Emma Katherine (Neiber) Bixby died on February 18, 2013 at St. Francis Nursing Home, Breckenridge, MN, due to natural causes, at the age of 103 years 9 months.
Emma Catherina Neuber, which was the name on her birth certificate, was born May 19, 1909, on a farm northwest of Ransom City, Ransom Twsp, Sargent Co, North Dakota. Ransom City was located 3 miles north of Cayuga, ND along the Soo Line railroad tracks. Her parents were Michael Andreas and Anna Emma (Gregor) Neuber who were married October 11, 1904 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, a couple miles due north of Ransom City, along the east side of the road.
Her siblings were; Mary Katherine- b. 1905 d. 1920, Anna- b. 1908 d. 7 days later, Katherine Johanna (Taylor)- b. 1911 d. 2011, Joseph Henry- b. 1913 d. 1997, Rosina Gertrude (Griggs)- b. 1918, Louise Anna (Blouin)- b. 1923 d. 2005 and Jerome William Neiber- b. 1927.
Emma spoke only the Lower German language upon entering school at the age of 6, where the teacher insisted on spelling the name “Neiber”, saying it was more grammatically correct and her parents, Mike and Anna, relented to the new spelling.
She attended school through the 6th grade by walking northeast 4 miles to Shuman #2 country school, a few miles east of Buffalo (Kandiotta) Lake in Sargent County.
In 1920, she nearly died of typhoid fever caused by drinking water from a neighbor’s contaminated well. Emma was never bedsick or even having a cold her whole life after that. Her grandmother, Catherine Neiber and sister, Mary, did succumb to the disease. Now, being the eldest child, she worked as a farmhand for her Dad until younger brother, Joe, came of age.
At a barn dance on the William Busching farm, 3 miles north of Milnor, ND, Emma met her future husband, Maynard Brown Bixby. They were married on October 3, 1933 by Father J. James Sammon in the St. Vincent Catholic Rectory at Stirum, ND. For their honey-moon, they drove a Model T Ford to Yankton, SD, to attend a dance by an up and coming bandleader, Lawrence Welk and his small orchestra.
They first settled on a rented farm southwest of Lisbon, ND. In 1942, they purchased a ranch 7 miles north of DeLamere, ND and 3 miles southwest of McLeod, ND, from her sister, Kate and husband, Reg Taylor. It was in the middle of nowhere, completely surrounded by government pastures, only 2 miles west of where Maynard had been born. Here they raised their family; Veronica (Fronie) Anna, Loretta Katherine, Barbara Elizabeth, Jerome Maynard and Larry Nolan Bixby. They worked this ranch until 1966 when the boys joined the military and it was sold.
Emma and Maynard traveled the western United States with their first ever new vehicle, a 1966 Ford pickup and a new travel trailer, for a couple years, before purchasing a new mobile home in 1967 and set it up in Milnor, ND. Maynard died on July 5, 1979 of kidney failure and an enlarged heart. Emma lived at home on her own until 2006 and has resided at St. Francis Nursing Home, Breckenridge, MN since December 2008.
Surviving are her children, Loretta (Arnold) Harak of Laramie, WY, Barbara (Rod) Morrison, of Falls City, OR, Jerome (Janice) Bixby of Milnor, Larry (Deb) Bixby of Oakes, ND; son- in-law, Tony Brown and sister, Rose Griggs, both of Milnor and brother, Jerome (Ann Slabik) Neiber of Veblen, SD. Also surviving are 18 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, 10 great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; daughter, Veronica (Fronie) Brown, sisters; Mary, Anna, Kate and husband, Reg Taylor, Louise and husband, James (Bud) Blouin and brother, Joe and wife, Elizabeth (Slabik) Neiber, brother in law, John Griggs and grandsons, Jim and Larry Harak.
Visitation will be held Friday, February 22, 2013 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm with a prayer service starting at 7:00 pm at St. Arnold’s Catholic Church in Milnor, ND. Funeral mass will be at 11:00 am, Saturday, February 23, 2013, at St. Arnold’s Catholic Church conducted by Father Leonard Loegering. Interment will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, rural west of Milnor, ND following the funeral.