Eldon Heidlebaugh

Aug, 9, 1932-Nov. 17, 2020

Eldon Neil

Heidlebaugh, 88, of Rug-

by, passed into the loving

arms of his Savior on

Tuesday, November 17,

2020, at Good Samaritan


Eldon was born on Au-

gust 9, 1932, the third

child and only son of

Clair and Gladys

Heidlebaugh. His father

farmed northeast of Rugby

before purchasing the

family farm 1.5 miles

south of Rugby in the late

1930’s. Eldon first attend-

ed a one room school-

house, and later attended

Rugby schools where he

graduated in 1950.

He married Sylvia

LaVerne Irwin on De-

cember 4, 1954, and they

lived in a small apartment

on Main Street. Soon El-

don and Sylvia moved

onto a farmstead west of

Rugby, where they farmed

and started their family.

Eldon and Sylvia have

three children, Dara, Nan-

cy, and Michael. In 1972

the family moved to the

farmstead south of Rugby,

and the property is

currently owned and

operated by son, Michael.

Eventually, Eldon and

Sylvia moved to a house

in Rugby, while Michael’s

family remains on the

current farmstead. Eldon

and Michael farmed to-

gether for many years; El-

don only recently stopped

acting as Michael’s #1


Several words can be

used to describe Eldon:

foundation, family, faith,

farming, fellowship and


Foundation: Eldon’s

roots went very deep, and

all who knew him under-

stood his abiding loyalty

to his family, his com-

munity, and the land he


Family: Deep family

roots were something El-

don knew and treasured.

He loved his family well.

He told stories that were

frequently enjoyed and re-

peated, laying that firm

family foundation. He was

his family’s biggest fan at

innumerable concerts,

plays, 4-H and sporting


Faith: Eldon’s faith was

quiet, private, and a

source of inner strength.

That faith made him a

rock to his immediate

family, and to numerous

extended family members.

During times of extraordi-nary trial, Eldon was the

“go to.” If Eldon was

there, everyone was going

to be OK.

Farming: Eldon’s voca-

tion was not just his job –

it was his way of life. He

fully immersed himself in

working the land, and he

was part of it. This con-

nection to farm life passed

naturally to his children

and grandchildren, and is

part of his legacy they will

always cherish. Eldon was

a man of action and hard

work. He loved the rou-

tine of farm life, with its’

seasons and traditions. He

found satisfaction in

maintaining, and was

handy at fixing and inno-


Fellowship: Eldon loved

making new acquain-

tances, particularly in

areas of shared interest. A

conversation with him

was fun, lively and his

enthusiasm was memor-

able! He enjoyed and told

many little tricks and

jokes with his children

and grandchildren, many

of which are being repeat-ed for the next generation.

Eldon and Sylvia would

often go out of their way

to support a friend, and

just “be there” for the peo-

ple they love.

Eldon was a valued and

contributing member of

the Rugby community,

and served as a rural mail

carrier, drove school bus,

and drove a milk truck

route to area dairy farms.

He served on several

boards, including Farmers

Union Oil Company of

Rugby, Merchants Bank

Board of Directors

(1988-2013) and the board

of the Pierce County Crop

Improvement Association.

Fun: Eldon had a great

capacity for finding fun

and, though he worked

many long hours, there

was always time for fun.

Often, he would find fun

in the work being done, or

he would pause to appre-

ciate a small detail. Hard

work, once accomplished,

was always celebrated,

often with ice cream or

root beer floats. Family

holidays included lots of

predictable shenanigans

from Eldon, plus he was

the chief, self-appointed

taste tester before the

holiday meal for all things

turkey, dressing and

pumpkin pie.

Many of his earliest

passions and hobbies be-

came sources of lifelong

enjoyment. He loved

sports, especially playing

basketball. He was an avid

fan of football and basket-ball, kept up with the

pros, and was an ardent

fan of his grandkids’ ath-

letic teams. He was an

avid hunter and fisher-

man and, in his younger

years, hunted and fished

with uncles and cousins.

Later in life, deer hunting

with Michael was a spe-

cial tradition. During

long, quiet winter days,

Eldon might be found

tinkering on his snow

plane, or building a new

model airplane to fly in

the spring. Eldon was an

excellent wood-worker,

and used his skill to keep

the farm functioning well.

He made gifts for his fami-

ly that they treasure as

work from his hands. El-

don and Sylvia’s family

enjoyed many camping

trips in the old pop-up

camper, along with a cir-

cle of family friends. In

later years, he and Sylvia

travelled south with their

fifth wheel camper, and

particularly enjoyed the

desert southwest.

Eldon is preceded in

death by his parents Clair

and Gladys (Blessum)

Heidlebaugh, and sisters

Adele Hager and Elaine

Sornsin. He is survived by

his wife Sylvia, his sister

Judy (Wayne) Jelsing,

daughters Dara (Allan)

Mann of Minneapolis and

Nancy (Dave) Solem of

Bismarck, and son Micha-

el (DeAnna) of Rugby.

Nine grandchildren:

Stephanie (Chad) King,

David (Jaclyn) Mann, Tho-

mas Mann, Cassie Delzer,

Lindsey Delzer, Bradley,

Shea, Kate and Mykell

Heidlebaugh. Seven

Great-grandchildren: El-

don (“little Eldon”) Mann,

Reuben King, Aurora

Ding, Ulric Mann, Boaz

King, Capelle Mann, and

Rogue Mann. To his

numerous nieces and

nephews he is fondly

“Uncle Eldon.”

Funeral services will be

held at 10:30 a.m. on Sa-

turday, November 28 at

First Lutheran Church in

Rugby with burial in the

Persilla Watts Cemetery,

Rugby. Pastor Sharon

Baker, officiating.

Due to Covid-19 restric-tions please follow the

guidelines of facial cover-

ings, social distancing,

hand hygiene and staying

at home if not well. Seat-

ing will be limited and


Visitation will be held

from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

with a family service be-

ginning at 6:30 p.m. at the

Anderson Funeral Home

in Rugby.

Arrangements with the

Anderson Funeral Home

of Rugby. Online registry: