George Oetjen, 1916-2018

Published 1:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2018

George Edward Oetjen, 101, of Albert Lea died Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community.

George was born in Blue Island, Illinois, to Lillie (Sickman) and George H. Oetjen on Oct. 6, 1916. He graduated from Blue Island High School in 1934 and from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, in 1941. He was an avid tennis player and lettered in the sport in both high school and college.

George Oetjen

Following graduation, he began employment with Sears Roebuck, then entered the Army in January 1943 where he was stationed at Fort Warren in Wyoming for basic training.

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On Aug. 3, 1943 he and Winifred George were united in marriage at Herrick Chapel at Grinnell College in Grinnell. Following their marriage, George entered Officer Candidate School in Louisiana, graduating with the commission of second lieutenant in the Army Transportation Corps. He was stationed at the New Orleans Port of Embarkation as a port officer. He and Winifred resided in New Orleans until 1946 when his active military duty was complete, and he held the rank of captain. In 1948 he became a member of the 419th Military Government Unit, headquartered in Winona. He remained active in this Army reserve unit until 1990, when he retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

George was employed by Sears Roebuck Co. for 23 years, assisting in the opening of the Albert Lea store and continuing as its assistant manager until 1965, when he took early retirement to become a real estate broker. He was associated with Countrywide Real Estate and NOW Real Estate.

He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Albert Lea, where he served as a deacon, elder and trustee. He was also a member of Golden K Kiwanis Club. George was an accomplished woodworker, crafting beautiful cedar chests for his daughters and daughters-in-law. His love of nature and gardening was something he passed on to several of his children and he was always busy planting and maintaining trees, shrubs and flowers. Until recent years he had a faithful friend in his dog. He was an avid reader and a volunteer in a number of community endeavors.

George was preceded in death by his wife, Winifred; his parents; sister, Loretta Oetjen; and son, Dr. Brian Oetjen.

He is survived by his daughters Christine Oetjen of Johnson City, Tennessee, Penny Herickhoff of Mankato and Rebecca Keenan of Fridley; son, Eric Oetjen, of Washington, D.C.; daughters-in-law Dr. Kathryn Oetjen of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, and Chhaya Rao of Washington, D.C.; son-in-law, Dr. Patrick Keenan, of Fridley; and grandchildren John (Julie) Herickhoff of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Dr. Paul (Julianna) Herickhoff of State College Pennsylvania, Dr. Carl Herickhoff of Redwood City, California, Dr. Karolyn Oetjen (Brian Bartok) of Bethesda Maryland, Thomas (Erin) Oetjen of St. Cloud, Wisconsin, Dr. Andrew (Sierra) Keenan of Duluth, Dr. Joseph (Dr. Anne) Keenan of St. Paul and Dr. Peter (Sara) Keenan of Woodruff, Wisconsin. Surviving great-grandchildren are Anna and Ben Herickhoff, Olivia Oetjen, Paige and Max Herickhoff, and Conall, Charles and Rosemary Keenan.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the ecumenical food pantry at First Presbyterian Church of Albert Lea.

Memorial service details are pending with Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home. Online condolences are welcome at