Stella Pederson
Stella Pederson

Obituary of Stella Mary Pederson

Prologue Written by Granddaughter, Sheri Wright I had the unique privilege of being one of many loving people to help to care for my grandmother in her final days and I was fortunate to be present at her bedside in the last minutes of her life. It was during this time that I fully came to understand the woman she was, the love she held for her family, and the strength she had to carry on even in life’s most difficult moments. In this eulogy you will hear the words like faith, courage, love, determination, worthiness and family commitment These were the theme of her life from the beginning until the very end. I also had the opportunity several years ago to document many of her life stories, her likes, her dislikes and favorite memories which were all written in her own words. I am grateful to be able to share those with you today. The following is the story of my grandmother’s life. It was written for her in loving tribute by her family. It is not a story of a saint or a person without flaws, but a story of a woman who lived and loved to the best of her abilities and who strived to provide a better life for her family than she ever had for herself. Please click on the link below to watch video tribute: The Life of Stella Mary Pederson On November 9, 2007, at 3:30 PM Stella Mary Pederson passed on to her heavenly home. She died while in the embrace of her children and grandchildren. She left this world with quiet dignity, a peaceful mind, and a joyful expectation of the afterlife. Stella was born on May 10th, 1920, on the family farmstead home in Cavalier County near Langdon, North Dakota to Frank and Elizabeth Loreth. My grandmother told me that baking was her fondest memory of her mother. It was her mother that taught her how to cook, how to make bread and how to use a sewing machine. My grandmother loved crocheting and did so throughout her life. She learned this skill from her mother Elizabeth and tried to unsuccessfully pass it along to her granddaughters. Grandma Stella made slippers for her children, grandchildren, family members and friends. They were thick and warm and made with love, even though the colors she used in her older years didn’t always match. Late in life, it was her mission to make a crocheted afghan for each of her children and grandchildren. There were very few tasks that my strong-minded German grandmother did not complete once decided to do it. Today each one of us has to pleasure of adorning our homes with a beautiful afghan. My grandmother told me her father was very strict. He insisted that everyone in the family wear nice clothes to church. When I was a young child, my grandma Stella, would make me change out of my play clothes to go to the store with her, which I found not only inconvenient, but I HATED to do. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would understand that this annoying but endearing trait was passed down to her from her father. Throughout her life, my grandmother would be passionate about her appearance and that of her family, their clothing and even how they lived their lives. It was often viewed by the rest of us as a sometimes a blessing, but often a curse. My Grandma told me a story about how her father Frank didn’t like her to wear red fingernail polish. However, if I had to guess, I would suppose that it didn’t stop her from wearing it. My grandmother could be stubborn. It is a family trait that my husband says I carry from her. She corrected him once and told him that we weren’t stubborn we were just DETERMINED. She could be very, very determined. My grandmother learned to dance from her father. He taught her how to waltz, schottish & polka. When she was a young girl she wanted to be a dancer. At the county fairs there were dancing girls that she thought were glamorous. Based on the red fingernail polish, I assume my great-grandfather Frank would not have supported that idea. My grandmother learned to play cards from both of her parents, who loved to play whist. I play this game with my father and our family. Just like my grandmother, we really dislike losing. And just like my grandmother, we don’t really like to admit it. Stella was the 6th child and the 2nd daughter of Frank and Elizabeth Loreth. She was preceded in birth by John, Charlie, Rose and Stanley. She was followed in birth by Bennie, Julia, Frank, Helen, Minnie, Vivian, Raymond, Florence, Edna, and Victor. My grandmother grew up in a 3 bedroom, 2-story house in a very large Catholic family. Life with fifteen brothers and sisters was not easy and the family struggled with many hardships. She didn’t have nice new clothes and mostly wore hand-me-downs. She didn’t have many other friends, because she was busy with helping on the farm and would spend time mostly with her bothers and sisters. But, it was these years that would influence my grandmother’s character. These years taught her the skills she would carry through life like; cooking, baking, cleaning, raising children; sewing and even is probably where she first learned to curse. Which she liked to do on occasion, usually with impeccable timing, and to the avid objections of her husband Jasper. This family home would shape her love of family and large family dinners. In her late years she became an avid collector of “pretty dishes” which overflowed from many china cabinets. Her linen drawers were stuffed full of all kinds of clean and pressed items from hand-embroidered pillowcases to table linens to doilies that she personally crocheted. Stella attended a one-room schoolhouse in Cavalier County. She carried a Kayro syrup can for a lunch pail. The family could only afford to send five children to school at a time. The family took a horse and buggy to school. Stella only attended school until third grade, which was something