Cover photo for James Merlyn Molgaard's Obituary
James Merlyn Molgaard Profile Photo

James Merlyn Molgaard

d. March 9, 2022

April 29, 1925 ~ March 9, 2022


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

3:00 to 7:00 PM

Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home, Inc.

Harlan, IA

(get directions)

Family will greet friends from 5:00 to 7:00 PM at the Funeral Home


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

1:00 PM

Elk Horn Lutheran Cemetery

Elk Horn, IA


2 Daughters – Judy Martin of San Diego, CA

Jeanine (Ellic) Vaden of Lakewood, CA

Special Friend – Mary Edelman of Gayville, SD

Family Friend – Gina Grossi of Alameda, CA

6 Grandchildren

12 Great-grandchildren

Other Relatives & Friends

James Merlyn Molgaard, the youngest of nine children, was born to James and Elsie Marie (Nielsen) Molgaard on April 29, 1925, in rural Kimballton, Iowa. Known to family and friends as “Merlyn”, he attended country school, and then worked as a farmhand. On September 22, 1943, Merlyn entered the United States Army; he received his Honorable Discharge on October 24, 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters for his service.

On October 11, 1946, Merlyn married Norma Virginia Petersen in Audubon, Iowa. The couple farmed south of Elk Horn, Iowa, and became the parents of three children. Following a move into Elk Horn, Merlyn worked as a meat cutter at the local locker. He was later employed as a lineman for the Marne Elk Horn Telephone Company, a position he held for 26 years before retiring to care for Norma.

Merlyn was a member of the Elk Horn Lutheran Church in Elk Horn. He and Norma loved to dance and play cards. Merlyn enjoyed woodworking and often shared his handcrafted creations as gifts to family and friends. He liked to spend time visiting friends and speaking Danish, and had an amazing memory for local history.

Merlyn Molgaard died on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He had reached the age of 96 years, 10 months, and 9 days.

Preceding Merlyn in death were his parents; his wife, Norma Virginia Molgaard, on February 6, 2002; one son, Jim Molgaard; two brothers; and six sisters. He is lovingly survived by two daughters, Judy Martin of San Diego, California, and Jeanine (Ellic) Vaden of Lakewood, California; his special friend, Mary Edelman of Gayville, South Dakota; a family friend, Gina Grossi of Alameda, California; six grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends.

The graveside service and burial was held on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at the Elk Horn Lutheran Cemetery, Elk Horn, Iowa. Pastor Keith Menter of the Elk Horn Lutheran Church conducted the service, and Merlyn’s loving family and friends served as the casket bearers. The Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home, Inc., Harlan, Iowa, was in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be left online at
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