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Rev. Henry Dreistadt 12/14/2022

Rev. Henry R. Dreistadt at the age of 90 went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday December 14, 2022. Henry was born March 23, 1932 in Manor, PA the son of Nicholas and Sophia (Hoak) Dreistadt. Following high school graduation, Henry enlisted in the US Air Force serving during the Korean War. Upon discharge from the Air Force Henry started his schooling at Cleveland Bible College in Cleveland, Ohio later transferring to Bethany College in West Virginia.

Henry began his ministerial calling by first serving as a student pastor at the United Methodist church in Amity PA. During this time, he earned a history degree from Bethany College in West Virginia. In 1959 Henry moved his family to Wisconsin. Henry has served as the pastor at the following Methodist churches. 1959-1963 Brandon Wi. During this time, he attended Garrett theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois earning a master’s degree in theology. From 1963-1970 he was the pastor at Lake Geneva. 1970-1982 River Falls Methodist Church. 1987-1994 Green Bay, WI. 1994-1996 Pastor at Suamico Methodist Church. From 1982-1987 while living in Eau Claire, WI Henry was a District Superintendent. This role entailed providing supervision and pastoral support for the 98 churches in this district. After retirement Henry and his wife JoAnn returned to River Falls to be closer to their family. Henry was a very warm and personable man whose welcoming smile would light up any room he walked into. Henry felt a deep passion for helping others and has touched the lives of many people throughout his 60 years in ministry.

Throughout his life Henry has served on various boards and committees including Turning Point, River Falls School Board, North East Wisconsin Family Service Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity, American Legion post 121, and Kiwanis Club, to name just a few. Henry was a hardworking and very generous and giving of his time to things that would benefit others and better the communities in which he lived. In 2009 he was voted Citizen of the year and was the Grand Marshall for the River Falls Day Parade.

Having grown up in the small railroad town of Penn, Pennsylvania Henry developed a lifelong interest in the railroads. He had a passion for and collected various model trains. A huge attraction for Henrys children and grandchildren was visiting Grandpa Henry and getting to operate the trains. He had them set up to run through and around the extensively large Christmas Village he had on display. Henry shared his love for the railroad by volunteering as a tour guide at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay.
Above all Henry loved to spend time with friends and family, with 21 grandkids and over 40 great grand kids. He had a fulltime job attending their activities from birthday parties, sports games, tractor pulls, car drag races, music recitals and concerts. County Fairs, State Fairs, town parades, graduations, Easter Egg hunts, school and church plays, VBS and Sunday School Programs. Henry was so proud and honored to have baptized and officiated at the wedding ceremonies for many of his children and grandchildren. He never missed an opportunity to get down on the floor and play with the littlest members of his family.

He enjoyed Bridge, 500, Solitary and most other card and board games. Henry played with the Men’s Bridge League in River Falls for many years. He was a big reader, history buff and Green Bay Packer fan.
While living in River Falls, he could be seen driving around in the 1936 Dodge Brothers Coupe he had restored.
Henry had several collections, with his favorite being the green Westmoreland Glass from his hometown factories in Pennsylvania.

Henry loved to travel and even at the age of 90 Henry was fun and adventurous. He was a very easy travel companion who always livened up the car rides by winning the trivia games, leading singalongs and sharing stories.
In addition to visiting almost every US State, Henry has traveled to Greenland, Germany, Egypt, Canada, Mexico, the Mediterranean, England, Singapore, Chili, Brazil, Israel and Kenya.
He is preceded in death by his wife, JoAnn (Ailport) Dreistadt; his parents, Nicolas and Sophia; siblings, Leonard (Dorothy), Ruth (John) Reidmiller, and Nicholas Dreistadt. Henry is survived by children, Steve (Jenny) Dreistadt, Sue (Steve) Watters, Karen (Brian) Gresback, Kathy Hilden, close family friend, Gretchen Link, brother Bob Dreistadt, sister in law Anne Dreistadt and first wife Dee Ann Dreistadt; step-daughters, Star (Chuck) Flanscha, Crystal (Mark) Larsen, Spring (Robert) Loberg, LaRee (Aaron) Peters; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; as well as numerous other relatives and friends.

A celebration of Henry’s life was held on Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 11:00 am at Spirit of Grace Church (127 S 2nd St.) River Falls. Visitation was also Saturday from 9:30-11:00 am at the church. Private family interment will be held at a later date. Military honors were provided by American Legion Post #121 of River Falls. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the River Falls Food Pantry. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.

Click to see the recording of the memorial service at Spirit of Grace Church



  • Aleisha Colbeth Posted December 15, 2022 3:31 pm

    miss you herry Dreistadt
    pray for the family

    • Sue, Karen and Kathy Posted December 20, 2022 11:20 pm

      Aleisha your warm smile and cheerful greetings towards Henry each time you’d see him as just an extension of your kind nature and I know Henry enjoyed your friendship.

  • Siri Smith Posted December 15, 2022 3:55 pm

    Henry was my confirmation minister, and has remained a friend of mine ever since. There is surely a brighter star in the sky tonight.

    • Janet Ellinger Posted December 19, 2022 4:36 pm

      Brighter star indeed.

