Obituary for Eulalie Smestad
H. Eulalie Smestad, age 90, of Northfield, Minnesota, passed away on Friday, April 26, at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Helen Eulalie Fagerholt was born March 5, 1929 in Grafton, North Dakota to Albert C. and Clara (Brende) Fagerholt. She was the fourth child and first daughter born to the couple, and her older brothers adored her, nicknaming her “Blondie” and calling her that for the rest of their lives. In the past several years, she and her younger sister Eunice phoned each other every day. Eulalie grew up on the family farm outside Hoople, learning to drive at […]
H. Eulalie Smestad, age 90, of Northfield, Minnesota, passed away on Friday, April 26, at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Helen Eulalie Fagerholt was born March 5, 1929 in Grafton, North Dakota to Albert C. and Clara (Brende) Fagerholt. She was the fourth child and first daughter born to the couple, and her older brothers adored her, nicknaming her “Blondie” and calling her that for the rest of their lives. In the past several years, she and her younger sister Eunice phoned each other every day.
Eulalie grew up on the family farm outside Hoople, learning to drive at age 12 so she could deliver milk to the townspeople. She excelled in school, graduating as valedictorian from Hoople High School in 1947. Eulalie attended Concordia College, where she sang in the Chapel Choir, and after two years transferred to the Fairview Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis. In 1952 she received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing education from the University of Minnesota. Eulalie had many stories about her experiences as a student nurse in different environments, and treasured lifelong connections with her 11 nursing classmates. Her five-year nursing degree was evidence of her enduring quest for knowledge as well as her view of the importance of education.
Eulalie met her future husband, Lowell, while he was a student at Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul. They became engaged in May 1952 and were married at First Lutheran Church in Hoople, North Dakota on August 10, 1952.
Eulalie and Lowell first resided in Mankato, Minnesota, while Lowell served as pastor of Medo Lutheran Church in rural Mapleton. The congregation built a new parsonage for them next to the church, and their daughters Ruth and Gloria were born during that time. Eulalie was one of the first nursing instructors at Mankato State University. Among her duties was to convince other medical facilities in the area to allow the nursing students to do clinical rotations, which was an early example of encouraging cooperation among different facilities.
At Medo, Eulalie was part-time church organist, and worked the night shift at Immanuel St. Joseph Hospital in Mankato. In 1957 the family moved to Orofino, Idaho when Lowell was called to serve Ascension Lutheran Church and Kamiah Lutheran Church, two home mission congregations. Eulalie served as church organist at Ascension and also worked part-time as a nurse at the state hospital in Orofino. She gave birth to their third child, Joanne, in Orofino.
In 1959, the family moved again, to New Richland, Minnesota where Lowell had been called to Trinity Lutheran Church. There Eulalie was again very active in the church, serving as substitute organist, singing in the choir, completing the Bethel Bible Study teachers’ program, and heading up primary education and Vacation Bible school. While the family lived in New Richland, she gave birth to their fourth daughter, Carol, who completed the sisters’ quartet and became the sixth member of the family chorus.
The family moved in 1969 to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota where Lowell was called to Trinity Lutheran Church and where Eulalie taught Sunday school and worked part-time as Director of In-Service Education at the Pelican Valley Health Center and Nursing Home. At the health center, Eulalie was tasked (among other things) with teaching the nursing staff to read EKGs on the town’s first EKG monitor, which required her to take a months-long course to learn to read them herself. As was her norm, she rose to the task.
Lowell and Eulalie fostered the love of music in their daughters, attending innumerable band and choir concerts, and piano recitals, recording many on cassette tape. The tradition of support and encouragement in their activities continued into the next generation of concerts and athletic events.
In 1986, Eulalie and Lowell moved to Northfield, where they lived in retirement. Soon Eulalie returned to work, as a part-time pharmacy technician at a local store, where she worked ten more years before she actually retired. The couple enjoyed several winters in Arizona, reconnecting with numerous Fairview nursing classmates as well as many family members and former parishioners. For her 65th birthday, she requested a computer and in true Eulalie fashion, took classes to learn how to use it. Connecting with her daughters via email became a daily event for many years to come. After Lowell’s death in 2005, she continued to live in her own home until December 2017, remaining active at St. John’s as a leader in the Stephen Ministry, a member of WELCA, and a member of what is now the Ruth Circle. She never failed to greet a new face at church, and often her warm contact resulted in new members of the church. She was also an active member of the Sons of Norway.
In late 2017, Eulalie moved to Millstream Commons and then to Cottage West at Three Links care center in Northfield.
Eulalie was known for her gentle and kind soul, her willingness to help out in any capacity, her to-do lists, her ability to tackle any project, her organizational skills, carrying her camera with her everywhere she went, and the energy she devoted to every task. She was a serious student of whatever subject was at hand, whether it was the Bible, computers, genealogy or chemistry. Connections with her extended family remained of utmost importance to Eulalie as she attended family reunions whenever possible, including in 2017 at Breezy Point Resort near Brainerd. She loved to see new places, traveling throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, the Cayman Islands, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. She traveled internationally into her eighties, attending the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany and visiting many other sites in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria.
Left to treasure her memory are her four daughters, Ruth Smestad Anglin (Ronnie); Gloria Smestad (John Maher); Joanne Claussen (Kurt); and Carol Anderson (Gary); three grandchildren (Lucas Anglin, Justine Maher and Philip Claussen), several cousins, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Lowell, parents, brothers Arthur, Elmo and Leonard, sister Eunice, sisters-in-law Elvina, Ann, Elaine and Elizabeth, nephew John, niece Cheryl, nephew Jay and grand nephew John Jay, and one grandchild (Helene Anglin), as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation will be from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Benson Langehough Funeral Home & Cremation in Northfield on Saturday May 11. Services will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 W. Third Street, Northfield, on Monday, May 13 at 11:00 a.m., with visitation at 10:00 a.m. Memorials are suggested to Park River Bible Camp, Park River, North Dakota; Luther Seminary; St. John’s Lutheran Church music; or donor’s choice.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com