Kurt H. Niedringhaus; Husband, Father, Grandfather, and Great-Grandfather was born on a farm on April 27, 1919 in Huchzen, Germany, a small hamlet near Hannover.
His family immigrated to the United States in 1923, arriving at Ellis Island, New York on June 14, 1923 aboard the steamship Seydlitz from Bremen, Germany. His family settled in a rural part of northern Iowa in the town of Sheffield near some relatives.
Kurt, or Helmut as he was known growing up, had a difficult time learning due to the language barrier as he only spoke German and was held-back to repeat 1st grade until his language skills improved. He went on to accel at learning and was accepted to Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, now the University of Northern Iowa, even though his family could not afford tuition. As a result, he worked his way through college tutoring, coaching, and doing custodial work, and painting houses through the summer.
He studied education and graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Education. While in college, he developed a lifelong affection for baseball. Even though he wrote with his right hand, he pitched, batted, and eventually golfed left-handed.
In February 1943, he entered the U. S. Army to serve in World War II against the Axis nations in Europe. Upon enlisting, it was suggested to him by an officer that he no longer be called by his middle name as he had been his entire childhood. So, Helmut became Kurt for the remainder of his life.
He served initially in the infantry in France. He served in the Rhineland Campaign and Central Europe Campaign, but when injured, he was moved to the Counter Intelligence Corps as an Investigator. His fluent German allowed him to fill an unlikely role as an interrogator of prisoners of war in Salzburg, Austria.
A young Austrian woman, Ingeborg Bauer, worked in the CIC office and a romance blossomed. Kurt was honorably discharged from the military in April 1946; he received several citations for his service to his country. After obtaining a dispensation from the Pope, since he was Lutheran and she a Catholic, Kurt and Inge were married in the church in St. Johann im Pongau, where Inge grew up, on July 6, 1947.
He was the first American married in the church, which was several hundred years old. Kurt and Inge honey-mooned in Austria and then lived for a while in St. Johann, until they moved back to Iowa.
They began to expand their family with the addition of Maggie in 1949 and Rob in 1950. He landed a job with the International Harvester Company in Mason City in 1949, and began a career that lasted until retirement, working his way up the corporate ladder.
The family moved to Davenport in 1953 where they welcomed their son Will in 1954; then moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1958, and finally Omaha, Nebraska in 1972.
Meanwhile the number of children increased with Monica in 1959, Kris in 1961, and Paul in 1963 rounding out to an even half-dozen. Kurt retired in 1978, and he, Inge and the two younger children moved to Estes Park, Colorado, a back-drop very reminiscent of the town in Austria where he and Inge were married.
When they became empty nesters they lived a contented existence, participating in the parish of Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church, socializing with a group of friends they met, and enjoying time spent in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Kurt was both dedicated to his working career and devoted to his large family caring for them with love and support. He enjoyed spending time as a family, and frequently Sunday afternoons were reserved for a family picnic at a nearby park or lake. He reveled in the family gatherings at the holidays, and celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.
He took great joy in his six children, 15 grandchildren / step-grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren, frequently ending up with the youngest of the clan on his lap for a photo-op.
He is survived by his children Maggie Cook (Bill), Rob Niedringhaus (Linda), Will Niedringhaus (Melanie), Monica Reed (Jeff), Kris Ford (Joel), Paul Niedringhaus (Christin), 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
Please visit www.allnuttestespark.com to leave a message to the family.