Lois Lorene Gruis
Lois Lorene (Litka) Gruis was born October 4, 1927 to Albert and Pearl (Yale) Litka, in rural Bigelow, MN. She attended country school, and spent her youth learning to play piano and organ and being very active in 4-H. Her family moved to a farm near Sanborn, Iowa in the early 1940’s where she started giving piano lessons at age 15 and continued her many activities in 4-H. She graduated from Sanborn High School in 1945, where she met and later married Leonard Postma. She taught private piano lessons. In 1952, they moved to Pensacola, FL where she was a navy wife and church organist. They returned to Sanborn in 1956, where she gave lessons, and was a church organist until they moved to Sheldon, Iowa. She took hiatus from lessons and organist for about 10 years while she was a housewife and mother to four (adopted) children: James, Barbara, Keith and Karen. She and Leonard divorced in 1970 and she became a pioneer of non-traditional students, attending Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa for music and English education, and Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa for piano, organ and cello. She had the honor of being invited to and participating in the International Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan in 1971.
She supported Barb and Karen by giving piano, organ, and voice lessons and playing for churches, weddings, and funerals upon receiving her music degree she began teaching at a catholic school in Sioux City (K-8). Before long she was dividing her classes among several schools in the Sioux City and LeMars Catholic School Systems (K-12). She also spent a couple days a week teaching in the Sibley-Ocheyden School System. Of course, during this time, she gave her private piano, organ and voice lessons in all 3 towns, giving more than 100 private lessons a week. She began directing handbell choirs in 1983 eventually directing in several churches.
In early 1989, former country schoolmate, Henry Gruis and her re-connected. She retired from teaching school in May of 1989, married Hank on June 24, 1989, and moved to his farm near Worthington, MN. She continued private lessons in Sheldon but added students in the Worthington area as well. Nothing could keep her from teaching until the Covid-19 pandemic arrived. What started as a teaching break in March, 2020 became permanent retirement from giving lessons when she moved to Crossroads Care Center in June, 2020. It was here she passed away on January 21, 2021 at age 93. She was a member of the United Methodist Church of Sheldon where she was an organist for more than 50 years and handbell director. She was active at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church near Rushmore, MN (Hank’s home church) and bell director at First Lutheran Church in Worthington. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star and the National Federation of Music Clubs. Locally, she was a member of the Okabena Women’s Club and Christian Women’s Club.
Lois’ passion was music and her music ministry, but she was also a voracious reader, enjoyed traveling and visiting with family, friends and strangers.
She was preceded to heaven by her parents, grandparents, husband, Henry; sister, June; daughter, Karen; son, Keith and; grandson, Jason.
She is survived by her daughter, Barb Van Otterloo (Sioux Falls, SD); son, James Postma, granddaughters Jennifer Van Otterloo (Sioux Falls, SD); Jean (Jason) Johnson, (Worthington, MN); Jody (Paul) Ryder, (Pittsburgh, PA); great-children, Dalton (Jamie) Johnson, (Lincoln, NE); Skyla Mae Rautenkranz (Fargo, ND); two niece/bonus daughters: Iris Friede, (Shoreview, MN); Donna (Tony) Dwire, (Sioux Falls, SD); many nieces and nephews/bonus grandchildren; cousins and a couple thousand former students (“her kids”) scattered all over the world, continuing her of legacy music.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2021, at 10:30 a.m., at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington, MN, with Pastor Galen Smith officiating. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at the church. Burial will be held at 1:00 p.m. at Roseland Cemetery in Sanborn, IA.
Benson Funeral Home in Worthington is in charge of the arrangements.