Thelma Ellingson, 97, once of Hesper

Thelma O. Ellingson died Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at the Aase Haugen Home in Decorah. 

Thelma Othilda Stoen was born March 23, 1921, the Wednesday of Holy Week, in Spring Grove, the daughter of Henry J. and Martina (Sollien) Stoen. She was baptized April 17, 1921, and confirmed June 3, 1935, both at Big Canoe Lutheran Church, rural Decorah. Her great-great-grandfather, Halsten Stoen, had emigrated from Norway in 1850 and homesteaded in Pleasant Township, donating the land on which the original church and cemetery were located.

She grew up several miles east of Big Canoe and walked from her farm home to attend the Bigler School. After that she graduated from the Decorah High School and attended Luther College to obtain a teacher’s license. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, she taught in the Grindeland, Bigler and Rotvold schools in Hesper and Pleasant Townships, Winneshiek County.

On July 25, 1945, she and Erven O. Ellingson were united in marriage at Big Canoe Lutheran Church. This was just 15 days after he had returned to the United States after serving over three years in the European theatre of World War II.

The newlyweds farmed with his parents, Anton and Ida (Hanson) Ellingson, on the Iowa River east of Sattre in Allamakee County until late 1946, when they moved to Hesper Township. In 1956, they became, and remained, members of Hesper Lutheran Church.

Mrs. Ellingson was a Sunday school teacher, member of Ladies Aid (later the Women of the ELCA) and of a women’s circle at church, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary. Above all, she was a wife and mother, actively engaged in farming with her husband and family. She was well known for her hospitality, home-cooked meals, home-baked bread, and cookies.

Survivors include four daughters, Elaine (John) Hafertepe of Richfield, Minn., Ruth (Leon) Kosek of Bloomington, Minn., Janet Olson of St. Louis Park, Minn., and Mary (Jeffrey) Ott of Rockford, Iowa; two sons, the Rev. Wayne (Irmgard) Ellingson and Robert (Jan Suzanne) Ellingson of Decorah; ten grandchildren, Gregg (Michelle) Ellingson, Michael (Jocelyn) Hafertepe, Kathryn (Gareth) Sykes, Tina (Kris) Barness, Matthew (Marie) Ott, Mary (Ricky) Brown, David (Jill) Ellingson, Angela Ellingson, Dr. Bradley (Danielle) Ellingson, and Jennifer (Brandon) Umscheid; 19 great-grandchildren, Alex and Kira Ellingson; Isabella and Cassandra Hafertepe; Edmund Sykes; Bradan and Brody Darling; Brock Bullerman; Grace and Emily Ott; Anna, Tyler and Charles Brown; Brock, Zane, Cade and Kya Ellingson; and Julian and Connor Umscheid; one brother, Herbert Stoen of Decorah; a special niece, Kathy Stoen of Decorah; and nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Erven, in 2003; twin stillborn grandsons, Nathan and Patrick Ott, in 1985; her son-in-law, Brian J. Olson, in 2018; her brothers and sisters-in-law, Sophus and Palma Stoen, Raymond and Darlyne Stoen and Kathryn Stoen; and her brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Tilvina and Elmer Bigler, Myrtle and Lester Bigler, Irene and Oscar Tilleros, Arnold and Viola Ellingson, Julius Ellingson, Clifford and Eleanor Ellingson, Bernice and Harold Byrnes, Harold Opheim, Duane Wedo and Helen and Donald Bergan.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, March 16, at Hesper Lutheran Church, with the Rev. Matt Larson officiating. Interment was in the Hesper Lutheran cemetery. 

The Mengis Funeral Home in Mabel is assisting with arrangements. 

In lieu of flowers, plants, statuary, benches and all styles of gifts, the family would prefer memorials to be directed to the Hesper Lutheran Cemetery or to the Hesper Lutheran Church. 

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