great experience for the couple, as people were welcoming them to the church community. Ernie carried irrigation pipes and worked in the potato harvest. Richard was born in 1958.\nErnie was homesick for Nebraska, and wanted to spend time with his elderly mother, so the family returned in 1960. As they looked for places to live, they drove through Holmesville, one Sunday afternoon. A house with a picket fence was for sale. Irene decided that she wanted that house, and lived there the rest of her life.\nErnie worked at Beatrice factories for a while, then pursued a job at Petersen's Vice Grip Factory in Dewitt. He worked there 24 years until his retirement. Irene went to work at BSDC at night for 25 years. They also raised a garden, raised children, and were active in the Beatrice Mennonite Church and Holmesville community. Their children are grateful for their commitment to their children that gave them the fortitude to keep going.\nThe house was heated with wood. As a family, they went to timberland in the area and cut up trees to use. At first, they used a 2 man saw, but Ernie eventually got a chain saw. Later, he got pallets of wood from Wymore, until he was 87. \nThe children loved their life in Holmesville, ran barefoot and climbed trees. They were in 4-H, took piano and swimming lessons. Many neighbors were from the Church of the Brethren, and it became their second home church.\nLinda, Marian, and Richard left for education and eventually settled in other parts of the country. The first grandchild, Linda's son, Chris spent many hours with his grandparents. Then Richard and Ruth had Evan, Andrew and Czesia, raising them in New Mexico. Marian raised her son, Hans in Washington State. Grandpa Ernie would take his grandchildren on visits around the community, introducing them with pride, and buying pop and candy behind Grandma's back. Chris married Jen and brought Paxton and Mackenna into the family. Two new granddaughters-in-law are Sharon, (Drew) and Nirosy, (Hans).\nErnie and Irene had 20 years of retirement, enjoying gardening and spending time together. Dad was a gentleman farmer. He had an acreage where he raised a few pigs or cattle at a time. He would spend hours there morning and night, puttering around. \nWhen Irene was about 80, she got COPD, and became more compromised over time. Dad took care of her for several years. He would do the kitchen chores with her telling him what to do. She died in 2009 after 58 years of marriage. They had a partnership based on love and mutual respect.\nErnie decided to live on his own in an apartment in Beatrice. He was "baching" again, but did better this time with the help of a microwave, a cleaning lady, indoor plumbing and McDonald's.\nIn 2014, Ernie decided to give up driving. Rich and Ruth had offered for him to live with them, so he moved to New Mexico. He attended the Baptist Church, ate at the Senior Center and interacted with people in that community. When he needed more care, he moved to Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton, Kansas. Linda and Marian lived nearby and visited him almost daily. He took an interest in this community too, asking staff about their families and their lives. They enjoyed him greatly. During 11 months of Covid restrictions, family could only visit at the window. He was bored at times, but often stated that his situation was better than so many. His health declined, but he remained positive. He was bedfast for only 5 days. He passed away on July 17, 2021 with his daughters holding his hands. He is now in his beloved Gage County, Nebraska.