Harold “Holly” Rausch, age 95, of Nashua, Iowa, died Sunday, June 20, 2021, at his home.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Hugeback Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory – Olson Chapel in Nashua, with Rev. Drew McHolm officiating.
Interment will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery, Nasha with Robert Rausch, Margaret Rausch, Mark Moine, Drew Moine, Larry Prohaska, Clay Winowiecki, and Lynn Schluter serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers are Dick White, Harold Begeman, and Ron Ulrichs.
Friends may greet the family from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, 2021, at Hugeback Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory – Olson Chapel in Nashua. Visitation continues an hour prior to the service at the Funeral Home on Thursday.
Holly Rausch’s long and remarkable life began on March 12, 1926, when he was welcomed into the world by his parents, Edwin and Laura Rausch, in New Hampton.
His family lived in Waterloo until he was 4 before moving to the Nashua area, where Holly attended school, helped out around the farm, made plenty of friends, and landed a part-time job at the post office while he was in high school.
Holly turned 18 in 1944, and he knew the chances that he would be drafted into the service were high, so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. As he said years later in a newspaper interview, by enlisting, he could at least pick the branch of service. He attended basic training in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and was assigned to the USS Franklin, an aircraft carrier nicknamed “Big Ben.”
He served as a mail carrier on the Franklin, a ship that went to hell and back in the Pacific. Three times, Big Ben was hit by Japanese kamikaze pilots, but the worst attack it suffered came a week after Holly turned 19 when Big Ben was hit by two armor-piercing bombs while it was launching aircraft to bomb the Japanese mainland. More than 800 sailors died during the attack, and Holly, like the rest of the survivors, not only made sure their ship didn’t sink but tended to the wounded and identified the dead.
March 19, 1945, was a defining moment in the life of Holly, for he learned the true meaning of “freedom is not free.” Years later, he refused to ever say “I’m having a bad day” because he knew what a real “bad day” looked like.
After the war, he received his honorable discharge and moved back to Nashua, where he met a beautiful young gal named Ruby Schluter. He asked her to join him for coffee a few times, they began dating, fell in love, and were married on Dec. 10, 1950, in Burlington.
Holly worked as a railway mail clerk in Southeastern Iowa city, and the couple welcomed one child, Stephen, who to this day will tell you that he grew up with a father who epitomized fun. Holly loved spending time with his wife and son, be it at home after work or on family vacations they regularly took.
When the Post Office took the mail “off” the railroad, Holly transferred to Nashua, where he worked for more than 20 years, eventually becoming the city’s postmaster until his retirement in 1985. All told, he dedicated 37 1/2 years — including his time on the Franklin — to making sure the mail got through.
But Holly was much more than a postman. He loved his community and played an active, vibrant role in it. He served on the Nashua City Council for years, he was a longtime member of the VFW, American Legion, Nashua Town, and Country Club, and Lions Club. He also was a Mason and belonged to the National Postmasters Associations.
Holly was, in a word, social. He loved people, and once he met someone, he never forgot them. Sixty years after he last saw someone, he could tell you where they lived, who they were married to, where they worked and how many kids they had. He had a gift for walking up to a perfect stranger, striking up a conversation, and making them feel like they had been lifelong friends.
After he retired, Holly and Ruby traveled even more, and it didn’t matter if he was in Nashua, Europe or Asia, he had the gift of gab and the ability to make anyone — be it his friends of 70 years or someone he met a minute ago — feel like they were important.
He loved his Euchre card games, tending to one of the most beautiful yards in all of Nashua and giving back to his community.
Holly and Ruby celebrated 70 years of marriage — “all to the same woman, too,” Holly joked — this past year, and they were blessed with two grandchildren, Robert and Margaret. Holly adored them both and Margaret’s fiancé, Clay Winowiecki, was definitely an honorary grandchild, too.
Holly remained sharp until the very end, and even as the end neared, he still had that smile and the glint in his eyes that was pure Holly Rausch.
A veteran who served his country with honor, a husband who loved his wife for 70 years, a father who gave his son the gift of time, a grandfather who provided so much fun in his grandchildren’s lives, and a community member who gave so much to the city he called home, Holly will be missed dearly.
The world was indeed a better place for the last 95 years because Holly Rausch was in it; however, his legacy will live on for years to come.
Holly is survived by his wife of 70 years, Ruby Rausch of Nashua, IA; one son, Stephen Rausch of Nashua, IA; two grandchildren, Robert Rausch, Margaret (Clay Winowiecki) Rausch.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Robert & Kenneth Rausch; three sisters, Edna Ashcroft, Ruth Niley, and Effie Rausch.