Obituary for Karen R. Swenson

Karen Swenson, 78, of Northfield, MN, died Wednesday, October 23, 2019, in her home. Karen Rose Martig was born on February 13, 1941 to Leo and Lavina (Nobs) Martig in Berne, MN. She grew up on the family farm and attended District Three Country School until eighth grade. She then transferred to West Concord High School, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1959. Karen attended St. Olaf for one year and then worked at the Mayo Clinic as an EKG technician. In 1961, she married William R. Clifford (later they divorced) and were blessed with two children. […]

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Karen Swenson, 78, of Northfield, MN, died Wednesday, October 23, 2019, in her home.

Karen Rose Martig was born on February 13, 1941 to Leo and Lavina (Nobs) Martig in Berne, MN. She grew up on the family farm and attended District Three Country School until eighth grade. She then transferred to West Concord High School, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1959. Karen attended St. Olaf for one year and then worked at the Mayo Clinic as an EKG technician.

In 1961, she married William R. Clifford (later they divorced) and were blessed with two children. The following years, they lived in various towns in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. During that time, she completed her degree in Elementary Education at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. In 1972, her family returned to Minnesota, where they purchased Waterford Oil Co. in Northfield. That same year, she began teaching in the Northfield School District, and, in 1979, she received her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota. She retired in 2003, after almost 30 years in education.

In 1984, she married William F. Elmers, and they made their home in Northfield. They traveled and biked to many places in the United States and Europe. Together, they raised two grandchildren and enjoyed many activities with them. William died in 1993 of prostate cancer.

Karen met Curt Swenson in 1999, when he volunteered in her classroom; a deep friendship grew, and five years later they were married. Together they have enjoyed many trips around the world and throughout the United States. Their Northfield townhome and Crosslake cabin were joyous gathering places for many friends and their big blended family.

Karen is survived by her husband, Curt, of Northfield; children, Shari (Al) Wadleigh and Keith Clifford; granddaughters, Cassie (Charlie) Hayes, Alex Clifford (Grant Thomas), Randie Clifford, Laura Wadleigh, and Rachel Wadleigh; great-granddaughter, Odette Hayes; step-grandchildren, Sarah (Dan) Karrow and Fabian Elmers; sister, Evelyn (Bill) Donald; brother-in-law, Ted Johnson; step-children, Elise Sanders, Stephen (Claudia) Swenson, Charles (Robyn) Swenson, Paul (Alice) Swenson, Matilda Moore, Sarah Margaret Berry, Bess (Mike) Sprinkle, and David Elmers; step-great-grandchildren, Sophia, Alex, and Giulia Karrow, and Harper Sanders; step-grandchildren, Eric, Alex, Ellen, Elise, Andrew, and Rachel Swenson, Phoebe, Max (Sarah), and Fay Sanders, Neill Berry, Benjamin Sprinkle, Billy, Grace, and Peter Elmers; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

Karen was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Lavina Martig; children’s father, William R. Clifford; second husband, William F. Elmers; sisters, Joanne (Dan) Trainor and Marylee Johnson; and stepson, William F. Elmers Jr.

Memorial service will be at 11 AM, Tuesday, October 29, 2019, in St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 Third St. W., Northfield, with a visitation one-hour prior. Interment will be at Oaklawn Cemetery, Northfield, on a later date.

Memorials preferred to the Mayo Clinic Foundation Research, Department of Development, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN, 55905, or the St. John’s Foundation, 500 Third St. W., Northfield, MN, 55057.

Arrangements are with Benson & Langehough Funeral Home, Northfield.

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Funeral

October 29, 2019 - 11:00 AM


Visitation One Hour Before Service
St. John’s Lutheran Church
500 3rd St W Northfield, 55057 Get Directions

Burial

Burial

Oaklawn Cemetery
1415 Wall Street Rd Northfield, 55057 Get Directions

4 Comments

  1. Nina & Keith Pumper

    I’m so sorry to hear this! Prayers to the family.

    Reply
  2. Kelley Erickson

    So very sorry. A very special woman.

    Reply
  3. bess sprinkle

    Karen was a life saver for my father Bill Elmers & my niece & nephew Sarah Karrow & Fabian Elmers when they most needed her full, loving heart and soul. Thank you, Karen.

    Reply
  4. MaryLee Thamert

    So sorry for your loss, my condolences.

    Reply

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