that would continually bother and one more thing this determined and courageous woman would manage to overcome later in life. My grandmother’s lack of education was something that would haunt her all of her life. It was her mission to ensure that all of her children did well in school and even graduated High School. It was not always something she always handled gently. I am told that one of her happiest days was when her youngest child (my Uncle Wayne) graduated from High School. She was ahead of her time in believing that education was the path to a better life and opportunities. And for someone that didn’t have any more than a 3rd grade education, she managed to see several children and many grandchildren attend and graduate from college. My grandmother was actually a very shy and timid child. With so many bothers and sisters already, she did not have many friends in school. She told tell me stories of how she cried there and would be asked to leave school. My grandmother’s shyness and fear of criticism would be one of her largest obstacles, which would continue to challenge her in aspects of her life including her relationships with her children and her family and friends. I do believe that by the time it got to her grandchildren though, that my grandmother had overcome it. Grandma was anything but shy with us. The minute we entered her home she would grab a hold of us and squeeze us until we thought we would pop. She would want to be right next to us and would shower us with kisses and goodies from the freezer and would always have something fun planned to do for the day, whether it was baking cookies or doing crafts. In her early years, Stella attended St. Alphinsis Catholic Church. In those days, women had to wear a hat to church. Stella would recount that she would have to go to confession for fighting with her siblings or cursing. Like most “good Catholics” in her day, every Friday she skipped meat and ate egg sandwiches at mealtime. Throughout her adult life my grandmother was an active member of the Lutheran church community. She faithfully attended worship services, practiced an abiding faith in the promises made to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and gave enthusiastically to church congregations at; South Pembina Lutheran Church in Vang, North Dakota, Peever Lutheran Church in Peever, South Dakota, Trinity Lutheran Church in Alberta, Minnesota, First Lutheran Church in Morris, Minnesota and St. James Lutheran Church in Seattle Washington. She was also well known by others for her participation in Lutheran Ladies Aid and contributions to the church for those less fortunate. My grandmother’s religious background would remain one of the driving forces of her life. She faithfully attended church, read the bible and prayed. She stresses religious devotion and living a worthy life to her children and grandchildren. And “stress” is putting it lightly. Above her bed was a picture sculpture of Jesus. It was given to her by her mother and was one of her most prized possessions. Her favorite songs were hymns: Amazing Grace and How Great thou Art. One of her biggest challenges early in life was meeting and falling in love with my Lutheran grandfather. They met when she was 16 and while she performed housekeeping and childcare duties for my grandfather’s uncle. She says that he told her he fell in love with her big beautiful blue eyes. They are the same magnificent eyes that my cousin, Tanya has. Even in her final days here on earth she would tell me with a sparkle those same big blue eyes that he was “very very handsome”. Their courtship lasted two years. In those days, it was not common practice to leave the Catholic Church for anther faith and it caused great concern by members of her family whom were of the German Catholic faith. And “concern” is putting it lightly. But, my grandmother was determined, and she was determined to marry my grandfather. He purchased her ring out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. On October 7, 1938, a Lutheran pastor performed their marriage. Within a few years, my grandfathers quiet demeanor, love for my grandmother and aggressive work ethic won the admiration of her family despite their religious differences. This is the first of many examples that you will hear of my grandmother being able to over come an almost impossible situation, persevere and even finally flourish. She was a truly a remarkable woman. My grandmother said that the most difficult part of there marriage was that they were both stubborn. She said best part of the marriage was just being together. Stella says she was a spoiled wife and when she was mad she would “forget to talk to him”. They both enjoyed playing cards. My grandmother told me that her husband, Jasper, liked to skunk her when they played, but that they would beat everyone when they played cards together. Shortly after marrying, the happy couple rented a farm. In 1941, Stella gave birth to their first son Roger Allen. Then in 1944, Stella and Jasper had a second son, Gary Jasper. A year later, Jasper decided that renting a farm was not his called profession. In the pursuit of a new career, Stella and Jasper sold their farm equipment and animals, packed a few remaining possessions and moved to a small house on the Northeast part of Langdon, North Dakota. After trying two other occupations, Jasper found his true vocational calling as a grain elevator manager. In 1949 Jasper was promoted to a management level position and Stella’s family moved to Peever, South Dakota. My grandmother had terrible morning sickness with all four of her children. She told me that my grandfather found this quite amusing. In their marriage it was Jaspers responsibility to earn a living, but it was her responsibility to raise the children. My grandmother was thrilled to have children and be a mother even though she had difficulty at times expressing her love to her children. When I asked her about motherhood she said that her biggest regret was spending too much time on household chores and not enough time playing and cuddling her children. When she was asked about the birth of her children she always remarked that my Uncle Gary was the prettiest baby of them all. While living in Peever, Stella worked through her shyness and blossom into a well know and cherished member of the community. She found great joy in entertaining newfound friends, and was excited to host dinners and parties. Her tables were always beautifully set with sparkling glassware, freshly pressed linens and a bounty of delicious foods and desserts. She became famous in the community for her dinners and parties and received the appreciation and respect of those who came to know her generosity. I understand an invitation to her table was a well sought after commodity. This was quite an accomplishment since in my grandmother’s younger years; her family did not have nice dishes or linens for the table or a bounty of delicious thing to eat. In 1955, Stella and Jasper extended their family with the birth of Wanda Mary, their long awaited daughter. A year later, Stella gave birth to a third son, Wayne Harlan. In 1958, due to new vocation opportunities for Jasper, they moved to Alberta, Minnesota where Stella continued to be involved in family and social activities. She developed a life-long friendship with Lee and Lillian Schultz. In 1964, again following Jasper’s career path, the family moved to Morris, Minnesota. In that same year, to Stella’s joy, her first grandchild, Allen Jay Pederson was born. According to my father, Stella took to grand parenting like a duck takes to water. Much to her delight, an abundance of grandchildren made their appearance. Next, was Sheri Lynn Pederson, born on December 30, 1966, then Erin Margaret Pederson was born on June 16 1976, Tanya Mary Sukert, on September 30, 1977, Carrie Michelle Sukert in 1979, Justin Nelson Pederson in March 17, 1982 and finally Julie Candace Pederson in July 5th, 1983. Stella was a loving grandmother who delighted in spending time with all of her grandchildren. She shared time with us doing many crafts like making sand candles, dipping wire in liquid plastic to make little flowers, making Christmas ornaments and even in her later years sitting with us doing scrap booking and other craft projects. She loved to recount amusing stories of our parents and her life, some of which we would hear over and over and over again. And of course we always asked to tell the stories of when they misbehaved. She would always say that her children were well behaved and never caused her too much trouble. But every once in awhile we would get a really good story of my dad misbehaving in church or my Aunt Wanda arriving home late from a date or my Uncle Wayne well, just pulling some funny prank on her or just being Uncle Wayne. On May 5, 1966, at the unexpected death of her husband, Jasper, Stella’s life dramatically changed. She was left to continue parenting and providing for her two pre-adolescent children. In July, at the encouragement of her extended family in Seattle, and with the assistance of her son Roger, his wife Mary, her sister Rose, and her brother-in-law Ruben, Stella and her two children moved to Seattle, Washington. She then began the challenges of overcoming her grief, single parenting, life in an unfamiliar area, and the need to provide for her family despite holding very few employable skills. While working as a telephone sales person at Sears, Stella returned to school. In less than six months, she obtained her GED. Stella’s GED allowed her to improve her financial situation by working for Fisher Mills Flour Company as a mailroom currier. This job involved driving to many areas of Seattle, which was the largest city she had ever driven in. Eventually this company underwent employee down-sizing and Stella was laid off. Never one to sit idly, Stella quickly found new employment in sales at the J.C. Penny’s Seattle South Center Store. After several years of financial struggle, Stella was able to re-experience the joy of owning her own home. This was just another testament to her determination and perseverance under challenging conditions. On October 2, 1986, my grandmother was nationally recognized by the J.C. Penny Company for her outstanding achievements in the area of credit solicitation. It was the proudest moment in her career. Her picture appeared on the cover of the company magazine, YOU, where she was referenced as “the JC Penny Credit Application Queen”. She was showered with the congratulations of her fellow employees, her district manager, and even the company president. She loved her work and especially enjoyed getting to talk to people. She had several friends from work who she continued to see for “Girls Lunch”. She continued her employment at J.C. Penny and despite the objections of her store manager; she retired in 1988 at the age of 68. She loved being retired because it allowed her to spend more time with her family and friends in Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. And, she could also enjoy her numerous hobbies, which included crocheting, knitting, gardening, oil painting, crafts and cooking. My grandmother’s favorite things include: the color blue, a strand of pearls that were a Christmas gift from her husband Jasper and a cup and saucer that belonged to Jaspers parents. Her favorite movie is Gone with the Wind and her favorite actor is John Wayne. Her favorite season is spring. I think her favorite flowers are too numerous to name, but she really does love roses. She loved to work in her flower beds and her favorite time of day is the morning. Her favorite foods are sure to include plenty