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Robert's Story

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Robert Wharton Holdefer, 89, of Knoxville died surrounded by his loving family on September 1, due to complications of pneumonia. Bob was born on September 8, 1926, on a farm near Colfax to Forrest and Marie (Wharton) Holdefer.
His father died when he was eight years old. He and his younger brother, Harlan, were raised by his mother and his Aunt Ruth, and during high school years, their stepfather Louis Wilhelm. He attended school in Prairie City and Newton, and he graduated in 1944, "the class that went to war." He then served in the U.S. Navy.
During his military service he contracted tuberculosis and underwent an extended treatment at a V.A. hospital. This experience greatly marked Bob in his attitudes toward life.
In 1951 he married Lola Marie Riglin of Des Moines, his wife for 65 years. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Iowa State University and a master's from the University of Illinois, and taught in Iowa public schools in Sully, Attica and Knoxville. Many students (and their children) learned algebra and geometry from Bob. They remember him as a kind and patient teacher.
Bob and Lola put down roots and built their lives in Knoxville. They have been active in the First Reformed and Presbyterian churches. Their faith has been central to their lives. Bob also greatly loved his farm near Knoxville, where family loved to gather and hear Bob relate stories from his childhood. His children and grandchildren continue to enjoy this tradition.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his loving wife Lola, of Knoxville; his brother Harlan, of Chattanooga; children Robert (On) Holdefer of Seattle; Tom (Kathy) Holdefer of Mingo; Jean (Don) Forti of Milwaukee; and Charles (Anna) Holdefer of Brussels, Belgium. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, Elizabeth Sluis, Anne Haldeman, Tommy Holdefer; Katrina, Tyrus and Paul Holdefer; and Donnie and Andrew Forti; as well as four great-granddaughters, Ava and Wilhelmina Sluis, Charlie Haldeman, and Rosalia Holdefer.
For those desiring, memorial gifts may be made to Hospice, the Knoxville Public Library or the Presbyterian Church.
Published on September 6, 2016
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