ABBOTSFORD, Wis. — The Rev. Albert “Al” E. Houts, 79, of Abbotsford passed away surrounded by his loving family Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, at his residence under the tender care of hospice.

Al was born Feb. 7, 1938, in Rice Lake, Wis., the son of Robert and Nadine (Frasier) Houts. He graduated from Rice Lake High School and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Al taught English in Gaylord, Mich., and Brainerd, Minn. He then graduated from Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa and served parishes in Decorah, Iowa, Black River Falls and Iola. Al then was called to be an interim pastor in Edgar and Neillsville, before retiring from Trinity Lutheran Church in Unity, in 2017.

On Aug. 24, 1958, Al was united in marriage to Ruth Molter. She preceded him in death May 27, 2013. On Jan. 12, 2014, he was united in marriage to Janice Bunkelman (Kalepp) at Trinity Lutheran Church in Unity.

Al enjoyed taking canoe trips to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota and volunteering at the High Ground in Neillsville. He also was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan, former member of the Lions Club and a voracious reader. Al, most importantly, cherished his family.

Al is survived by his wife, Janice Bunkelman-Houts of Abbotsford; four children, Rachael (Dave) Drew, Birchwood, Minn., Bob (Jackie) Houts of Owen, Scott (Debby) Houts of Omro and Becky (Steve) Markee of Black River Falls; two additional stepchildren, Russell (Sheri) Bunkelman and Cindy (Randy) Wiskerchen of Stratford; nine grandchildren, Aubrey (Mike) Schroeder, Ashley (Ben) Heiser, Laura Drew, Evan Drew, Aaron Drew, Taylor (Derek) Joswiak, Hayden Houts, Savannah Markee and Madison Markee; six stepgrandchildren, Brandon (Amanda) Bunkelman, Garett (Katie) Bunkelman, Macey Bunkelman, Tony (Aneesa) Balz, Tanner Balz and Cole Hoffman; two great-grandchildren, Grace and Jolene Heiser; three stepgreat-grandchildren, Aubrey Bunkelman, Taven and Piper Balz. He is further survived by his sister, Barbara Stern of Rock Falls, Ill.; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Nadine; and his first wife, Ruth.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Christ Lutheran Church in Abbotsford. The Rev. Donald Bruce will officiate. Family and friends are welcome from 9 a.m. until time of service Tuesday at the church. The Maurina-Schilling Funeral Home in Abbotsford is entrusted with the arrangements.

Family and friends may express condolences online at


the life of: The Rev. Albert 'Al' E. Houts
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