of butter, cream and sugar. When I asked her to pick, she said that her favorites were perogies, hallupchaus and candy. And as far as the candy was concerned, her Nut Goody bars were probably her favorite. They are my brother, Allen’s favorite as well. He even uses them as a “special treat” for his two young sons. She loved holidays especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a young child on Christmas Eve, her family would eat perogies. As an adult she made these for her children and their families. She taught my cousin Julie how to make them as well. On Christmas Eve my grandmother’s family would go to midnight mass and on Christmas, they would open gifts, which she said were always clothes. As an adult, my grandmother loved giving packages. I think she enjoyed wrapping them even more and would spend hours creasing and taping the paper and making her own bows out of ribbons. On Christmas Day as a child, her family would put up the tree and would string popcorn and cranberries. As an adult, my grandmother loved to decorate her tree with every kind of homemade and store bought decoration and many pretty lights. My grandma’s mother would make a Christmas Fruitcake. She had to save up money all year to buy dried fruit for the cake. My grandmother would make so many goodies for Christmas, we would all spoil our dinner and feel sick. She also loved Thanksgiving. She enjoyed getting out all her pretty dishes to set the table and cook the Turkey. In her family the holiday tradition was to have macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. She told me she liked to putting gravy over both. For our Thanksgivings we loved to make lefse with my Grandmother. She taught many of us how to make it and how to roll the dough. We spent hours together making it with her and at the end, everyone always complained that they didn’t get enough. While being retired, Stella had the added joy of four great grandsons. Jay Cameron Pederson was born on February 13, 1998, Dean Allen Christopher Pederson was born on November 12, 1998, Hunter Nicholi Collins was born on April 22, 2000, and finally Noah Joseph Sorenson on November 11, 2005. Failing health with immense physical pain necessitated the sad realization that Stella could no longer live independently in her own home. With a heavy heart she moved, to Merrill Gardens in Puyallup, Washington and shortly thereafter sold her Fourth Avenue home. Only toward the end of her life my grandmother was finally freed from the concerns of the judgment of others and could easily tell all of her children and grandchildren, “I love you”, “I really love you”. She must have said it hundreds of times in the final days. Stella faced many challenges in her life and her death. She was amazingly brave through all the pain the cancer put her body through. But even then, she told me that the hardest part of leaving this world was that she would miss all of us so much. Her spirit and determination in meeting life “head on” will serve as her legacy and one of the greatest gifts she could leave to her children, their spouses, her grandchildren and their families, and future generations. Grandma in your life and death you have taught us how to live a meaningful life, how to survive the adversities inherent in living, how to overcome life’s obstacles and flourish. Even in your death you taught us how to say love and how to say goodbye. We love you deeply and we will sincerely miss the sparkle in your deep blue eyes, the warmth of your smile, the strength of your loving embraces and the support of your comforting and loving presence. In ending these remarks on my grandmother’s earthly life story, we would like to share the following poem. We believe it to be the philosophy of her life. The poem was found in a small booklet, which was beside her bedside and was inscribed to her by her lifelong friend Lillian Schultz. This poem was written by Helen Steiner Rice and entitled “Climb Until Your Dreams Come True” it can be found on the inside page of your funeral announcement. Often your tasks will be many, And more than you think you can do… Often the road will be rugged And the hills insurmountable too… But always remember, The hills ahead Are never as steep as they seem… And with Faith in your heart start upward… And climb ‘til you reach your dream… For nothing in life that is worthy Is ever too hard to achieve… If you have the courage to try it And you have the Faith to believe… For Faith is a force that is greater Than knowledge or power or skill… And many defeats turn to triumph If you trust in God’s wisdom and will… For Faith is a mover of mountains – There’s nothing that God cannot do… So start out today with Faith in you heart… And “Climb ‘til your dream comes true”! Surviving family members include: Brothers and Spouses & Sisters and Spouses Stanley Loreth, Calloway, Minnesota Judy Illerbrunn, Langdon, North Dakota Helen Metzger, Langdon North Dakota Minnie Metzger, Sumner, Washington Vivian Veer, Sumner, Washington Raymond and Myrdena Loreth, Wenatachee, Washington Florence and Donald Cota, Federal Way, Washington Edna Waslaski, Valley City, North Dakota Victor and Karen Loreth, Sumner, Washington Lila and Wilmer Setran, Seattle, Washington Children and their families Roger and mary Pederson, Elkhart, Indiana Allen and Christine Pederson, Indianapolis, Indiana Jay Pederson, Indianapolis, Indiana Dean Pederson, Indianapolis, Indiana Sheri and Jeffery Wright, Edwardsburg, Michigan Gary Pederson, Sumner, Washington Erin and Joseph Sorensen, Hampton, Virginia Hunter Collins, Hampton, Virginia Noah Sorensen, Hampton, Virginia Mike and Wanda Sukert, Federal Way, Washington Tanya Sukert, Auburn, Washington Carrie Sukert, Auburn, Washington Arrangements by Edwards Memorial Center 253-566-1008
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