Donald Charles Wilfahrt

Donald Charles Wilfahrt

NEW ULM — Donald Charles Wilfahrt, age 96, died peacefully October 8, 2021 surrounded by his family after a brief COVID-19 illness.

A private graveside service will be held in the New Ulm Catholic Cemetery with Father Shawn Polman officiating. The New Ulm Area Comrades of Valor Honor Guard will be providing full military honors at the cemetery.

A celebration of life will be held in the spring of 2022.

To leave an online condolence for his family or to sign the guest book go to www.mvfh.org.

Donald Charles Wilfahrt was born December 23, 1924 in New Ulm to Ernst and Louise (Soukup). He graduated from New Ulm Holy Trinity Catholic high school in New Ulm in 1942.

Don enlisted in the Navy while at St. Thomas College. He was stationed as an apprentice seaman at the University of Minnesota Aeronautical Engineering school where he graduated in 1945. He then attended the University of Notre Dame Midshipman School. He was stationed with the Naval Air Transport Service Squadron in California, Guam and the Philippines. He served in the Navy Reserves until 1959.

He was united in marriage to Florence Pinzka on September 28, 1948, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sleepy Eye. They lived in New Ulm where they raised their six children. The majority of their life they lived on Bianchi Drive where he resided until his hospitalization on September 26, 2021. Don was co-owner of Wilfahrt Bros. Ace Hardware in New Ulm until he retired in 1989. For 40 years he enjoyed selling appliances, TV’s, bikes, snowmobiles, Hondas, toys and tires.

Don was a member of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity where he was a Lecturer for many years, The Wanda Gag House Association, New Ulm Turner Hall, the New Ulm Lions Club, a 4th Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus, New Ulm American Legion 75-year member and a board member for the New Ulm Business Development Association. He enjoyed traveling, fishing trips to Canada, hunting trips to Wyoming, pheasant hunting, and trips to Gull Lake. He was still snowmobiling and riding his Honda scooter well into his eighties. His greatest passion was playing music which started as a young child involved in the school bands playing the saxophone, clarinet and oboe.

Don played in the Holy Trinity High School Band, Orchestra, and also for the 205th Infantry band while in high school. He also played alto sax in the Eddie Wilfahrt Orchestra and the Whoopee John Band. After the 205th Infantry was called to duty he played in the Pioneer Band. He joined the New Ulm Municipal Band in 1946 and was a member for over 75 years. He was one of the original members of the New Ulm German Band which started in 1985. He had several trips to Germany for band performances. His last band appearance was September 19, 2021 at German Park where he was honored for 75 years with the New Ulm Municipal Band.

Don was a terrific father to his six children. He accepted all their friends into his home, never judging. He led bicycle rides, trips for ice cream and snowmobile outings to everyone. He discreetly supervised teenage parties from his chair by the front door.

He is survived by his children Mark Wilfahrt, Nisswa; MayBeth (Ed) Sheridan, Shorewood; Julie (Dan) Soehren, New Ulm; Amy Wilfahrt, Grand Marais, James (Dawn) Wilfahrt, Oshkosh, WI; Craig (Kristy) Wilfahrt, Buffalo; grandchildren Gabriel and Andrea Soehren, Kate (Shane) Cook, Calaf Wilfahrt, Carly and Connor Wilfahrt, and Tim (Meghana) Hemphill; great-grandchildren twins Neel and Arthi Hemphill, and sister Diane (Ken) Miller.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Florence Wilfahrt; parents, in-laws, infant grandson Ryan James Wilfahrt, Eldor & Cal Verna Wilfahrt, Marguerite & Dick Ashton, Bernadette & Al Lais, Joe & Grace Pinzka.

Memorials preferred to Hospice House in Owatonna, Alzheimer’s Association, New Ulm Municipal Band, New Ulm German Band, Turner Hall or New Ulm Area Catholic Schools.