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Virgil Litke

d. April 16, 2019

Rural Marion – Virgil Litke, 92, died April 16, 2019 rural Marion.  He was born October 12, 1926 to William W. and Lizzie (Buller) Litke in Hillsboro.  He married Phyllis Wiens June 15, 1948 at Ebenfeld M.B. Church rural Hillsboro.  Survivors include: wife, Phyllis Litke of Rural Marion; sons, Glenn (Sheila) Litke of Rural Hillsboro, Sid (Priscilla) Litke of Port Washington, Wisconsin; daughter, Brenda Jordan of Rural Marion; 9 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.  Predeceased; daughter, Sharon Litke: brother, Luther Litke; infant brother, Marvin Litke; sister, Genevieve Litke.  Celebration of Life Service 10:00 a.m. Saturday, April 20, 2019 at Ebenfeld M.B. Church Rural Hillsboro.  Interment at Ebenfeld Cemetery Rural Hillsboro.  Family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday at Jost Funeral Home in Hillsboro.  Memorials to The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 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

Virgil Gene Litke was born October 12, 1926 in Salem Hospital, Hillsboro, Kansas. He lived at the same address his whole life and passed away quietly there on April 16, 2019. He was the son and youngest child of William W. and Elizabeth (Buller) Litke. Tragedy struck early and often in the Litke household. His oldest brother Marvin died at birth. His sister Genevieve passed away from leukemia at age 19 while engaged to be married. His older brother Luther died 6 years later at age 21 when he was struck by a drunk driver while changing a tire in Peabody Kansas. So at age 15, Virgil, the youngest, was an only child.

Dad’s spiritual journey took some unusual and difficult turns. He was baptized on August 8, 1943 at Catlin Creek. He often recalled with regret how during his teen years he chose to walk away from spiritual things. In God’s sovereign plan however, those years of regret became a source of motivation for the rest of his life when at age 19 Dad turned decisively from a rebellious lifestyle to commit his life fully to Jesus Christ. His fervency in obeying and serving his Savior continued throughout his life, becoming his most important legacy for his 3 children, Glenn, Brenda and Sid, 9 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.

God seemed to reward his newfound commitment to Christ when upon returning to church life, Dad suddenly noticed our future mom, the pretty pianist who was then a 16 year girl. Mom and Dad were married June 15, 1948 and celebrated 70 years together this past summer. Though mom cannot be with us in this service honoring her lifetime partner, due to her failing health, we anticipate the joyful reunion they will soon have in heaven.

Their life together would be marked by their own tragedy when their first born Sharon became ill with leukemia. She passed away onOctober 13, 1962, at the age of 13 years. It was the day after Sharon sang Happy Birthday to Dad who slept on a cot by her side all night at the hospital.

Sharon’s death would mark our family’s life in a profound way – bringing great pain, but also refocusing Dad and Mom’s commitment to spiritual priorities for our family. Dad led our family through grief with a determination that it would mark us with hope, not bitterness. We hardly knew a breakfast without Dad leading family devotions. Dad and Mom became avid listeners to Christian radio for music and Bible teaching.

Dad embraced the hard work of farming, but also supplemented the family income in early years through custom wheat harvesting and carpentry. Dad also raised poultry for 18 years. In the early 70’s Dad started a business producing and selling personalized cast iron patio seating. When that business burned to the ground in 1977, Dad soon launched Litke Products. He distributed a variety of products eventually settling on a wide selection of tools and related products sold largely in auto parts stores and implement dealerships. Dad and Mom would greatly enjoy this business as they travelled to dealers in a 4-state area nearly every week, putting on almost 2 million miles in over 40 years.

The extra income became a true blessing when in the early 1980’s Brenda’s marriage separated and she was invited home to the farm with her three young children. Dad would support this second family throughout their childhood and be one of their father figures while Brenda became a crucial part of Litke Products in the office at home while they travelled. This unique household would also be home to Glenn who shared the farming responsibility with Dad. God honored them all as they supported each other.

