Harold (Harry) J. Kelchen – formerly of Ryan

Our husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Harold (Harry) Joseph Kelchen, formerly of Ryan, Iowa, passed away on October 29, 2020. At the time of his death, he resided with the love of his life, Pearl, at the Unity Point Living Center West Community in Cedar Rapids.

Harry was born on February 13,1933, in Worthington, Iowa, to Peter and Florence (Leigh) Kelchen. He was the middle of ten children, including Ernest (Irma)(Marianna) Kelchen, Elsie (Emil) Altoff, Grace (Cletus) Burkle, Verna Kelchen, Lloyd (Rosanne) Kelchen, Gerald (Norma) Kelchen, LeRoy (Rosalyn) Kelchen, Leon (Dixie) Kelchen and Eugene (Mary) Kelchen.

Harry and Pearl (Helle) married on November 23, 1954, in Dyersville, Iowa. There were seven children brought into this world through their lifelong love story.  Karen (John) Thomsen, Ryan, Bill Jensen, Mechanicsville, Jim (Janet) Kelchen, Edgewood, Tom (Darla) Kelchen, Greeley, Del Timmerman, Strawberry Point, Jane (John) Friedley, Volga, Linda (Michael) Martin, Cedar Rapids, Donna (Mike) Meyer, Dyersville, and Margie (Tom) Oleson, Cedar Rapids. Their seven children blessed them with 20 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and are awaiting the arrival of four more. Harry was proud to be the family patriarch and proudly owned the “blame” for growing into such a large family over the course of their 65 years of marriage!

Despite only having a formal education through the eighth grade, Harry had a natural curiosity on how things worked and lived his life with an entrepreneurial spirit. He loved to fix things and work with his hands.  It was always understood in our family, if dad can’t fix it, no one can.  Harry and Pearl farmed for many years until they settled down in Ryan, Iowa. While living in Ryan, Harry established his own lawn mowing business and sold Patz farm equipment.

Beyond fixing things, tinkering on engines, lawn mowers, or anything else that could run, Harry had a unique connection with babies. He was gifted in a way where he could sing to and calm the fussiest of babies which was a blessing while raising their children and taking care of their numerous “adopted” grandchildren from their days of babysitting. For many years, Harry and Pearl could be found dancing their way around the dance floor following just about any Polka circuit in NE Iowa, S Minnesota or SW Wisconsin.  Harry loved polka music until his very last day. It was often the one thing that would calm him in times of trouble and illness.

Harry was preceded in death by his son, Thomas Anthony, his son-in-law, John Thomsen, his great-grandson, Tanner Sofield, his parents, Peter and Florence, his siblings, Ernie, Grace, Verna, Lloyd, Jerry, LeRoy, Leon and Gene, as well as brothers-in-law, Cletus Burkle and John Schwendinger, and sisters-in-law, Marianna Kelchen, Irma Kelchen, Dixie Kelchen, and Sister Mary Ann Helle.

Because of COVID-19 concerns, masks are required at the funeral home and church.

Online condolences may be sent to

Mass of Christian Burial:  11:00 a.m., on Friday, November 6, 2020, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Manchester with Rev. Gabriel Anderson officiating.

Visitation:  4:00 to 8:00 p.m., on Thursday, November 5, 2020, at Leonard-Muller Funeral Home in Manchester, where there will be a 3:30 p.m. Scripture Service.

Interment:  St. Mary Catholic Cemetery – Manchester, Iowa


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