On September 20, 2019, Anna Ruth (Lillig) Altenhofen, 96, completed her life’s journey at Garden View Memory Care Household at Park Centre in Newton. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Wallace Family Funeral Home & Crematory in Newton IA. A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m., Thursday September 26th, with visitation the hour before at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1115 S 8th Ave E in Newton where she was a long time member. Final burial will be at the Sacred Heart Catholic cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Memorials may be left at the funeral home or at the church on the morning of the service. If you are mailing the memorial to the funeral home, please add, Attn: Altenhofen Family on the envelope.
Anna Ruth Altenhofen came to this world Sept. 3, 1923, the eldest child of Frank P. and Veronica (Woltering) Lillig of Keota, Iowa. Anna Ruth spent her early years on the family farm, starting school in Keota when her younger sister Barbara was old enough to go to grade school. During the depression, her family left the farm and moved to town, where her father operated the Lillig Feed Store. Anna Ruth completed her education in Keota, graduating from high school in 1942. After graduation, she began working at Miller’s 5 Cent and $1 store in Keota, where she was a valued employee, and developed her business acumen. With the advent of WWII, Anna Ruth was entrusted to manage the store when the owner joined the service. Thanks to Anna Ruth, the store had the most profitable Brach’s Candy display in Iowa. Mr. Brach invited her to Chicago to the factory and escorted her around Chicago.
Anna Ruth loved dancing to the Big Bands that came to Wellman, Iowa in the 40s and dressing in stylish clothes. Anna Ruth met Keith John Altenhofen of Harper, Iowa, who had recently returned from the front in Italy during WWII. Despite not being able to dance, Keith captured her heart.
They married December 27, 1945, and moved to Sigourney, Iowa, where they owned and operated a restaurant. Their family began with the birth of their daughter, Sharon Kay in 1946, then Twyla Ann in 1948. Anna Ruth and Keith moved to Fairfax, then Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he began his furniture career working for Sears Roebuck in the furniture department while Anna Ruth raised their young children. Thomas John joined the family in 1950.
The enterprising couple moved to Grinnell, Iowa to operate their own business, Holiday Furniture, where Anna Ruth was bookkeeper and salesperson. As their business grew so did their family with the birth of Cindy Louise in 1957; Tim James in 1958; and Gary Joseph in 1960. A move was made to Newton with the opening of Holiday Furniture on the east end of town. The business continued to grow with the purchase of Newton Furniture in downtown Newton and the change of Holiday to Discount Furniture. Their youngest child, Michael Jon, was born in 1962. During this time, Anna Ruth (now going by Ann) continued to care for her family and work full time with Keith as a partner in the business. Ann loved playing cards with their friends, going to her three youngest sons’ baseball and basketball games, taking care of her roses, and watching college basketball games on TV.
Ann and Keith expanded again with the consolidation of both stores in Newton to a new building on the east end of Newton in 1979 (the present day Newton Furniture, now owned by their son Tim). In the early 80’s, they started another furniture business in Spencer, Iowa with the purchase of Matt Furniture run by Sharon and Gary, now owned by Gary.
Ann took on the role of full-time caregiver for her husband Keith through his five year battle with cancer, rarely leaving his side at home or in the hospital. Ann went back to work full time at the business in Newton after the death of Keith in 1984, until her retirement at age 75.
Christmas was always a special holiday for her and the family as she prepared unforgettable meals for her children, and later their spouses and grandchildren. Her cheese potatoes and ham balls were always in big demand, along with Grandma Lillig’s home made noodles. Ann kept her home in the country spotless and was always prepared to welcome and treat her children as if their visits were a holiday.
When the time came that Ann had to leave her home in the country to move to Park Centre, she handled it with considerable grace. Ann found she knew many of the residents because of her years at Newton Furniture and attending Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and she was able to reconnect with them and make new friends. Ann passed her time embroidering tea towels for her granddaughters and playing Uno. She spent the last part of her journey in Garden View. Residents and staff alike commented on what a sweetheart Ann was when family came to visit.
Ann is preceded in death by parents, Frank P. and Veronica Lillig; husband, Keith Altenhofen; son, Michael Jon Altenhofen; brother, Mike LeRoy Lillig; grandchildren, Emily and Sara Altenhofen and a great grandchild, Milo Stadsvold.
Ann is survived by daughters, Sharon (Paul) Stadsvold of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Twyla (Ken) Rush of Edina, Minnesota; and Cindy (Joel) Peterson of Peoria, Illinois; sons, Tom (Jane) Altenhofen of Ankeny; Tim (Karen) Altenhofen of Pella; and Gary (Pam) Altenhofen of Spencer; fourteen grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by two sisters, Mary Jane Schaffer of Washington and Barbara Lyle of Sigourney.