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Arnold “Arnie” Charles Holthaus

December 13, 2021 | 19 comments

Arnold “Arnie” Charles Holthaus, 91, devoted husband, father and grandpa passed away at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center on Saturday, December 11, 2021. He was the ninth child born to Frederick and Nellie (Adams) Holthaus, December 31, 1929, growing up in Onalaska and graduating from Onalaska High School in 1948.

He met the love of his life, Nancy (Pinker) on a blind date arranged by one of his nieces.  They married May 2, 1959, at Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse and celebrated 62 years of marriage.  Arnie worked at Trane company for 21 years, then as sales representative for Mississippi Welders 21 years and joined Advanced Electric to make deliveries.  He was completely retired at age 88.

After high school, Arnie was drafted to the Korean war and was a medic in the 34th General Hospital.  During time spent in Germany, he was able to connect with Onalaska classmate LeRoy Hougom who happened to be there at the same time, seeing a familiar face from home.  Arnie and Nancy enjoyed many years organizing his “Army buddy reunion” to stay in touch with those he served with.  As an Army veteran, he was able to participate in the Freedom Honor Flight with son, Jeff, accompanying him.

Arnie worked along with his father, brother Donald and other family members, with their team of Mountain Welsh ponies which they took to area parades and rodeos.  From his days of riding his Palomino horse, Sonny, he took that interest and experience to later enjoy the Great American Trail ride and last cattle drive in Wyoming with son Jay, investing in all the riding apparel and coming home with his very own big cowboy belt buckle.

He treasured the first car he ever owned, a 1931 Ford Model A Tudor, moving it from his dad’s backyard to his backyard, his garage, finally restoring it with the help of his son-in-law, Rob. The family and granddaughters enjoyed being picked up from school and going for rides. Arnie and his car both made an appearance in reenactment of the Mindoro WI bank robbery.

As a lifetime member of First Lutheran Church in Onalaska, Arnie sang in the choir with his good friend Pete Sherry for over 50 years.  They both also enjoyed years of barbershop harmony performing with the Coulee Chordsmen.

Arnie will be greatly missed by his wife and family including sons, Jay (Renae) Holthaus and Jeff (Melissa) Holthaus, and daughter JoAnn (Rob) Kranig.  Grandpa’s girls are Kaylin (Jake) Hillestad, McKenzie (Brandon) Rude, Kirsten Holthaus (Chris Zeller), Megan Holthaus (Wyatt Stotts), and Sydney Kranig.  He welcomed his first great-grandson in October, Hudson Hillestad. He is also survived by younger brother, Lloyd Holthaus of La Crosse, WI, and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and siblings James (Marie), Leslie (Vivian), Donald (Evie), Faye (Waldo) Benrud, Marcella (George) Hinkley, Mildetta, Dorothy (Bill) Foster, and Margaret.

Funeral services for Arnie will be held at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, December 16, at First Lutheran Church, 410 Main St in Onalaska.  Visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. until the time of service and luncheon will follow the memorial service at The Gathering Place Center, 133 Mason Street, Onalaska.  Burial will follow in the Onalaska Cemetery at a later date.

Coulee Region Cremation Group will be assisting the family with services.



  1. Gary Hougom

    To the entire Holthaus family, I am so sorry for your loss. Arnie was a great man and will be forever missed. I know he was met by my father and mother at the heavenly gates.
    Thinking of you all.

  2. John Every

    Arnie and Nancy built and stabilized the great family.
    It was a pleasure driving by Arnie’s yard seeing that very well cut neat grassyard he had as he tookgreat pride and the looks of his yard

  3. Dennis & Denise Furlong

    Arnie will be missed. He was always in a happy-go-lucky mood. Our sincere condolences to Nancy and family. Rest in peace, Arnie…….

  4. Doug Huggett

    Sending condolences to you Nancy, and the entire family. It’s always been a pleasure to be in the company of Arnie whenever and wherever meeting. A fixture in the community and neighborhood, a welcoming smile, and friendly chat. I look forward to singing with him in the Heavenly choir one day. RIP🎶🙏🏻❤️

    • Bev Hougom DiNicola

      My heart is broken for the entire Holthaus family.
      Arnie was a great friend of Dad’s, and they both bled purple for their beloved city of Onalaska.💜
      I never saw Arnie without a smile on his face, and he had such love in his heart for Nancy and his family.
      He was a wonderful part of First Lutheran Church, and his presence will truly be missed.
      I feel blessed and fortunate to have known this great man.
      I hope he is enjoying some laughs and a cup of coffee with my Mom and Dad in Heaven.❤️

  5. james smith

    Sorry to hear of the passing of my high school friend. I always enjoyed his company and his skills in basketball and baseball. I enjoyed reading about his many activities and wonderful family. I pray that your faith and love will sustain you at this time.

  6. Sigurd Olson

    i’m so very sorry to hear of Arnie’s death. I sang in choir with him and also went to many ball games. I considered Arnie to be a good friend. Nancy, I wil keep you in my prayers. Sig Olson

  7. Judy (Finley) LaFond

    So sorry for your loss. Arnie was a wonderful person, I made sure to stop by on Halloween to visit and Arnie enjoyed seeing my kids dressed up. You couldn’t ask for better neighbors to grow up across the street from.

  8. Tom Golden

    Nancy and family, as has been said many times in previous messages, you would always see Arnie with a smile on his face. Our kids and Arnie’s and Nancy’s grew up together and spent many time back and fourth between our homes. Rest in peace Arnie.

  9. Bruce E Nuttall

    I worked with Arnie for 10 years. He was such a positive influence on all of us. Many great memories of him. He will be missed.

  10. Deborah Sage-Drexler

    Nancy, Lloyd and family. My sincere condolences to you and your family. Arnie will be missed by many Onalaska residents. Hoping you find peace and family through the holiday season.

  11. Lisa (Sherry) Liebl

    Thoughts & prayers are with Nancy, Jay, Jeff, JoAnn and their families. Arnie was a dear friend of my parents, especially my dad Pete. They enjoyed the gift of music and friendship for many, many years. A friendly soul, I fondly remember Arnie’s sense of humor, his gentle ways and always a smile to share. Cherish those memories. Rest In Peace Arnie.

  12. Bonnie Roth

    I am so sorry to hear of Arnie’s passing – we were in choir together at First Lutheran many years ago, along with Bing Skogen and so many others I can’t remember at the moment – but I do remember Arnie was a very nice man who always had a smile. My sincere sympathies to Nancy and family……

  13. Tracy Lee-Frost

    Very sorry to hear of your dad’s passing, hugs and prayers for your families.

  14. Roger Christians

    My condolences to you, Nancy. Arnie was one of my most favorite Barbershoppers. Always smiling. Never a harsh word with anyone. A truly gentle soul. We’ll miss him.

  15. Mary Every

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you Nancy and family. Arnie was a special guy, we definitely will miss his laugh and smile at FLC. I still can see him walking into church with his Christmas suite on. Always smiling, had great love for everyone but especially Nancy. I will miss seeing the two of them together coming down the aisle at church for communion, greeting everyone with a smile. Rest in Peace. Our love and prayers. Den and Mary

  16. Randy Sandy Evans

    Prayers to you all. So sorry to this.

  17. Carol Peterson

    Nancy and family, I just read of Arnie’s death and am so sorry I missed his funeral. Many memories of the 2 of you at First Lutheran with smiles and greetings. You both were thought of every time I drove by your home. May God’s peace be yours as you journey forth.

  18. Rick Czeczok

    I knew Arnie from his sales days with welding supplies. He always had a smile on his face and a attitude second to none. Always liked the man for the man he was.

    God speed.


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