Obituary of Walter K. Essig

November 10, 2009

Walter K. Essig

Note: Walter K. Essig, was the husband of  Alice Riedlinger Essig who died in 1997.  Alice was one of the original founders of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. The Walter and Alice Riedlinger Essig Collection has been established at the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo. See this webpage: and for "Alice Riedlinger Essig".

The following text was received from an email dated 10 November from Margaret Freeman, Redondo Beach, California, a longtime friend of the Essig family: "Tonight Walt's daughters called to tell me that Walt Essig had passed on one week and one day past his 102nd birthday which is October 31. Only for the last couple of weeks had he been uncomfortable but he was up walking with his cane up until that time.

Alice and Walt were a great team all of their married life of some 60 years. When on the farm, Alice would grease the combine while Walt had a meal so that he could continue his work. When they moved to Bismarck, Walt supported Alice while she worked at the fledging Germans from Russia Heritage Society office. Many of her early obituaries have the pedigree of the deceased in the margin, thanks to Alice. The Essigs and Pritzkaus became very staunch friends when the Essigs could not locate an ancestral grave and the Pritzkaus knew it was on a hill on a farm or near their farm in Logan County, ND. When we joined GRHS in 1978, we found Alice still donating much time in the office. It was Alice Essig who copied the first Declarations of Intent that the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association ( published, that of McIntosh County, ND.

There are GRHS programs from the 1980s when Walter Essig talked about railroads and Indian settlements as well as early pioneers on the prairies. Always quite,unassuming, protesting that he did not know very much, he was a walking encyclopedia of information of the early years in the Dakotas. We can be glad we had his expertise for a century and more."

"Obituary of Walter K. Essig." Bismarck Tribune, 10 November 2009.

Walter K. Essig, 102, Bismarck, died Nov. 8, 2009, peacefully at home. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Faith Lutheran Church, Bismarck, with the Rev. Wes Aardahl officiating. Burial will be in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Bismarck.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Eastgate Funeral Service, Bismarck, and continue on Saturday, one hour prior to the service at the church.

Walter was born Oct. 31, 1907, to Christian and Wilhelmine "Minnie" (Siegele) Essig on the family homestead in Schiller Township, near Lincoln Valley of Sheridan County. His family moved to McClusky when he was 6. After high school, he worked for three years at the First State Bank of Denhoff and then four years as Sheridan County deputy auditor.

He married Alice Riedlinger on June 24, 1931. In 1934, they took over the operation of the Essig homestead near Lincoln Valley until they retired and moved to Bismarck in 1974.

He served on several committees including the AAA farm program, and also was a long-time member of the Sheridan County Welfare Board. He was recognized for following good farming and soil conservation practices. He was active in St. Andrews Lutheran Church and its Parish. In Bismarck, he became a member of Faith Lutheran Church and was active in its Friendship Circle. He was a member of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society and also of the local chapter of AARP. He had a lifelong interest in history and was dedicated to discovery and preservation of early history of North Dakota. He had a hobby of hand book binding and book repair.

Walter is survived by his daughters, Kathleen Bennett, Concord, Calif., and Margaret Pretzer, Bismarck; his sons, James (Judy), Fargo, and Robert (Rita), Scottsboro, Ala.; his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; his brother, Hugo (Frances), McClusky; and his brother-in-law, Ted (Ruth) Riedlinger, Everett, Wash.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Alice; three brothers; one grandson; and one son-in-law.

Go to to share memories of Walter and to sign the online guest book.

Posted in Obituaries on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 2:00 am

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller