Robert Litfin Jr.

Obituary of Robert Litfin Jr.

Robert Litfin Jr., 91, of Lodi, California, went to his heavenly home on March 29, 2021 after a long illness. He was born on November 24, 1929, the second born child of Robert and Emelie Litfin, in Dobrzyn nad Wisla, Poland. In German it was called Dobrin an der Weichsel. On our map it is on the Vistula River. Robert Jr. grew up with his grandparents, parents, and four siblings on a large farm. His family grew rye, strawberries, lots of potatoes and apples, a few pears, and their largest crop, prune plums. His ‘chores’ as a youngster were to find tadpoles with his younger brother, Oscar, and play in the barn. Robert attended Polish school 2 km away and when there was snow, the neighbor kids, Germans and Poles, would take turns pooling to school by horse and wagon. German church was across the river, so they took rowboats to get to church. In winter, they took a sleigh across the river. When Robert was a young teenager, the Germans who lived in that part of Poland had 15 minutes to give up their homes and all their belongings. They became bondservants to their Polish neighbors or were put into forced labor camps. There are many stories of divine intervention that were shared in the family, but here is the one that he specifically asked to put into his obituary so that everyone would know about the grace and mercy of God and His faithfulness to His people. As Robert was hauling straw for the cattle in the slave camp, he felt someone push him. Then he heard a voice. “The Holy Spirit said follow me and I took straw to the place where I slept.” Because he had been harshly treated, he had become frail. Hidden, Robert heard the men say, “He doesn’t do good any more. We will kill him tomorrow and bury him in the straw.” Robert prayed, “God, I am too young to die.” The Spirit of God told him, “don’t worry, I am with you.” Despite being very weak, Robert was able to go with the angel who had prepared an escape route for him. Late that night, though the barn door creaked and guards slept nearby, he was able to pass through without anyone waking. He found his way to his mother, who had been taken as a servant a few kilometers away. The Polish owner of the home was kind and allowed Emelie to nurse Robert back to health. Several heart-wrenching events later, with the help of a Polish friend and former neighbor, the family escaped to Stettin, a city known for assisting those who had to flee their homes. Robert’s father was not with them because he was in the German army and was taken as a POW. The family was able to move to a small village near Hanover, Germany, where Robert worked in a cement factory and directed the ‘orchestra’ at his church. He often played his Waldzither with his harmonica attached on extensions and was the family ‘One-Man-Band.” Pauline Litfin was a very good singer and had played the violin in Germany. Between them, they instilled a love of music in all their five children, who are still singing, playing, and performing musically. Eventually they went to a Displaced Persons Center nearby to prepare to move to America. In the emigration camp, Robert met “the most beautiful girl there.” Her name was Pauline Lippert and they exchanged their upcoming American addresses. Emelie Litfin’s brother, Gus Manke of Modesto, was sponsoring the Litfin family to come to America. Robert arrived in the United States in February of 1952 and worked with his brothers moving houses. He went to Kansas to propose and Robert and Pauline were married on January 18, 1953, at First Baptist Church in Lodi, California. It was a German church with German services at the time. Robert started a successful gardening business and a nursery. He passed the exam for his landscaper’s license on the first try. His most impressive ongoing landscaping and maintenance projects were General Mills, Gross Convalescent Home, and First Baptist Church. Robert was very active in First Baptist Church and Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship in Lodi, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, and The Gideons International. One of his favorite activities was when they would go out to pass out bibles in large groups. Robert was often innovative and the first to introduce decorative rock instead of lawns and plants. This really took off in the seventies with the water shortage and energy crisis. Litfin’s Rock Sales became a popular place for Do-It-Yourselfers. After his retirement in 1994, Robert and Pauline enjoyed traveling in their motor home, taking cruises, and visiting with family. Robert is survived by Pauline Litfin, his wife of 68 years, Hilda Stelter, his sister in Oregon, daughter Agnes (Stephen) Olmsted, sons Helmuth (Evonne) and Hugh (Gloria), daughter Lynette (Bryan) Lowe, and son Edward (Tamatha), as well as nine grandchildren, Christina (Matt) Boone, Katie (Mike) Steen, Andrew Litfin, Jakob and Joshua Litfin, Esther and Benjamin Lowe, and Rachel and Matt Litfin, and also five great-grandchildren. Robert was predeceased by parents Robert and Emelie Litfin and brothers Gustav, Oscar, and Albert. Viewings will be on Thursday, April 29, 11:00-3:00 p.m., and Friday, April 30 3:00–7:00 p.m., at Lodi Funeral Home, 725 S. Fairmont in Lodi. The public Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 267 N. Mills Avenue in Lodi, CA. Live-streaming for this will be at fbclodi.org/live-events. The family burial will be held earlier in the day starting at Lodi Funeral Home. Internment will be at Lodi Memorial Cemetery. Robert loved flowers and plants, but if he were still here, he would even more appreciate donations in his memory to The First Baptist Church, Missions Projects, 267 N. Mills Avenue, Lodi, CA 95242, or The Gideons International at P.O. Box 971, Lodi, CA 95241. Your sentiments, tributes, and extra details can be obtained at LODIFUNERALHOME.com.
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Thursday
29
April

Visitation

11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Lodi Funeral Home
725 S Fairmont Ave
Lodi, California, United States
209-369-3564
Friday
30
April

Visitation

3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Friday, April 30, 2021
Lodi Funeral Home
725 S Fairmont Ave
Lodi, California, United States
209-369-3564
Saturday
1
May

Celebration of Life

1:30 pm
Saturday, May 1, 2021
First Baptist Church
267 N Mills Ave
Lodi, California, United States
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