Harold R. McMillin

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Harold Robert McMillin, Jr., 78, of Guttenberg, son of Harold Sr. and Marie (Carlson) McMillin was born March 28, 1945, in McGregor. Harold passed away unexpectedly on March 2, 2024. He faced many health challenges in his life and fought each one with resilience and courage.


Harold grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from Garnavillo High School in 1963, where he was active in both 4-H and FFA, showing cattle at many local fairs. He enjoyed participating in basketball and wrestling when he could. After high school, Harold graduated from Wartburg College in Waverly and Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque.


On Aug. 26, 1966, Harold married Eunice (Muller) McMillin in Parkersburg. They had three children, Bradley, Denise and Tim. Later, on June 30, 1991, Harold married Linda (Steele) McMillin at Elgin Lutheran Church, and they shared their lives in the Elgin and Guttenberg areas.


Harold was called to ministry in the Lutheran church. He attained the master of divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 1973. Harold was ordained into ministry on June 10, 1973, at Norway Lutheran Church in St. Olaf. A lifelong pastor and community leader, he served many congregations, including as intern at St. Luke’s (Greendale, Wis.), student pastor at Immanuel (Elkport) and Hope (Littleport) and pastor at St. John’s Crane Creek (Tripoli), First Lutheran (Dows) and Vernon Lutheran (Williams), Emmanuel Lutheran (Fontanelle), Elgin and Highland Lutheran (Elgin and Elkader) and St. John’s Lutheran (Guttenberg), and was instrumental in establishing Clayton Valley Lutheran Parish (four congregations including those in Guttenberg, Elkport and Littleport). Following his first “retirement” in 2011, he continued to serve parishes including St. John Lutheran in Luana and St. John Lutheran in Farmersburg. In 2019, he “retired” for a second time until resuming his ministry in 2022 by serving various parishes as a supply pastor and then accepting a call on Dec. 1, 2022, to serve as interim pastor for St. Peter of Garnavillo and Peace Church in Clayton.


Because of his dedicated leadership in the church and community, he received many awards and recognitions, including the Governor’s Leadership Award (1984), for which he was asked to give the invocation at a state betterment event where he met Gov. Ray and then Vice President George H. W. Bush. For 12 years, he was honored to serve the community as chaplain for the Guttenberg Fire Department. Over his career, he cherished opportunities to travel with members of the ELCA to Israel and Hungary. Pastor Harold had a unique way of making the scripture come to life, connecting with youth and the community and challenging people with the word of the gospel. He will be remembered by those he served as an exceptional listener and an innovator with fresh, bold and engaging ideas. His eternally positive outlook and hope to be part of creating a better future was infectious. Pastor Harold recently celebrated 50 years as an ordained minister and continued to serve in the capacity of pastor, tending the spark the Spirit lit in generations of believers, until the day he passed.


Beyond work, Harold loved gardening, woodworking (often making unique gifts for confirmands and graduates), fishing, camping, hunting and playing cards and board games with his many friends and family members. He was excited to be involved in his grandchildren’s activities, often traveling around the U.S. to support them.


Harold was preceded in death by his parents, his parents-in-law Robert and Dorothy Hepler, his son Bradley and his brother Kevin. His spirit, boisterous laugh, joy for life and love for others will continue to live through his family, including his wife, Linda; daughter Denise (Kyle) Shaffer of Ham Lake, Minn., son Tim McMillin (Seth Robb) of Des Moines, stepson Kevin Steele of Guttenberg and stepson Scott Steele of Casey; and grandchildren Zach Shaffer, Nate Shaffer, Kayla Shaffer, Kaleb Steele, Elizabeth Steele and Reid Steele. He is also survived by sister Yvonne Miller of Iowa Falls, sister Janis (John) Casserly of Wentzville, Mo., brother Randy (Mary Ann) McMillin of Elkader, brother-in-law Fred (Amy) Hepler of Edmond, Okla., and many cousins, nieces, nephews and treasured neighbors and friends.


Leonard-Grau Funeral Home in Elkader has been entrusted with the arrangements. A celebration of a remarkable and impactful life will be held with visitation on Friday, March 8, from 4 to 7 p.m., and funeral service on Saturday, March 9, at 10:30 a.m. Both the visitation and funeral will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Guttenberg. A luncheon will be served immediately following the service on Saturday. Pastor Harold will be laid to rest at a private family service at Norway Lutheran Church, St. Olaf.

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