Sunday Stories: Skip and Anita Elfeldt

I have been sharing with you the family stories of the AB Bert Snyder family. Bert and Grace Snyder's daughter Alberta "Bertie" married Glenn Elfeldt of Sutherland. Their son, "Skip" was chosen as the Grand Marshall of the Sutherland 4th of July Parade this past week.

Below is the article written by Trenda Seifer in the Sutherland Courier-Times. It is a nice continuation of the story. It is also a perfect example of how things get done in a small town and how people pull together to create economic development (it would still work today if folks had the inclination).

Skip Elfeldt’s grandparents, Arthur and Edith (Wallace) Elfeldt, of Hallum, Nebraska, came to Sutherland in 1911, settling on a farm approximately 12 miles southwest of town. Their oldest son, Glenn, was born that year. He graduated from Sutherland High School with the class of 1931. Glenn married Alberta “Bertie” Snyder in 1934. They lived for a while in Colorado, before returning to the family farm southwest of Sutherland. Their son Skip was born in Limon, Colorado in 1939. Skip attended high school at Sutherland, graduating in 1957. He served in the U.S. National Guard and Reserves from 1957 to 1962.

Skip met Anita Jean Mock in 1958 at a Rural Youth dance. Anita was the daughter of Art and Sophie Mock of Holbrook, NE. Skip was a scout leader and was farming at the time.

They married in 1962, and lived on the farm. Anita taught Kindergarten at Sutherland School two years while Skip farmed.

Anita noted that at that time, female teachers could not teach once they were pregnant, so this was the deciding factor as to how long she could teach. She also remembers that there were twenty-some kindergarteners who were living on farms south of Sutherland at that time.

Anita said that after she had her children, she always thought she might go back to teaching, but never did.

Skip and Anita had three children, Heidi, Holly and Jay. All three graduated from Sutherland Public Schools and all three graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

A conversation took place between several of the families in town that there was a need for a small business to provide employment. Skip explained that seven families each put in $100 for the purpose of buying the first two commercial sewing machines. With this, Sutherland Industries was born on December 13, 1962. Their first product was a tent to protect calves from weather.

The business was originally located in the 800 block of 1st Street, and employed four party time sewers. Opal Harshfield also came in to sew extra items. In 1971, Glenn and Bertie Elfeldt purchased the shares from the other investors and moved the company to its present location on Walnut Street, just north of the Sutherland Post Office. They manufactured truck tarps and later irrigation socks, among many products.

In 1977, Skip and Anita purchased the business from Glenn and Bertie.

Skip and Anita fondly remember their many employees down through the years. Sometimes teachers worked when they were between jobs, college kids, multiple generations of kids and grandkids. They noted that there are fewer and fewer skilled people who know how to sew, and fewer that are interested in doing this type of job rather than just being in front of a computer.

Through the years, Skip and Anita have been active in a number of community and state level organizations. Skip helped organize the Nebraska Simmental Association and served as its first President. He also helped organize the West Central Pork Producers and served as their first President. He was one of two delegates from Nebraska who served on the National Pork Producers Committee approximately three to four years. He has been a member of the Nebraska Cattleman’s Association and a member of the Industrial Fabric Association International. Skip has been active in the United Methodist Church, serving on various boards, and is also a member of the Sutherland Chamber of Commerce. Other Boards have included the Lincoln County Fair Board, the Lincoln County Extension Council, the Oddfellows, was a Boy Scout leader and served as Treasurer for the Opportunity Center.

He also noted that he pushed for several years, hoping to get a Sutherland Foundation going, and also served on its first board. Skip noted that whenever a former teacher passes away, this is a good time to give memorial money to the Foundation.

Anita’s volunteer efforts have included serving on the Extension Council, serving as Extension Club President, serving as a 4-H leader for 18 years, as well as being active in the Methodist Church.
She noted that she and Skip have not missed many State Fairs since 1950. Anita said they had always worked hard every year to be able to quality for the State Fair.

She also noted that they helped start the Pork Breakfast at NEBRASKAland DAYS.
They spoke of helping build the Methodist Church in Sutherland. “Every generation should have to build a church building,” said Skip.

Through the years, the Elfeldts have enjoyed travel. Their first trip was to Europe with the Rural Youth program through the Extension Service, back when they were engaged. They remember that the kids on the trip lived with farm families in Holland, Germany and Switzerland.

They have traveled in every state of the U.S., to China, to Australia, and New Zealand, on Extension trips, and to Kenya on a mission trip. Their most recent trip included a trip to Panama, and spent a day off the ship.

Skip and Anita are looking forward to this July 4th holiday, when all their kids and grandkids will come home.

Skip commented that they felt honored just to be asked to serve as Grand Marshals for the Parade. He said, “It takes a whole village to keep our businesses and our organizations going. It takes everybody.”


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