Rev. Robert A. Onkka

Macken Funeral Home Memorial Photo
Date of Birth:
Thursday, June 15, 1922
Date of Death:
Friday, October 9, 2020
Age:
98 years old

Burial

Location: Baldwin Cemetery [ view map ]

Macken Funeral Home Memorial Photo
Date of Birth:
Thursday, June 15, 1922
Date of Death:
Friday, October 9, 2020
Age:
98 years old
Macken Funeral Home Memorial Photo
Date of Birth:
Thursday, June 15, 1922
Date of Death:
Friday, October 9, 2020
Age:
98 years old

Rev. Robert A. Onkka

Robert Alvin Onkka, 98, died Friday, October 9, 2020 in Rochester, Minnesota.

A private, family funeral service will be held at Bethel Lutheran Church in Rochester on October 12, 2020. Burial will be at the Baldwin Cemetery, Baldwin, WI.

Bob was born in Virginia, MN, on June 15, 1922. He was the son of Eino and Inga (Broten) Onkka. He was raised in Windom, MN, where the family moved in 1929. He was confirmed at the Windom Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1937 and graduated from high school in 1940 with Dolores Johnson, his neighbor and future wife; the joy of his life. He started Concordia College, Moorhead, MN in 1941 and in 1942 began three years of service in the army. While in the army, he spent one year at Santa Clara College, Santa Clara, CA. On May 13, 1944, he and Dolores were married at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA. He served in Europe with the 11th Armored Division as a forward observer in Headquarters Battery, 491st Artillery Battalion. While in the service, he suffered severe hearing loss from a concussion, and was wounded in combat and awarded the Purple Heart. He was discharged in October 1945 and returned to Concordia College in January 1946, graduating in 1948. He then attended Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, MN, graduating in 1951. Following ordination at the Windom church on June 10, 1951, Bob and Dolores served the Our Savior’s and Stanford Lutheran Churches, Rice Lake, WI, 1951-54; Trinity and Waverly Lutheran Churches, Truman, MN, 1955-60; Valders, Our Savior’s, and Gjerpen Lutheran Churches in Valders, WI, which were merged into one congregation, Faith Lutheran Church and a new church was built, 1960-73; and Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Baldwin, WI, 1973-87.

Upon retirement in October 1987, Bob and Dolores moved to Zumbrota, MN and two weeks later Bob started as a part-time pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Rochester, MN, where he served twenty-two years, until October 2009. During his active years he also served on the Bible Camp Boards for Luther Park Bible Camp, Chetek, WI; Green Lake Bible Camp, Spicer, MN, and Imago Dei Bible Camp, Clintonville, WI; vice-president, Northern Wisconsin District of the American Lutheran Church; Board of Directors, Luther Theological Seminary; Board of Directors, Lutheran Orient Mission Society; and Alumni Board of Concordia College. He was also chair of the Wisconsin Legislative Council and was appointed by the governor to the Wisconsin Judicial Commission.

Bob is survived by two children: Susan (David) Willig, Grinnell, IA; John (Mary) Onkka, Baldwin, WI. He is also survived by ten grandchildren, twenty-one great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

He is preceded in death by his wife Dolores (1989), his parents, his brother Paul and wife Marsha, his sister Joan and husband Gerald Wiger, his brother Eino and wife Claire, and his daughter Ruth (Dale) Hinderaker.

Memorials may be directed to ELCA World Hunger.

Online condolences are welcome at www.mackenfuneralhome.com

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Condolences

The family of Rev. Robert A. Onkka has received the following condolences.

Dear Susan, David, John, Mary, Dale, and family members:


You have my sympathy as you mourn the passing of your father and grandfather.  I have many fond memories of Pastor Onkka and Delores as they ministered to our congregation which eventually became Faith Lutheran Church in Valders.  My dad, James Madson served on the building committee for the new church and became a teacher for the Bethel Bible series the church adopted. I wasn't too far behind the Onkka students in high school and if my memory serves me, John enjoyed riding horses a few times on our farm.  Through the years we had lost contact with your family, but my HS classmate Signe Burkart offered this online information.  My dad passed on July 6, 2007 and mom died three weeks ago, on  September 21, 2020.


I was not aware of Ruth's passing.  I offer condolences for your pain in her loss, also. 


Pastor Onkka had a very positive influence on my life.  My time spent playing organ at Faith the last two years of High School blossomed into 29 years as organist for a church in Manitowoc.  This verse comes to mind as I think of your dad/grandfather and many other beloved saints who have gone before him: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7    May your memories sustain you in the months ahead.

Dear family,


It is with deep sadness that I read in the Valders Journal of Pastor's death.  He certainly served our Lord for so many years.  I remember the good times with Luther League and all of the wonderful members, attending the national convention in Detroit, etc.  Time marches on...Harv passed away a year ago last May.  Our loved ones are so very missed.


With deep sympathy,  Lois Larson

My deepest Sympathies to Pastor Onka’s family.   He was the sweetest person I have ever met.  His light shone brightly.  He will be greatly missed by so many, including my granddaughter who raced into church to shake his hand and greet him. His light will continue to shine in all those he has touched.  Blessings to you as you celebrate his life and share memories of him. 

 Sorry to here about your loss. Pastor Ankka Married Jan and I in 1963 at Valders WI. Later when we lived in Rochester, MN we would meet him occasionally at various events in the area. He would always give Jan a big hug. He was a good friend and we will miss him.


