Bart Alden Coutermarsh, age 94, passed away on Monday, October 24, 2022 at the Leonardville Nursing Home where he had resided since 2020. He was the youngest child born to Bart Edward Coutermarsh and Nellie Goodin Coutermarsh on March 18, 1928. Bart was born on the farm homesteaded by his grandparents in 1881. Life on the farm suited Bart just fine, and he continued to live in the house in which he was born until mid 2017 when, for health reasons, he moved to Leonardville.
Bart drove himself and his sister, LaFern, to Olive Hill School in a buggy. He completed his high school education at Leonardville Rural High School, graduating in 1946. A young woman named Norma Berggren was a classmate, and she became Bart’s bride on September 16, 1950. They celebrated 71 years of marriage! Two daughters, Connie and Sonja were born to Bart and Norma. Norma passed away on January 27, 2022.
Taking care of animals (especially cows and horses) and caring for the land were highlights of Bart’s life. Bart and his brother, Laurence, formed the Coutermarsh Bros. partnership and farmed the homestead and other ground. They also ran a successful cow/calf operation. After Laurence’s retirement, Bart continued farming as long as he could well into his late eighties. He was the recipient of the Riley County Banker’s Soil Conservation Award in 1989 and the Grasslands Award offered by the Riley County Conservation District in 2001. All enjoyed the abundance of his garden… the sweet corn, the potatoes, the tomatoes and cucumbers. Sometimes those veggies mysteriously found their way into your unlocked car after church! Roast beef and steak dinners were a staple at the farmhouse. Bart and Norma were known as expert homemade ice cream makers. Those well tended milk cows did their part first!
Due to some drought years, Bart sought additional employment off the farm to supplement his income. He worked for Bill Bond Construction and the Gene Williams Construction Company off and on starting in the late 50’s. A new trade was learned….he laid tile at the soldier barracks at Fort Riley and at Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka. Always a promoter of the arts, Bart took an active role in pouring the footings for the McCain Auditorium on the KSU campus.
During his formative years, Bart attended and was confirmed in faith at the Leonardville United Brethren Church. He became a member of the Walsburg Lutheran Church upon his marriage to Norma. He served many terms on the church board; was a greeter/usher and always ready to help to keep the church grounds looking tidy. Bart and Norma cheerfully acted as chauffeur drivers to make sure many elderly were able to attend church services.
Community involvement was part of Bart’s life. He was a volunteer firefighter and served on the board of the Leonardville Nursing Home, the Leonardville State Bank, and was an officer in the Kansas Livestock Association.
Bart was a charter member of the Riley County Young Farmers Association. He was eager to learn new farming techniques and especially enjoyed fellowship with many farmer friends.
Family was ever so important in Bart’s life. Daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren knew that he loved them. He led those horses around the farm when they were loaded with as many young cousins as possible. Fishing escapades, garden planting and harvesting, rounding up cattle, a few first driving lessons on a country road, are memories held by those loved ones. Bart loved to tease and laugh and was a faithful friend. He will be missed by his family and anyone fortunate enough to know him.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Norma, brother Laurence and three sisters, Emma Bohnenblust, Una Weller and LaFern Mays.
Bart is survived by two daughters, Connie Baer and husband Robert of Topeka and Sonja Hurty and husband Jon of Moline, Illinois; four grandchildren, Aaron Baer, Matt Baer and wife Ellen Backus, Kjerstin Kwasigroch and husband Daniel and Jens Hurty, two great grandchildren, Beatrice Backus Baer and Alden Joel Kwasigroch; three sisters-in-law, Lylas Schultz, Jackie Berggren and Bonnie Berggren and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
The family will receive friends from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on November 4, 2022 at the Anderes-Pfeifley Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on November 5, 2022 at the Walsburg Lutheran Church with Rev. Kaylie Ines officiating. Burial will be in the Walsburg Cemetery.
Memorials have been established for the Walsburg Lutheran Church and Leonardville Nursing Home. Contributions may be left in care of the Anderes-Pfeifley Funeral Home.