Cover photo for Erna Burgemeister's Obituary
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Erna Burgemeister

d. March 8, 2013

Erna Burgemeister

Erna Dockter Burgemeister


   Our mother, Erna, joined our father, Louie, in heaven on March 8, 2013.  She passed away peacefully at age 91 at her home in American Falls surrounded by her loving family. 

   Mom was born May 19, 1921, in a one room house near the lava beds in the Pleasant Valley area west of American Falls.  When she was one year old, three years of crop failure due to drought, hail, and rabbits made it impossible for her dad to continue farming in that area.  Her father and uncle found work in Rupert so they made arrangements to move their families to Rupert by train.  It was an exciting adventure for her older brother, sisters, and cousins who were old enough to remember the ride.  They had a basket lunch of fried chicken and bread.  While on the train they passed their fathers in the desert near Wapi.  They were bringing their few possessions by horse and wagon, a two day trip, to Rupert.  The sound of trains must have been ingrained in her mind at that young age as she loved the sound of trains all her life.  We could hear the sound of trains from our home in Pleasant Valley and when our folks moved to town, the trains could again be heard from their home.  Our mom loved to lie in bed at night and hear the sound of trains passing through American Falls.  Obviously the sounds of the train will never get old or be forgotten.  Ironically, only minutes after her passing early Friday morning, the sound of a train and its whistle were heard. 

   When her parents, Jacob and Regina Dockter, moved to Rupert, they bought a farm two miles west of town.  In 1932, when our mom was only 11 years old, her father died.  The farm was not yet paid for, so her mom had to give it up.  With her children helping in the fields, they were able to continue farming with rented property on another farm.  Our mom had to discontinue her education after the 8th grade to work in the fields.  She hoed, thinned, and helped harvest beets and picked potatoes. 

   It was a very hard life for our mom and her family.  The depression years left them with very little money.  Our mom remembers how she would have given anything for an ice cream cone when she was a child, but there wasn’t an extra nickel to get one. 

   Her widowed mother met Andrew Vollmer through church activities and they were married in 1939.  With this marriage, her brother,  sisters, and our mom gained 11 stepbrothers and sisters. The family left Rupert and moved to the Fairview area where her stepdad had a farm just west of American Falls.  This brought our mom back to the area where she was born years earlier.  She continued to work in the fields and picked potatoes for her stepdad. 

   One evening, our mom attended a function at a country school which is now the Fairview Inn, with her step brother, Bud.  It was there that she met our dad, Louie.  They were married 6 months later on January 26, 1940 at the Pleasant Valley Martin Luther Church.  This church was a German only speaking congregation which later merged with an English speaking church in American Falls.    

   For 57 years our parents lived on the farm where they raised dry land wheat and their family of four children.  Our dad worked hard to make a living being a farmer and our mom supported him with a well kept home, three home cooked meals a day, and working beside him in whatever he was doing.  This included raising their family, butchering chickens, making German sausage, milking cows, and cooking for his harvest crews, etc.

   Rarely could you enter our home without smelling something freshly baked which she generously shared with her family, friends, and neighbors.  Caring for her family, keeping house, making home cooked meals and maintaining a beautiful yard were our mom’s trademarks.  She used her gift of entertaining family and friends with unbelievable food and presentation.  We fondly remember her fried chicken every Sunday after church, homemade sauerkraut and knephla, her signature chicken noodle soup with super thin hand cut noodles, home preserved dill pickles, breaded deep fried shrimp, and chocolate cake with caramel icing, i.e. EVERYTHING SHE MADE. 

   Survivors are daughter Beverly (David) Nelson of Twin Falls, sons Tony (Juanita) Burgemeister of American Falls, Ken (Kris) Burgemeister of Pocatello, and Ray (Ronda) Burgemeister of Chubbuck.  Grandchildren include Kevin, Jeff, Matthew, Kendall, and Travis Burgemeister, Maren Snyders, Erica Black, and Ashley Nielsen.   Seventeen great grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews also survive her.  Our dad, Louie, her parents, brother Herbert, sisters Ella Shank and Frieda Jacobsen, eleven stepbrothers and sisters and one great grandson, Emmett Snyders, preceded her in death. 

   We appreciate and thank the many special people who lovingly cared for our mom in her home over the past 2½ years including family, caregivers, Caring Hearts, and Access Home Care & Hospice.    

   A service of celebration will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in American Falls.  A viewing will be held one hour prior to the service and also from 5:30 to 7:00 on Friday, March 15, 2013 in the Fireside Room at the church. 

   In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be given to Hope House, c/o St. John’s Lutheran Church, PO Box 55, American Falls, ID.  Hope House is a home for approximately 60 disadvantaged children in Marsing, Idaho. Or donations may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice. 

   Condolences and Memories may be shared at

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