Sibley couple retire from funeral homes

Larry and Lavonne Andringa of Sibley have retired from the funeral home business. They had owned and operated Andringa Funeral Homes for 37 years.

REGIONAL—Larry and Lavonne Andringa are finally free to do what they want after nearly four decades of being buried in business.

The Sibley couple retired from owning and operating Andringa Funeral Homes after 37 years and have sold their company, which had locations in Sheldon, Sibley and Ocheyedan.

Larry said they are planning to travel and visit relatives. He also intends to spend time hunting ducks and geese.

“It’s time,” Larry said. “We just want some freedom.”

Larry, 65, and Lavonne, 60, have not had much time to consider taking a vacation since their business partner, John Bolin, retired in 2011.

“Freedom’s the name of this game,” Lavonne said. “We haven’t been able to think about that for nine years. Our brains don’t even know how to go there.”

The Andringa Funeral Home business in Sibley and the Andringa Funeral Chapel location in Ocheyedan have been taken over by Jurrens Funeral Homes, which has multiple facilities across N’West Iowa as well as one in southwest Minnesota.

Andringa Funeral Home in Sheldon has been purchased by Eldridge Family & Vander Ploeg Funeral Homes, which already has a Sheldon location as well as ones in Boyden, Paullina and Primghar.

“They’re known in each community and they have a good reputation,” Larry said of the Jurrens and Eldridge families.

Larry explained he became a licensed funeral director to help people through emotionally trying times.

“I enjoyed science,” he said. “I enjoyed the spiritual side of it with my belief in my Lord Jesus Christ.”

After serving as an ordnanceman in the U.S. Marine Corps 1974-78, Larry graduated in 1980 from Westmar College in LeMars with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in theology.

He graduated in 1981 from the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago. Two years later, Larry and Lavonne began serving the funeral needs of N’West Iowa families.

Larry and the former Lavonne Elgersma were married Feb. 12, 1983, in their hometown of Sheldon. Three days later, they opened their first funeral home, which was attached to their residence in Sibley.

In 1991, they purchased Andringa Funeral Home — Sheldon Funeral Service from Arthur Andringa, one of Larry’s older brothers.

Bolin, a licensed funeral director, was the Andringas’ business partner 1991-2011 for the Sheldon location only.

In 1994, Larry and Lavonne had Andringa Funeral Chapel built in Ocheyedan.

Larry served as a licensed funeral director for the overall business while Lavonne worked as his assistant, handling the behind-the-scenes duties, such as bookkeeping and paperwork.

“We’ve worked together well,” Lavonne said. “We’ve enjoyed working together. We were a good team.”

The couple will miss working with people and helping them plan funeral services for their loved ones.

“I enjoyed the people — getting to know them, their families,” Larry said.

Lavonne noted Larry always has been a people person.

“He did a really good job of serving people,” Lavonne said. “The occupation fit him very well. Larry was good at what he did. I enjoyed doing my part because he did his part, and it was easy. It worked well.”