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Melvin Ocken - November 03, 2012

Melvin Jens Ocken of Holyoke was born Jan. 21, 1932 in Staplehurst, Neb. to Martin Ocken and Alvina Fritz Ocken. Melvin had celebrated his 80th birthday this past January with a large gathering of family and friends. Melvin died Nov. 3, 2012 in Holyoke.

Melvin became a lifelong Lutheran when he was baptized at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Staplehurst and then confirmed at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in York, Neb. Melvin was educated in the York schools and graduated from York High School in 1950.

On June 22, 1952, Melvin was united in marriage to Betty L. Naber at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Waco, Neb. The family grew as Melvin and Betty welcomed four children into their family—Deb, Jim, Cindy and Steve.

Melvin’s roots in agriculture ran deep, and he was proud to be a farmer his entire life. Melvin started his farming operations in eastern Nebraska near York in 1952, then moved to a farm near Bradshaw, Neb. in 1959.

During this time, Melvin served as a 4-H leader, as a volunteer with the Bradshaw Fire Department and on various boards at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in York. He also was a school bus driver for the Bradshaw Public Schools, but this fact was unappreciated by Melvin’s own children who “had” to ride on their father’s school bus.

During the years 1966 to 1968, a group of farmers from the Bradshaw area, including the Klutes, the Sporhases, the Brackhans, the Mosses and the Ockens, began a migration to the Holyoke area to take advantage of lower land prices and to pioneer irrigated farming on the flat plains of eastern Colorado. Melvin and Betty moved their family to Holyoke in 1968.

Melvin and Betty purchased 160 acres of dryland crop ground, dug an irrigation well and began a diversified farming operation which lasted for the next 28 years before Melvin retired in 1996. However, one can never really “retire” from farming, as Melvin continued to assist area farmers with planting, fertilizing and harvest.

Harvest was always one of Melvin’s most cherished times, as he knew that was when the true blessings of being a farmer were realized. Many a weekend or Thanksgiving were cut short because Melvin had to return to the harvest.

Melvin also enjoyed his employment as a bean inspector and as a sales and parts associate for Woody’s Pivot Service.

During his years in Holyoke, Melvin served Zion Lutheran Church on many different boards and as an elder. Melvin was president of the district Great Western Sugar beet board, and Melvin and Betty represented the district at several national conventions.

Melvin served as an officer of the Holyoke Lion’s Club, and will be significantly remembered as one of the original organizers and sustaining supporters of Relay for Life in Holyoke for the American Cancer Society. Due to their efforts, Melvin and Betty were recognized as Holyoke Citizens of the Year.

One of Melvin’s favorite pastimes was playing cards. Melvin enjoyed his friendships and many games of hearts and cribbage played at Club 25 in Holyoke. He also taught many of his grandchildren how to deal, how to bid and how to play.

Melvin’s grandchildren were the joy of his life. Melvin delighted in taking his grandkids for rides on the tractor or combine, and also on his three-wheelers. Melvin enjoyed special times pulling all the grandchildren on sleds in the snow, but especially his Texas grandchildren because he knew those grandchildren did not get to experience snow very often. In his later years, Melvin took special pride in the great-grandchildren who would sit on his lap.

Melvin was preceded in death by his parents, Martin and Alvina Ocken.

Melvin is survived by his wife, Betty, the love of his life for the past 60 years; twin brother, Mervin Ocken and wife Donna of Waco, Neb.; four children, Deb Austin and husband Dan of Windsor, Jim Ocken and wife Vicki of Castle Rock, Cindy Burton and husband Tony of Longmont and Steve Ocken of Littleton; 11 grandchildren, Curtis Finch and wife Clar, Misty Davis and husband Chris, Jordan Austin and wife Diana, Tony Beckman, Charlie Beckman and wife Jacque, Lindsey Garey and husband Jason, Jessica Wimberly and husband Jon, Ashley Ocken, Lukas Burton, Preston Ocken and Dominique Ocken; 10 great-grandchildren, Jennifer Stevens and husband Rob, Jhett Beckman, Maverick Beckman, Seth Austin, Lily Garey, Titus Beckman, Jack Davis, Tucker Austin, Nora Garey and Max Davis; two great-great-grandchildren, Samantha and Olivia Stevens; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Jan and Jim Uffleman; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

The funeral service was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 10:30 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Holyoke, with Pastor Gary Rahe officiating. Interment was set to follow at the Holyoke Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be sent to: Lutheran Hour, 660 Mason Ridge Center, St. Louis, MO 63141, or Melissa Memorial Hospital Foundation, 1001 E. Johnson St., Holyoke, CO 80734.

Gerk Funeral Homes was entrusted with the arrangements.