George A. Pfister, 1936

GEORGE A. PFISTER of Decorah, Iowa, died March 2, 2012, at age 97, at the Aase Haugen Home.

Services were held at Fjelstul Funeral Home on March 26, 2012.

Survivors include his children, KAROLINE PFISTER '67 of Waukegan, Ill.; Philip (Jeanine) of Marion, Iowa; JANET (PFISTER) HALL '71 (Gerald) of West Des Moines, Iowa; Lynne (Dean) Lamp of Glidden, Iowa; a sister Luella Young of Decorah; a brother GORDON PFISTER '49 (Barbara) of Hot Springs Village, Ark.; and six grandchildren: Adam (Sarah) and Paul Pfister, Elizabeth and Katherine Hall, and Erik and Daniel Lamp; as well as many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Anna, on Sept. 22, 2008, his parents, Alwin and Caroline Pfister, a sister Elsie Osmundson, and three brothers: Walter, Lester, and Norman.

George Alwin Pfister was born Feb. 22, 1915, to Alwin and Caroline (Burmeister) Pfister of Locust, Iowa, on the family farm established Oct. 15, 1855. He grew up on the Pfister Farm and attended Locust School. George was baptized March 21, 1915, and confirmed December 2, 1928, at St. John's Lutheran Church, Locust, where he was a member throughout his life. A 1932 graduate of Decorah H.S., George graduated from Luther College in 1936 with a B.A. in mathematics, physics, education, and music. After touring Europe with the 1936 Luther College Band, he taught high school math, physics, biology, general science, and vocal and instrumental music in Fessenden, N.D., and in Alton, Atlantic, and Clermont (Iowa) schools.

In 1941, he entered the U.S. Army where he served as squad leader assigned to Co. F 43rd Engineering Regiment. During the war, he served in The Philippines, Australia, and New Guinea where he was a leader of men and was placed in detached service, having shown the leadership qualities needed for special tasks. After receiving his commission in 1943, Lt. Pfister was assigned as an instructor in the Transportation Corp at the Officer's School in Australia. While teaching there, he wrote and taught a remedial math course which was later used by the U.S. Coast Guard. When he returned to the States in 1945, he set up an office for General MacArthur's headquarters in Calif.

During his tour of duty, 1st Lt. George Pfister met 2nd Lt. Anna Cunningham, R.N., whom he married June 14, 1944, in Brisbane, Australia. After they were honorably discharged from the Army in 1945, they settled on the Pfister family farm north of Locust. He served as St. John's Choir Director and on the Church Board. George served on the County Election Board, the Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Winneshiek Co. Board of Education (1948-1959), and the Decorah Board of Education (1960-1973). One of his great pleasures was in awarding all four of his children their high school diplomas. George enjoyed singing with the Luren Singers and attended several Sangerfests. He was a member of the Iowa Historical Society, where he was active in adding the Locust School to the State Registry.

After retiring from farming in 1973, George was recruited to establish the Nutrition Program for Seniors in an eight-county area, serving as the director from 1974-1976. He was named Director of the Area Agency on Aging (now Northland) from 1975-1981. He served for ten years as Decorah City Forester. George was a member and officer of the Winneshiek Co. Genealogy Society; Decorah Area Chapter of the AARP; the Senior Citizens Hospitality Center; and of the Winneshiek Co. Historical Society, giving school children tours of the Locust School and sharing his memories of childhood in an earlier era. One of George's great joys was woodworking, completing scroll saw projects well into his 90s.

George felt strongly that it was important to give back to the community, and his life surely reflects this. He received many letters of commendation from the many agencies and organizations with which he worked, including a Special Citation for Outstanding Service to the Community from the AARP in 1993. In 1986 he received the State of Iowa Governor's Volunteer Award from then Gov. Terry Branstad, and in 1994 a Partners in Aging Award, again from Gov. Branstad.

Many people have told George that he has been an inspiration; but for his children he was not only an inspiration, he taught us the love, work ethics, and values that have defined us and guided us in our lives.

Memorials may be made to the Locust School c/o Winneshiek Co. Historical Society, Winneshiek Co. Historical Society, St. John's Lutheran Church, Disabled American Veterans, or sent c/o Fjelstul Funeral Home, 306 E. Water St., Decorah, IA 52101. Online condolences may be made at