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July 30, 1943 – June 13, 2024

Elmer Dean Abbas passed away on June 13, 2024 at his home in Buffalo, Minnesota sitting next to his wife of 38 years, Carole.

Elmer was born the ninth of ten children on July 30, 1943 in Titonka, Iowa to Ted and Lena (Hundt) Abbas.

He grew up in rural Iowa where he helped with his older brother’s trucking business. He washed trucks as a young boy, and in later years drove trucks to help pay for his undergraduate degree in Business Education. In 1976 Elmer and his first wife moved to Buffalo, Minnesota with their two children, Chris and Jen. During that time he pursued his Master’s in Special Education. After his relationship with his first wife ended, Elmer reconnected with his faith and deepened his personal relationship with Jesus. Elmer met Carole at a church group in 1983. They developed a friendship, fell in love, and were married on June 14, 1986. Together they had Liz, and Elmer adopted Carisa. He also gained two step children, John and Jacob, to add to their blended family.

Elmer taught at Hopkins school district for 28 years. He finished his teaching career at the Buffalo Alternative Learning Center and worked at Functional Industries helping people with disabilities find employment.


In 1991 Elmer started Buffalo Golfmaster’s Driving Range. The driving range started out as a business to fill his summers, and it turned into a place where people came to relax and often would sit at the picnic table for hours sharing and praying with Elmer.

As Elmer’s beard turned white, many started to refer to him as Santa. For over 20 years Elmer was a well-loved Santa throughout Minnesota, and even had a national story feature on Good Morning America. He was uniquely equipped with his gentle spirit and twinkling eyes to comfort children of all abilities so that they could experience the spirit of Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth.


In 2014, Elmer and Carole’s home in Buffalo was lost in a house fire, and the community rallied around them. Instead of rebuilding a house, they transformed the existing red brick barn into their home, finding beauty from ashes.


Elmer saw beauty in things and people that others may have passed by. Elmer was an artist, he created wire masterpieces, most notably, he crafted Jesus pins, cursive pins with the name of Jesus. Elmer made thousands of Jesus pins, he often would carry wire and pliers in his pocket so he could make pins wherever he went, gifting them along the way. Elmer was a collector of many things including books. Above all other hobbies, Elmer’s passion was reading scripture daily. During his 47 years as a Christian, Elmer read through the entire Bible each year. It is from scripture he learned to love unconditionally, to forgive freely, and to have a peace that passes all understanding. Elmer’s greatest desire was for those around him to feel known and loved, and his ultimate goal was to show us God’s love and point us in the direction of Jesus.


Elmer is survived by his wife, Carole Abbas, his children Chris (Kelly) Abbas, Jen (Niels) de Jong, John (Mary) Schulke, Jacob (Meghan Casey) Schulke, Carisa (Andy) Rasmussen, Liz (Chris) Burd, plus 10 grandchildren. Elmer is survived by one brother, Ted (Sandy) Abbas and one sister, Margery Asche and sister-in-laws Mary and Janice Abbas and brother-in-law Greg Arrowood. Elmer was preceded in death by his parents, Ted and Lena Abbas; siblings, Harold (Louise) Abbas, Arlene (Robert) Pate, Christina (Robert) Christen, John Abbas, Delbert Abbas Derold (Ruby) Abbas, Judy Abbas Arrowood, and brother-in-law Faye Asche.


Services will be held at Buffalo Covenant Church on Saturday, June 22, 2024. Visitation at 1 p.m., funeral at 2 p.m. with reception to follow. Interment to follow reception at 4:30 PM at Swedish Mission Cemetery.  We invite you to wear your Jesus pin, if you have one, a Hawaiian shirt as Elmer often wore, or a joyful color.


8 Guestbook Entries

  1. Adrienne Wojciak

    I Can’t imagine losing a dad…losing a grandpa is so so sad. Don’t cry for him though…he is in his next chapter and it’s glorious. Cry for you though…

  2. Heath Nelson

    I knew Elmer When I was a kid, I would go out to the golf range, I really got to know him when he and Carol decided to turn their barn into their home. I got to do the electrical work for them.
    Elmer was always putting his faith first everyone that encountered him knew that he loved Jesus Christ. That relationship with his Heavenly Father was shown throughout his life as he impacted many people. He always had a way of getting through situations peacefully with kind words.
    As a Christian, the goal is to be as much like Christ as possible and it was clear that that was Elmer‘s goal. I believe that Christ Has said to Elmer well done my good and faithful servant.
    It was an honor to have known him.
    God bless your family.

  3. Tom Hoffman

    Elmer was a man of integrity. I so treasured him as a brother in the Lord, Jesus. He taught me a lot about what it is to be a Christian and to show others the face of Jesus.

    You did well, Elmer – a true icon for the community of Buffalo.

    I know where you now live, and it gives me great joy.

  4. Bev Johnson

    Elmer will be missed.

  5. Bev Johnson

    Elmer will be missed!

  6. Stephen Edmonson

    I am striving to imitate Jesus on this earth, Elmer Abbas was a great model for all of us! He is in such a great and peaceful place right now, and his mansion is awesome!

  7. Patrick Trueman

    I am deeply saddened to hear of the loss of my good friend Elmer, whose unwavering spirituality touched everyone he met. His engaging smile was ever-present, and I can never picture him without that warm, caring smile. He was a joy to be around, bringing warmth and kindness to all our lives. He will be greatly missed.

  8. Rev. Richard Sudlik

    Elmer knew the golf swing but more important he knew the Lord Jesus. He would help with your swing and more important would proclaim Jesus. I will miss him and his concern for Christ the King Retreat Center. He always wanted to know how things were going.


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