Norbert Butikofer

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Norbert Butikofer
June 30, 1939 to February 2, 2019

Norbert Lee Butikofer was born on June 30, 1939, to Walter and Lydia (Dennler) Butikofer on a farm west of Elkader, Iowa. He was baptized in Christ and later confirmed his faith at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Elgin.

Norbert attended country school until 8th grade and then Central High School in Elkader where he was involved in track and FFA. He was also a member of Worthwhile 4-H Club. In 1957, he graduated from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He stayed in the States for basic training and then was sent to Italy where he worked as a telephone installer/repairman. By the end of his time in the Army, Norbert had achieved the rank of Specialist-4th Class.

Norbert returned home in 1960 and worked as a hired man on the farms of J.C. Costigan and his brother-in-law, Harlan Backhaus, for about a year. It was at this time he acquired a job working as a part-time flexible clerk for the Elkader Post Office. During this time, he also held various part-time jobs at the Elkader Co-op, Coast to Coast store, and the Elkader Movie Theater.  

In 1963, Norbert met Janet Zittergruen and on October 16, 1965, they were united in marriage at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Elkport, Iowa. Shortly after, Norbert took instruction and became a member of the Lutheran Church. This began a life-long active membership first at Immanuel Lutheran until it closed, and then at Hope Lutheran in Littleport, serving on council, ushering and helping out where needed in these congregations.

Norbert and Janet first made their home in Elkader where Norbert continued to work part-time at the Post Office. He also joined his brother Bill, in a service station business, N & B Sinclair. On November 20, 1967, they were blessed with the birth of a daughter, Lori Ann.

In 1972, Norbert and Janet purchased his aunt and uncle’s farm, west of Elkader. At that time, Norbert began milking cows and farmed the land while still working as a postal clerk. He worked hard, but also found time for recreation, church, and Lori’s school activities. He was a member of the “Whistlin’ Bit Saddle Club” and enjoyed riding his horse “Patches” on Sunday trail rides and parades. He looked forward on weekends to fishing with his father-in-law, Hiram, on the Mississippi River.

In 1984, because of a back injury, Norbert sold the cows, but continued to work for the Post Office. On November 30, 1998, he was recognized for 40 years of service, and the mayor proclaimed it “Norbert Butikofer Day.” He later retired in 2000.

Over the years, some of Norbert’s favorite pastimes were playing cards, gardening, woodworking and cooking. He especially loved raising roses and sharing them with family and friends. He worked part-time showing movies at the Elkader Theater. His greatest joy, however, was the time he spent with his family, especially his three grandsons, attending their school and college events and mentoring them on their 4-H projects.  

Norbert died peacefully at the Elkader Care Center on Saturday, February 2, 2019. He is survived by his wife, Janet; his daughter, Lori (Bradley) Phillips and three grandsons, Lukas, Trevor and Jarod Phillips of Decorah; one brother, Melbert (Jean) Butikofer of St. Olaf; sister-in-law, Mary (Jim) Keehner, of McGregor; brother-in-law, Harlan Backhaus of Garnavillo; nieces, nephews and numerous friends.

Norbert was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Zita Backhaus, and brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Marcia Butikofer.

A visitation was held from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 5, at Hope Lutheran Church, Littleport, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 6, also at the church. Funeral services with military honors were Wednesday, Februrary 6, at 11 a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church with Rev. Margaret Yackel-Juleen officiating.

Leonard-Grau Funeral Home & Cremation Service assisted the family. Online condolences may be left with

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