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Loren M. Greiner 1908 – 2016

Apr 5, 2016

Funeral service for Loren M. Greiner of Emmetsburg will be held Friday, April 8, at 11 a.m. at the Martin-Mattice Funeral Home in Emmetsburg. The Rev. Louie Q. Gallo will officiate.

Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Emmetsburg. Military rites will be conducted by members of V.F.W. Post #2295.

The Martin-Mattice Funeral Home in Emmetsburg is in charge of arrangements.

Loren M. Greiner was the oldest of six children of Charles Greiner and Effie F. (Doolittle) Greiner, of Hamilton County, Iowa. He was born on March 9, 1908, on a farmstead near Woolstock.

Greiner enjoyed a long and illustrious life as an adventurous, curious scholar of mechanics, electricity, and nature. Between 1911 and 1917, the family lived near Lakefield, MN, and when they returned, it was said, all their belongings were shipped in a railroad boxcar. It was near Lakefield that Greiner said he experienced a wild ride in a wagon, behind four horses, as he, his father, and the horses, were pelted with a heavy hailstorm.

After the return to Hamilton County, the family settled on a farm south of Blairsburg, just south of what is now Highway 20. Loren attended school in Blairsburg, and graduated from high school in 1926. He was one of the first in the county to own a radio receiver; a crystal radio set he built from an oatmeal can and wire from a design he found in the Boy Scout handbook.

After high school, he attended Webster City Junior College, and studied teaching during a summer at Iowa State College in Ames. After this introduction to higher education he taught eight grades in a rural one-room school. After a year of teaching he returned to Iowa State to complete his Bachelor’s Degree, and a Master’s Degree in 1936, with a major in Soil Bacteriology. He was always proud of his Master’s Degree thesis on The Effects of Drilling Small Amounts of Fine Limestone with Legume Seed on Acid Soils.

While at Iowa State, he lived in what is now known as Gilman hall. He earned his way through college by caring for the laboratory rats.

During this time, he was deeply moved by reports of the Dust Bowl; a devastating period of severe dust storms that destroyed much of the ecology of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Western Nebraska. He was fortunate to become a planner and supervisor of soil survey and research efforts in western Nebraska, on the north edge of the dust bowl. Loren became a soil surveyor for the U. S. Soil Conservation Service, where for 32 years he surveyed farmland in Nebraska and Iowa as part of the national effort to map farmland in the entire country.

Loren served in the U. S. Army during World War II, and was in the sixth wave of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. He continued to serve as a radio-operator on the front lines through France, and into Germany where his unit was among the first to liberate a concentration camp at Ohrdruf. The experience deeply affected him and in later years he wrote many essays about the experience, so that younger generations might understand why the U. S. fought the war and why our nation’s involvement was so important. He received five bronze stars for his valorous service. He was Iowa’s oldest veteran.

Loren met Alice Sweet, a chemistry teacher, in Webster City. Their marriage took place in Madison, NE (1942) because Alice’s teaching contract forbade her from marrying. After WWII, the Greiners settled in Nebraska, with daughter Juanita born in Wahoo, in 1946; and Keith born in Lincoln, in 1948. Living in Pawnee City, NE, Greiner worked for the Soil Conservation Service a USDA agency. He was instrumental in the discovery of a water supply for the community after a drought eliminated the source of water. He named the streets of the community of 1,600, invented a tool for taking soil samples, and built a remarkable Nebraska State Fair display showing the effects of soil erosion and the benefits of soil conservation.

The family moved to Emmetsburg in 1960. Greiner retired from the Soil Conservation Service in 1968. After retirement, he served as the Palo Alto County Sanitarian for about ten years, where he oversaw the approval of water supply wells and septic systems. He was a pioneer member of the Emmetsburg Senior Center and advocated for issues affecting senior citizens. He volunteered for Northwest Iowa Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) for over 20 years. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge for at least 60 years. He was an amateur radio operator, photographer, and enjoyed making precision weights.

Loren Greiner passed away Saturday, April 2, 2016, at age 108.

Loren is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, Lyman, Glenn and Esley, and sister Ruby, wife Alice, and daughter Juanita.

He is survived by a sister, Hester, and a sister-in-law Eleanor. He is also survived by son Keith (Loretta), grandsons Aaron (Sarah), Brendan (Rachel), and Roxanna and Cyrus Raafat, and son-in-law Naser Raafat. Three great grand children, Ryan, Kathryn, and Alice also survive as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

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