Rev. Gene H. Hermeier, age 86 of Decorah, IA, died Sunday morning, June 17, 2018 at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 22, 2018 at First Lutheran Church in Decorah with Rev. Chad Huebner officiating and Rev. Paul Cross and Rev. Elizabeth Hermeier assisting. Burial will be in Lutheran Cemetery in Decorah. Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m. Friday, one hour before the service, at First Lutheran Church.
Gene Harland Hermeier was born on August 20, 1931 to Elmer (Dick) and Amanda (Carlsborg) Hermeier of rural Waukon, IA. He grew up on a dairy farm and was adept at working on tractors and other farm machinery. Gene attended Waukon High School where he was involved in football and baseball, graduating in 1949. In the fall of the same year, he went on to attend Luther College, graduating in 1953 with a History major. While a freshman at Luther, Gene met Ruby Fern Totman and they married on June 7, 1953. Gene and Ruby had four daughters - Paula, Kristi, Nancy and Kari - all born between 1954 and 1961.
During the 1960s, Gene was deeply affected by the Civil Rights Movement. He trained at The Urban Training Institute for Christian Mission and traveled to Chicago to participate in marches and protests, including lying on Lake Shore Drive. As a result, he spent several nights in the Cook County Jail along with other protestors. In 1965, through the American Lutheran Church, Gene and family moved to Council Bluffs, IA where Gene founded a mission congregation that became the first racially integrated Lutheran Church in Iowa, Shepherd of the Valley.