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Josepha E. Niehues Altenhofen

Lincoln, Nebraska

03/23/1925 - 10/11/2020

Josepha Emma (Niehues) Altenhofen, 95, passed away on Sunday, October 11, 2020 at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Josepha was born March 23, 1925 on a farm southeast of Kelly, Kansas, the daughter of Bernard Sr. and Mary (Knipper) Niehues. She was the 12th of fifteen children. Josepha attended Kelly Grade School, graduated from Kelly High School in 1942, and attended 1 year at Mt. St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College), Atchison, Kansas.

She worked for various families in Nemaha County, helping with housework and new babies for $10-15 a week.
She met Virgil G. Altenhofen at a monthly Kelly dance and after he served 4 years in the US Army Air Force during WW II, they married April 15, 1948 at St. Bede’s Catholic Church, Kelly.

They worked side by side, operating the Altenhofen Quality Oil Station in Kelly, until Virgil passed away unexpectedly in 1974. Josepha continued operating the service station until she retired in 1991. She was an excellent seamstress, gardener, and baker. She was well known for her decorated sugar cookies, homemade lemon pie, and beautifully decorated wedding cakes.

Josepha moved to Lincoln, NE in 2009 to be closer to her children. She was the “ace” Bingo and pitch player at the Assisted Living Center where she resided until getting ill.

Josepha was a hardworking, determined, and faithful person. Throughout her life, she had to make difficult adjustments and her faith has given her the strength to adapt to difficult circumstances and unwanted changes. After her husband died, Josepha sacrificed without hesitation to ensure both of her children completed college, one to become a veterinarian and the other a physical therapist.

When she suffered a mild stroke and needed to relocate to an assisted living facility, she embraced community life, becoming actively involved in card groups, exercise class, Bingo, and volunteering to work in the facility’s convenience store. In her spare time, she crocheted over 100 preemie blanket/hat sets for babies born at rest at Bryan Hospital. She prided herself in voting in every presidential election since 1944 (FDR vs. Dewey). And she always had a smile!

Josepha definitely lived with purpose and this past year stated “I can’t die yet as I have too many people to pray for”. She said 3 rosaries a day for everyone’s prayer intentions. She was a lifelong member of St. Bede’s Parish and St. Ann’s Altar Society, Kelly.

Josepha was preceded in death by her husband, Virgil (1974) , her mother Mary (1942) and father Bernard (1954), her brothers Bernard Jr., Albert, John, Robert, George, and Edwin and her sisters Agnes Niehues, Sr. Richardis Niehues, OSB, Anna Niehues, Alma Haverkamp, Margaret Boeckman, Evelyn Hutfles, and Erma Niehues and her best friend, Marietta Hodgens (2017).

Josepha is survived by her two children, Dr. Donald Altenhofen of Lincoln, NE and Marilyn (Dr. Paul) Dongilli of Lincoln, NE; Two grandchildren Sophia Dongilli (Fiancé Dr. Joseph Dougherty) of Omaha, NE and Dominic Dongilli of Iowa City, IA; A Sister, Antoinette Hermesch of San Antonio, TX.

Rosaries will be prayed at 2 and 7 P.M. on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at Lauer Funeral Home in Seneca. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 A.M. on Friday, October 16, 2020 at St. Bede’s Catholic Church in Kelly, KS.

Memorials may be given in Josepha’s memory to St. Bede’s Catholic Church and sent in care of the family.

The Family extends heartfelt gratitude to the staffs at The Lexington Assisted Living Center, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, and CHI Hospice for their excellent care during the last years of Josepha’s life.

Masks and Social Distancing required at all services.

Rosaries will be 2 and 7 PM on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at the Lauer Funeral Home in Seneca.

Masks and Social Distancing required at all services.


The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 A.M. on Friday, October 16, 2020 at St. Bede’s Catholic Church in Kelly, KS.

Masks and Social Distancing required at all services.

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  1. Patti Dean on October 11, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    My deepest sympathy to Donald, Marilyn and family in the loss of their beloved Mother and Grandmother. I have so many fond memories of visiting her, Hilda and Lawrence, in Kelly once a month.

    • Bonnie Rettele Scott on October 12, 2020 at 7:47 am

      My deepest sympathy to all of you. My mother,Rosemary Rettele, so enjoyed the bridge playing with your mom and talked about the road trip that her nephew Charles brought her Kelly friends to visit….

      • Rose Wilhelmi on October 12, 2020 at 2:27 pm

        My Deepest sympathy to all of you.. I always remember getting gas there. Such a great family you have.

  2. Eileen Gronniger on October 12, 2020 at 8:05 am

    I remember Josepha and Virgil so well! They were a big part of my life growing up. Deepest sympathies from Eileen (Hutfles) and Damian Gronniger.

  3. Steven Aeschliman on October 12, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Doc, Karen and I send our sympathy during this time of your loss. Praying for peace and comfort. Thinking of you and family.

  4. Dave Niehues on October 14, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Aunt Josepha was one of my favorites. She always had a smile and was genuinely interested in how we were doing. Our family used to stop off at their gas station after church on Sunday and get penny candy. Also, she always carried a supply of Cherry Mash and Nehi pop. Sorry for your family’s loss. I know she will be missed.

  5. Patty Niehues Bolgar on October 15, 2020 at 7:56 am

    Aunt Josepha had that twinkle in her eyes and a beautiful voice. She always smiled and made you happy to be on her presence. We have such good memories of the gas station and our Sunday after church stop for gas and a rare treat. Aunt Josepha made my most beautiful 3 tiered wedding cake. I remember Virgil also as a very kind man and he drove our school bus. When I was a kid he asked me to do the lettering on the school bus. I was so proud. Truly a wonderful family. ♥️

  6. Gerimarie Steinlage on October 15, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Donald and Marilyn, My deepest sympathy. I have so many fond memories of your Mom, the gas station and her flock of sheep!! I remember going to the station on my bike and getting a bottle of pop and visiting with your Mom. There were times that she would have a baby lamb there feeding it and I am sure I went home and asked if I could have a baby lamb:) Loved growing up at Kelly and around so many wonderful people!! May she rest in peace. Sorry I won’t be able to attend her services.

  7. Norbert and Jane Heinen on October 16, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Donald and Marilyn, Wishing you our deepest sympathy. Josepha was such a kind and loving lady. She always had a smile and asked how everyone was feeling. She will be greatly missed by so many of us.

  8. Mary Ann Heinen on October 16, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Dear Donnie & Marilyn, So sorry to learn of your Mom’s passing. Extend my sincere sympathy to you and your family. Watched the funeral service on Kelly Face Book this morning. It is so nice we can attend this kind of service now on the computer. Computer is great. Watching the service, I thought of Rosida today! I liked your Mom! Since Rosida and Josepha were friends, I always knew a lot about your family. Your Mom is one of the last “Kelly Gals”, think these gals, Rosida, Marge, Velma. Hilda and Josepha are catching up on the Kelly gossip. Again, so sorry! It was so nice to see all the Altenhofen this morning!
    Mary Ann Heinen
    A Family Friend!

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