Cover photo for Elsie Elizabeth Phifer's Obituary
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Elsie Elizabeth Phifer

d. December 23, 2019

February 22, 1935 ~ December 23, 2019


Friday, December 27, 2019

3:00-8:00 PM

Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home

Harlan, IA

(get directions)

The family will greet friends from 5:00-7:00 PM at the Funeral Home

A Prayer Service will be held at 7:00 PM


Saturday, December 28, 2019

10:00 AM

Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Jacksonville, IA

(get directions)

Burial will be in the Harlan Cemetery, Harlan, IA


5 Sons – Daniel (Deb) Phifer of Fremont, NE

David (Valerie) Phifer of Mannford, OK

Fred Phifer of Harlan, IA

Jeff Phifer of Lincoln, NE

Michael Phifer of Council Bluffs, IA

2 Daughters – Alice (Scott) Hemmingsen of Audubon, IA

Hyla Ann (Robert) Barnett of Aurora, CO

1 Sister – Gladys Ventris of Beemer, NE

16 Grandchildren

22 Great-grandchildren

Other Relatives & Friends

Elsie Elizabeth Phifer, the daughter of Herman Herbert and Sophia Maria Helena (Suhr) Abrahams, was born on February 22, 1935, in Utica, Nebraska. She was raised in the Utica, Seward, and Fremont, Nebraska, areas, where she farmed with her father and babysat. Following her graduation from the eighth grade, Elsie became a fulltime nanny. She later began working at the Robinson Seed Corn Company in Waterloo, Nebraska. It was there Elsie met Charles Edward Phifer, Jr., and they married on March 24, 1956, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Blair, Nebraska.

Elsie and Charles moved to Parks Air Force Base in Dublin, California, where she nannied, ironed uniforms, and baked bread for servicemen and their families. They moved to Fremont, and Elsie worked at Head Start as an Aide and Parent Coordinator. She became a stay-at-home mother and daycare provider. In 1995, the couple moved to Harlan, Iowa, and Elsie was employed by West Central Community Action, DHS, and the Senior Center until her retirement in 2016.

Elsie was a lifelong Lutheran. A longtime daycare and Foster Care provider, she loved caring for others. Elsie was involved with the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), was co-founder of the Pilot Parent Program, and was a PTA member. She enjoyed gardening, and had beautiful flower beds. Elsie also liked to can and bake, and often shared baked goods with many in her neighborhood.

Elsie E. Phifer died on Monday, December 23, 2019, at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa. She had reached the age of 84 years, 10 months, and 1 day.

Elsie was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Charles Edward Phifer, Jr., on April 16, 2002; and one brother, Norman Abrahams. She is survived by five sons, Daniel (Deb) Phifer of Fremont, Nebraska, David (Valerie) Phifer of Mannford, Oklahoma, Fred Phifer of Harlan, Iowa; Jeff Phifer of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Michael Phifer of Council Bluffs, Iowa; two daughters, Alice (Scott) Hemmingsen of Audubon, Iowa, and Hyla Ann (Robert) Barnett of Aurora, Colorado; one sister, Gladys Ventris of Beemer, Nebraska; 16 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends

The funeral service was held on Saturday, December 28, 2019, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Iowa, with Pastor Keith Menter of Elk Horn Lutheran Church, Elk Horn, Iowa, officiating. Peggy Doonan and Pastor Menter were the service musicians. Elsie’s loving family served as casket bearers. Burial was in the Harlan Cemetery, Harlan, Iowa. The Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home in Harlan, Iowa, was in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be left online at
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Elsie Elizabeth Phifer, please visit our flower store.


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