Dad is known quite widely for his vast comprehension of the history of Marion County, Mennonite immigration and local Indian history, and for his immense knowledge of agricultural, and other antiques. His love for collecting antiques was not birthed in any financial value but from his passion to preserve and appreciate the history of the pioneer lifestyle and the early stages of agricultural technology. He authored 2 books of his personal family history. One is about his grandfather and inventor, Jacob W. Buller of Hillsboro, and the other is an exhaustive genealogy in 1990 of the 4000 descendants (at the time of writing) of the 5 children of Johann and Dorthea Liedtke who emigrated from Russia in the 1870’s. His last outing the week before his passing was to a Marion County historical meeting about local historical trails where the presenter acknowledged Dad claiming, “This man knows more history than the rest of us put together.”

Dad was unique and remarkable in many ways, but the true legacy we as family will remember most is his love for the Lord, for mom and for our family. He was the first to acknowledge his constant gratitude of God’s grace for his failures and is now with his gracious Savior.

Virgil Litke’s Family

Wife – Phyllis Litke

Daughter (deceased): Sharon Litke (age 13)

Son: Glenn and Sheila Litke, Hillsboro, KS

Daughter: Brenda Jordan, Marion, KS

Daughter: Jennifer and Jarod Ebenhack, Newhall, CA

Justin, Jaden, Daphne, Dora, Brendan

Son: Jonathan and Lori Jordan, Newton, KS

Makenzie, Adelyn, Emerson, Camille

Son: Jeremy and Amy Jordan, Edmond, OK

Alice, Elsie, Sadie, Virgil, Lucy

Son: Sid Litke, Port Washington, WI

Son: Eric & Sara-Jean Litke, Cedar Grove, WI

Leona-Rae, Caris-Jordan, Nolan

Daughter:Grace and Evan Skelton, St. Louis, MO

Clara, Oliver, Arlo

Son: Scott (William) Litke, Iraq

Daughter: Joanna and Nathan Friberg, Mesa, AZ


Daughter: Charlotte and Dan Pruzina, Aurora, CO

Daughter: Sarah and Stuart Friberg, Thiensville, WI


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5 thoughts on “Virgil Litke

  1. Our deepest condolences. He’s rejoicing with the Savior. His life’s work is done. Without a doubt he has heard the Master say, ” Well done thy good and faithful servant.”
    Please know the Harris’ are praying for everyone.

  2. Dear Mrs. Litke, Glen, Brenda, Sid and families,
    Along with you I feel your loss. Virgil was a godly man who loved his Lord and his family. You have a tremendous legacy to enjoy. And though this time is difficult, I rejoice with you that He is enjoying all the good things the Lord has prepared for him. And soon we’ll join him! May your hearts be embraced by the presence of Jesus!
    Sincerely, Paul Wright

  3. I met Virgil only one time but the memory of meeting him has lasted all these years. It was 1970 something and I had just arrived at Tabor for my freshman year. I signed up for a Mennonite heritage tour that had a stop at Virgil’s farm. He asked my name and when I told him he said he had something to show me. He took me to a well north of his place and raised up water for me to drink. He told me that this water is from a well that was hand dug by my Great, Great, Grandfather. I’ve never forgot what he did for me that day and I’ve told my own children about this experience he gave me.

    Mark Just

  4. I spoke with Virgil by phone once and later met him on a tour of the springs of Marion County. I called him to buy copies of the genealogy book he published. Virgil told me about going to the Just Farm to sit on the front porch and listen to the “older boys” play their instruments and sing. He said my dad was a hero of his growing up because he would let a youngster like him tag along and not treat him like s little kid or a nuisance. My dad was Clarence J Just, youngest son of Jacob J Just. I know Virgil was busy, but he was the hero that took the time to tell me some stories about the younger man my dad never had time to tell me about as he died at such an early age. I’m sure Virgil was ready to go home, but the world would have loved to keep you longer. May the Lord welcome you and bless your loved ones.

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