Jan & Paul Burkart

Pastor Onkka had so many wonderful qualities, but most of all he was fun! He was so approachable As a pastor and made everyone feel better when he was around. I will always be thankful to have had the whole Onkka family in my life. 


Jeanne

So very sorry about your loss.  He was a remarkable man! He baptized me (a few years ago) at Waverly Lutheran.  My parents were Gene and Joyce Sheppard. I still go to Waverly and enjoyed visiting with him when he came for the anniversary’s. Gods blessings to all of you!

I knew Pastor Onkka from when he was the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (the "other" Lutheran church) in Truman.  John was a good friend of mine and I always remember going to his house and what a loving family he had.  I was impressed that John's dad was in the cavalry during WWII and he had this cool tank helmet with perforations in it.  Pastor Onkka lived a full life and many people were blessed by him being a part of theirs.  I give my condolences and best wishes to John and Susan.

We were so sad to hear of the passing of Bob. He was the best and will surely be missed. Love, hugs and prayers to all.

Pastor onka was such an inspiration when we came to church greeting us as we came in the door. We will miss him. He was a great man .

Pastor Onkka was dearly loved and admired by both Jim and me. We so respected who he was and his strong Christian values. He always stood up for Christ and the Word. He did not ‘go along to get along’. He stood strong for the Word. He was a fearless disciple of Christ. 


 


We are sad not to have him on earth, but joyful to know where he is. He was such a model of Christianity and will be missed. 


 


Our deepest sympathy and all our love for dear Pastor Onkka. 

To John and Mary and Susan and David and your families, you have our heart-felt sympathy. I am so grateful to God for placing Pastor and Mrs. Onkka at Gethsemane. We learned so much from both of them and their Christian example that has had a profound impact on our faith journey. “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” May God provide peace and comfort to you during this time. In His love, Lori (Lind) and Kirk Reimann

Pastor Onkka was such an inspiration to so many. My mom Gladys Roberts was church secretary at Bethel during some of the time he helped out fill in for Sunday services. She told me even then though retired he wanted to help wherever he could because that’s the type of man he was. He is going to be greatly missed

Pastor Onkka was a wonderful pastor. He baptized 3 of my grandchildren. My son and wife remember him with thoughts and prayers. He is know with his wife Delores. Bless his memory. 

Dear Susan, John and Families - So sorry to hear of “Uncle Bob’s” passing. Your father was a one-of-a-kind with such amazing energy and adventurous spirit. May he Rest In Peace. Love From, Eli, Doug, Inga and Ellis

A mentor, friend and pastor.  Thank you for all your wisdom as I was blessed to serve with you as a newly ordained Pastor.  Blessings to the family.  Pastor Julie Rogness

My heart is sad.  I will always love Pastor Onkka.  You are already greatly missed.   I will sing you to heaven in my heart.  I love you, Bob.

Goodbye Uncle Bob. Thank you for being such an important part of my family's life.

May God give you comfort and peace in knowing that he brought his beloved servant home.  I remember all of his years at Bethel and was so inspired by him and his sermons.  He lived a life of service to his Savior.  

Oh my heart💞 such an amazing man that will always hold a very special place in our heart.  Sending our deepest sympathy.  Wishing you peace.

Our deepest sympathy to the family!! Very fond memories of Pastor Bob.. He was with us at the time our son Scott was taken from us, married our daughter and son in law and baptized our granddaughter!  He has remained very special to us and every year exchanged Christmas cards . We always enjoyed his Christmas letter.. 


May Pastor Bob Rest In Peace!!


Our prayers to the family!!🙏🙏


Rogee and Sharon Wolske


 

Our deepest sympathy to the family!! Very fond memories of Pastor Bob.. He was with us at the time our son Scott was taken from us, married our daughter and son in law and baptized our granddaughter!  He has remained very special to us and every year exchanged Christmas cards . We always enjoyed his Christmas letter.. 


May Pastor Bob Rest In Peace!!


Our prayers to the family!!🙏🙏


Rogee and Sharon Wolske


 

My sympathy to your family. I loved Pastor Onnka and learned so much from him. He was a good and faithful servant and I know he is in our Savior’s hands. I’m praying for your comfort in the loss of your Father. 

Pastor Onkka is basking in the His Father’s Heaven alongside his wife, Dolores (“Gaga”) and reunited with all his loved ones gone before him.  We will miss his firm handshake and warm, welcoming smile in the Narthex each Sunday at Bethel Lutheran Church.  We will miss his wit, humor, and sharing the Good News of our Lord and Savior and his beautiful singing voice.  We had taken him a jar of homemade apple butter recently to Shorewood, but unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions we were not able to go to his apartment for a visit.  He was truly a remarkable, ‘ageless’ man who made an impact to those blessed to have known him.  Sincerest sympathy to the Onkka family; God is a near the broken hearted.


A recent quote from Pastor Norman Wahl’s sermon about Pastor Onkka’s definition of Christians and Heaven.  “Heaven is a dilemma for many Christians..we’re excited to get there, but we’re not in any hurry.”  


 

I was so sorry to hear of Pastor Onkka's passing. He was such a wonderful patient man and I always hoped he would officiate at my wedding, but he retired  before I got married. So many memories of him at Gethsemane during the confirmation years, especially.  My condolences to his family,  I know he will be greatly missed.