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Elwin Merritt Sietsema

January 3, 1924 July 21, 2007
Elwin Merritt Sietsema
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Obituary for Elwin Merritt Sietsema

Elwin Merritt Sietsema of Worthington died Saturday, the 21st of July 2007 at the Arnold Memorial Nursing Home in Adrian, Minnesota.  He was 83 years old.     Elwin was born on January 3rd 1924, the son of Altman and Cora Sietsema, in Worthington, MN.  He was preceded in death by his older brother Robert Sietsema, and his older sister Carmen Millard.  He married Dorothy Louise Struve of Stewartville, Minnesota in 1951, and they had three children, Mary, Tom, and John born in 1956, 1961, and 1966, respectively.     Elwin attended Worthington schools.  Following graduation from high school in 1942, was inducted into the US Marine Corps where he later fought in combat operations at Saipan and Tinian in the South Pacific.  He was wounded there and received a Purple Heart.  Elwin was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1945 and enrolled in the Los Angeles Art Center to study photography.  He graduated from the arts school and returned to Worthington, where he opened his own photography studio in 1951.  In a matter of a few years he earned recognition as a Master Photographer, bestowed upon him by the Minnesota Photographers Association.  At that time, there were only 13 photographers who had reached this status.     During his professional career and into his retirement, Elwin contributed to the community, sitting on various boards with such organizations as the YMCA and the Worthington Community College.  He was also a founding member of the Worthington Arts Center as well as a member of the Worthington Chamber of Commerce, The Minnesota Photographers Association, and Noon Kiwanis.  A strong believer in land conservation, he made provisions in his estate to fund long-term conservation projects in the area.  An active member of the First United Methodist Church in Worthington, he served on the current church’s Building Committee.     Throughout his life, Elwin’s passion for music was expressed in his love for the string bass.  He began his musical career in junior high school, and went on the road with the Tiny Little Orchestra throughout the Midwest during his high school years and then again after his wartime service.  (His late nights and associated fatigue were duly noted by some of his high school teachers).  During his service as a US Marine, Elwin also played bass with famed bandleader Dick Jurgens at such noteable locations as the Hollywood Bowl.  He continued his musical passion in mid-life by performing with the Great Plains Symphony Orchestra.  Even in his last years in Florida, he plucked and bowed with the Gulf Coast Big Band of Naples.     He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dorothy, his children Mary, Tom, and John, and one grandson Thomas.     Memorial services will be held on Saturday, July 28, 2007, at 11:00 a.m., at the First United Methodist Church in Worthington, Minnesota, with the Rev. Gordon J. Orde officiating.  Burial will be held in the Worthington Memorial Gardens.  Benson Funeral Home in Worthington is in charge of the arrangements.    

Memorial donations be designated for the First United Methodist Church Organ Fund, or the Lake Okabena Improvement Association (LOIA), in care of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

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