    • Steve,Karen, Sue and Kathy Posted December 20, 2022 11:17 pm

      Dad sure enjoyed the very frequent cards you sent. Each card was so unique and beautiful. The recent paper art stand up Christmas tree you sent was part of his. room decorations as it sat on display. We are deeply appreciative of your thoughtfulness and the kind hand written messages that included in every card you. It was these simple kind gestures that brightened up his days …God Bless you

  • Randall J Pearson Posted December 15, 2022 10:29 pm

    Reverend Henry was one of the most important people in my whole life he always took the time to give you all he could and to assist everybody into making a better life for themselves from my confirmation to traveling to Chicago for my marriage you will always have a large place in my heart I will miss you dearly but I know you’re in a much better place prayers to his family and peace of mind

    • Sue, Karen and Kathy Posted December 20, 2022 11:25 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Randy. I know the ways in which you and his life have crossed paths are moments that he felt were very important as well. You and your entire family are among some of the deepest friendships he had throughout his years in RF. God Bless you and hope you have a Merry Christmas

  • Mary and Mark Babler Posted December 16, 2022 5:11 pm

    Our hearts are so very heavy. How does one put into words about a man who touched and bettered so many lives. Our deepest sympathy goes out to all of you and we thank you for sharing your Dad with everyone. May God’s love sustain you today, tomorrow, and the months and years to come. With deep love, Mark and Mary Babler

    • Karen Sue Kathy Posted December 20, 2022 11:33 pm

      You two are as strong as pillars in the church as Henry was. I know there is a mutually strong relationship you had with Henry and he with you. He treasured the love and enthusiasm you have and share for the church. Dad knew as it got harder for him to be one of those that went out of his way to great and welcome visitors and new church family that you’d be there to help keep the welcome wagon going and recognize and joyfully and sincerely share things with the congregation during prayer request time. He loved and appreciated your friendship. God Bless you and our prayers are with you Mary and your family as you start your treatments.

  • Jenny Hing Posted December 19, 2022 10:49 am

    🕊Peace be with you …
    Henry was a wonderful, kind & caring father-in-law who kept in touch even long distance with us in California. He included us in his travels as often as he could. He led a very full life & raised a family who follow in his footsteps. I cannot say more than has already been said. He is dearly missed far & wide. Loving sympathy ❤️

    • Karen Posted December 20, 2022 11:37 pm

      Dad always enjoyed and treasured your visits and the many travels him and JoAnn were able to take with you and Steve. He loved you deeply and was very proud when you joined the family. He did live a very full life and we are so grateful for the many years we all had together. Blessings to you.

  • Janet Ellinger Posted December 19, 2022 4:22 pm

    Henry: Colleague, mentor, dear friend, encourager, helper, gentle…and fiesty.
    The universe just shifted.

    • Karen Posted December 20, 2022 11:40 pm

      I know you lost a dear friend as you two have a strong history. No doubt you positively influenced his life as much as he did yours. We are grateful that you are able to help lead the celebration service of his life. Gods blessings to you.

  • David Blackmer Posted December 22, 2022 6:03 am

    Henry, from your love of Fanny Crosby hymns, your relentlessly tender heart for people, your striving for excellence in church, “sanding sermons” before you preached, showing respect and collegiality I never deserved, frequently opening your home and lives to me and Lee Ann … God has left indelible fingerprints on my life that will always be, because of you. I am eternally grateful.

    • Karen Gresback Posted December 22, 2022 8:58 pm

      Dad so loved the years he served in Green Bay with you. I heard him say more than once that the years he and JoAnn served in Green Bay were the most enjoyable and career highlights for him. He loved the Green Bay church family the friends , the Green Bay Packers but he really enjoyed sharing the pulpit with you. We will miss dad deeply and are grateful for the many years we had him. Gods blessings to you and your family.

    • Kathy Hilden Posted December 29, 2022 7:27 pm

      Hi Dave, Thank you for the kind words. I totally agree with what my sister replied. I just wanted to let you know, dads service on January 7th at 11:00 am will be live streamed. Go to Spirit of Grace Church (in River Falls) Blessing to you and your family

  • Richard Schwenk Posted December 31, 2022 11:42 am

    Pastor Henry, was one of our “home pastors” when my wife and I were missionaries in the Philippines and Sarawak, Malaysia. He greeted and attended to our needs when we visited in River Falls and Green Bay and my home town of Hudson. My granddaughter and I talked with him last summer after church in River Falls — still so friendly and helpful. He really did light up the churches as a pastor and friend.

    • Karen Gresback Posted January 1, 2023 9:35 am

      Dad loved his church family. He always was a welcoming face seeking out new visitors and old friends at church greetings them after church. No doubt he was honored to support you and your family doing Gods work on the other side of the world. Im glad you two got to visit recently. Dad treasured the relationships he had with others. God Bless you and your family.

  • Virgil C. Nylander Posted January 6, 2023 9:28 pm

    Fifty plus years ago my wife and I were looking for a church. We visited the Methodist Church in River Falls where Henry was preaching. During his sermon, he told a somewhat cute and off color joke. I turned to my wife and said this is the Church for us. A preacher who was caring and inspirational with a sense of humor.
    Henry also sat with me in the hospital.while my wife was giving birth to our daughter. A kind gesture.
    He will be missed.

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