My Story by Janelle Holtz Kuhr




My parents were Herbert Fred Holtz and Clara Mabel (Rock) Holtz.  I was the youngest of their three children. My father, Herbert, passed away in 2005 at the age of 91.  My mother, Clara, passed away in 1980 at the age of 61.   I have an older brother, Richard Lee Holtz of Avoca, Iowa and an older sister, Joyce Ann (Holtz) Kardell of Hancock, Iowa.


Herbert was the third child of eleven children of Fred Jergen Holtz (died 1953) and Emma (Ingwersen) Holtz (died 1963) of Avoca, Iowa.  His sisters and brothers were Ella Holtz Rock (deceased- wife of John Rock), Leona Elsie Holtz Jorgensen (deceased, wife of Robert Jorgensen, Sr.), Alvin Holtz (deceased, husband of Elinore Pond & after they divorced, married Vera Woltmann), Evelyn Holtz Nelsen (still living, wife of Nels Nelsen),  Delno Holtz (still living, husband of Betty Scheel), Raymond Harry Holtz (deceased, husband of Marion Marie Jens), Fred Holtz, Jr. (still living, husband of Arlene Thompsen), Clarence Holtz (still living, husband of Betty Jean Davis), Hazel Emma Holtz Krueger (still living, wife of Orville Henry Krueger), and Francis Marie Holtz Hodge (deceased, wife of Melvin Hodge).


Clara was the youngest child of seven children of Julius Rock (deceased 1941) and Wilhelmina (Heesch) Rock (deceased 1962) of Shelby County, Iowa.  Her brothers and sisters were Louie Rock (deceased, he never married), John Rock (deceased, husband of Ella Rock – my father’s sister), Herbert Rock (deceased, he never married), Elsie R. Rock Juels (deceased, wife of Gus Juels), Olga Christina Rock Krohn (deceased, wife of Rudolph William Krohn), and Leona Rock Peterson (deceased, wife of Jens Peterson).


My grandparents are all buried in the Graceland Cemetery in Avoca, Iowa.   They were all of German descent, with Fred Jergen Holtz being born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.


I grew up on my parents’ farm east of Avoca, Iowa, in Knox Township of Pottawattamie County and attended Knox #8 country school about a half mile west of my parents’  farm.  The school was better known as “Buzzard’s Glory” school to the kids in the area.  I had only one other student in my class, Harry Olsen.  His family lived about a quarter of a mile west of us.  Many days we would all meet and walk to school together, weather permitting, of course.  I remember walking over big snow drifts in the winter, going to school when the road was drifted shut.  Girls didn’t wear pants to school back then and went to school in the winter with flannel-lined jeans, to be removed when we arrived, under their skirts.  We used to build snow caves in the yard at home; the drifts were so big.  Digging in the snow has lost its interest to me at this time of my life.  I can’t wait until the drifts disappear!


I had a couple of teachers in country school, but the one that I really remember was Shirley Pingel.  She was a loveable lady who really took an interest in us all.  We even spent mini-vacations at her house in Avoca, where she lived with her husband, Elmer.  Country school was a lot of fun.  We had picnics across the road in the timber and put on many Christmas programs in the school.




When the country schools were closed down and when I was ready to start 4th grade, everyone went to town school in Avoca, Iowa.  I graduated from AvoHa High School in 1966 and, right after graduation, went to work at The Avoca State Bank in Avoca until June of 1973.


In 1971, I married Richard Lawrence Kuhr (who I met on a blind date).  We then lived in a basement apartment in Avoca.  Previously, in 1968, Richard graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Farm Operation.  In 1973, we moved to the Kuhr family farm south of Walnut, Iowa, where we still live and farm today.


Our first daughter was Traci Kay Kuhr.  At an early age, it was discovered that she was suffering from a brain tumor and went thru surgery and treatment.  After struggling with it for two years, she passed away at the age of 5 years.   Her grave is in our family plot in Graceland Cemetery in Avoca.


Richard and I have one son, Derek Richard Kuhr.  Derek graduated from Walnut High School and went on to Iowa State University where he graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering.   Derek married Amy Diane Branigan. They met while attending college in Ames. She graduated from Iowa State University with a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology.  They now live in Omaha, NE, and he works for Heartland Technology Solutions as their Lead Engineer.  Amy is the Technology Coordinator for the Plattsmouth, Nebraska school system.  They now have a son, Alexander Derek Kuhr, who will soon be five years old.


We have a second daughter, Patricia Kay Kuhr.  She graduated from Walnut Community High School and went on to the University of Northern Iowa and graduated with a Masters Degree in Accounting.  Patti then became a licensed CPA and is now a partner in the accounting firm of Coonley & Heilskov, CPA’s in Hampton, Iowa.  She is married to Brandon Lee Heilskov of Hampton, Iowa.   Brandon was farming with his father and uncle in the Hampton area, but is now employed by the Iowa DOT as a road maintenance worker.  He still helps his father some with the farming in his spare time.  Patti and Brandon are the parents of a son, Caiden Lee Heilskov.  He is 4 ½ years old.    They also have a daughter, Madison Kay Heilskov, who is 2 ½ years old.


Growing up on the farm was a great life and was a wonderful place for Richard and me to raise our family and to bring our grandkids.