Rural Marion – Phyllis Litke, 88, died April 25, 2019 at Bethesda Home in Goessel. She was born September 24, 1930 in Hillsboro to Jacob B. and Agnes (Thiessen) Wiens. She married Virgil Litke June 15, 1948 at Ebenfeld M.B. Church rural Hillsboro. Survivors include: sons, Glenn (Sheila) Litke of Rural Hillsboro, Sid (Priscilla) Litke of Port Washington, Wisconsin; daughter, Brenda Jordan of Rural Marion; brother, Eldon (LaVonne) Wiens of Rural Hillsboro; 9 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Predeceased by: husband, Virgil Litke in 2019; daughter, Sharon Litke; sister, Marlene (Mrs. Larry) Schwind. Celebration of Life Service 10:30 a.m. May 7, 2019 at Ebenfeld M.B. Church Rural Hillsboro. Family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. May 6, 2019 at Jost Funeral Home in Hillsboro. Memorials to Mission Eurasia in care of Jost Funeral Home P.O. Box 266 Hillsboro, KS 67063. Online condolences at www.jostfuneralhome.com
Life Sketch Taken From the Funeral Bulletin
Phyllis Rose Wiens was born September 24, 1930 to Jacob B. and Agnes (Thiessen) Wiens at Salem Hospital in Hillsboro, Kansas. On April 25, 2019, she joined her husband, Virgil Litke, in the presence of Christ, just 9 days after he passed away. The first of three siblings, Phyllis spent her childhood years on the Wiens farm one mile west and ¾ mile south of Ebenfeld church. She attended the local Creswell School walking daily a mile west from the Wiens home to the Creswell corner along the 13-mile road. Her walk to school would come to include her younger brother Eldon and younger sister Marlene, each born about 3 years apart.
While not pointing to a specific time or day, Mom tells of placing her faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior at an early age, giving her lifelong assurance her sins were forgiven and she would live forever in heaven. The influence of her father and mother’s sincere faith certainly played a significant role. Mom was baptized on August 8, 1943 at Catlin Creek two miles east and a mile south of Aulne. It was delightful to realize some years later that her future husband Virgil Litke, 4 years older, was baptized at the same place and time. His spiritual journey was quite different, but God certainly smiled that day knowing the long spiritual harmony they would enjoy.
Mom showed early interest and talent musically. Her parents made the sacrifice to provide her excellent piano training from a teacher in Lindsborg, a 100 mile round trip. At 25 cents a lesson and later 35 cents, the investment paid great dividends as piano and organ became a sincere passion the rest of her life. She served as organist and pianist for countless services, performances and unseen practices the next 60+ years at Ebenfeld church primarily. The greatest impact of her musical ministry was probably the influence on her children who would each serve the body of Christ musically. Glenn would go on to advanced training enabling him to sing, teach and lead choral groups professionally. Brenda would use her training to sing and serve countless groups on the piano for decades, following mom’s footsteps. For Sid school music groups were a starting point for ministry helping prepare him for a career as a pastor.
Mom became interested in Virgil Litke, when their paths crossed as Dad returned to church after some years of spiritual struggle. Dad’s newfound commitment to Christ was key to the attraction between the 16-year-old girl and 20-year-old young man. After rediscovering each other on a notable night of Christmas caroling that found them somehow always together in the front seat of Virgil’s 1938 Ford V-8, they married at Ebenfeld on June 15, 1948. They celebrated 70 years last summer as family and friends gathered around them in the farmhouse they had shared throughout their marriage.
Children came quite soon as first-born Sharon, then Glenn, Brenda and Sidney came into the growing farm family. Mom’s life as a dedicated farm wife and hard working mom brought her great joy and challenge for over a decade. Then heartache would enter her life to a depth only a mom could understand. Our oldest sibling Sharon became sick with leukemia as a 7th grader. In spite of seeking all treatment available, Sharon left the presence of her Mom and Dad and entered the presence of Christ on October 13, 1962, at the age of 13 years.
Sharon’s death would mark our family’s life in a profound way – bringing great pain, but also refocusing Mom and Dad’s commitment to spiritual and eternal priorities for our family. Family devotions started each day and both Mom and Dad were marked by a devotion to prayer and trust in God.
Mom’s commitment to Dad in their marriage became a hallmark of their 70+ years together. She enthusiastically supported and enjoyed his love of history, genealogy and antique collecting. We were never quite sure who was more excited when Dad came home with a “find” that few others could understand. She unswervingly supported Dad’s career involvements, whether it was farming, carpentry at times, or then raising poultry for 18 years to help pay for tuition at Berean Academy, a Christian high school in Elbing Kansas. Though a beautiful and feminine woman, Mom could often be seen in baggy farm clothes carrying 2 five gallon buckets of chicken mash throughout the poultry barns.
When Dad began a career focus establishing Litke Products, Mom was his greatest encourager and his eager partner. For 47 years Mom and Dad travelled together visiting accounts in 4 states almost every week of the year. The Lord blessed them as they looked back at logging 1.7 million miles on four vehicles without a major accident. Mom was at the wheel the great majority of those miles. Mom fully enjoyed her role driving, planning routes and finding favorite restaurants and motels at which to retire at days end. Though they carried their own Bible, they were always inspired to find a Gideon Bible in a motel dresser drawer to use for morning devotions.
This second career would become particularly important when another life heartache developed. When Brenda’s marriage separated, she came home with three very young children. Mom and Dad would provide not just a temporary haven, but a new permanent home for Brenda and her young family. This “second family” would flourish as Jennifer, Jonathan and Jeremy were raised on the same farm as their Mom. Older brother Glenn also lived on the farm for many years becoming part of a unique family equation as Brenda raised her children and Mom and Dad travelled in their business.
We will always remember Mom for her commitment to the family and to the Lord. She fully enjoyed her life with Dad. She embraced her role as an onsite Grandma to Brenda’s children. She formed an especially close bond with Brenda working side by side with her in both the household and the family business for 36 years. She rejoiced as Glenn met and married Sheila, enjoying regular fellowship as they farmed nearby. She was proud of Sid and his wife Priscilla in pastoral ministry in faraway Wisconsin where their family grew to include Eric, Grace, Scott, Joanna, Charlotte and Sarah.
God’s faithfulness was maybe most evident in recent years as both Mom and then Dad had cancer surgery and treatment that slowed them down. Yet even then God enabled them to recover sufficiently to enjoy travelling in their business several more years until Dad’s second hip surgery in 2015 brought a close to the travelling part of Litke Products.
Mom leaves behind 3 grateful children, 9 blessed grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren who will benefit from her spiritual legacy. We as her family praise God for her impact in our lives, her fervent prayer life and her love for the Lord. She now enjoys Christ’s presence alongside her husband Virgil and Sharon their first-born daughter.