Harriet Opdahl, 88, Albert Lea

Published 12:18 pm Saturday, September 11, 2010

Funeral services for Harriet (Sanders) Rhiger Opdahl, will be at the First Baptist Church in Albert Lea, Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 10:30 a.m. The Rev. Clayton Balsley will officiate. Visitation will be held on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bonnerup Funeral Home and one hour before the service at the church. Internment service will be at Hillcrest Cemetery immediately following the service. A brief Eastern Star service will be held at 4 p.m. Monday at the funeral home. All are welcome to attend.

Harriet Opdahl

Harriet died peacefully at the Good Samaritan Home on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010.

Harriet was a lifetime resident of Albert Lea, born October 15, 1921, to N. Vere and Hazle (Gardner) Sanders. She graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1938 and served as class president her senior year.

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On Sept. 15, 1940, she was united in marriage to Arthur H. Rhiger at the Sanders family home. They made their home in Albert Lea and were married for 32 years before Arthur passed away on Nov. 23, 1972. On Dec. 28, 1974, Harriet married Donald L. Opdahl at the Lime Creek Lutheran Church in Emmons. Donald passed away unexpectedly on July 24, 1996.

Harriet has been a baptized member of the First Baptist Church in Albert Lea since 1934. She was a member of the Halcyon Chapter No. 21 Order of Eastern Star for 70 years, serving as a past matron; a member and past president of the Sarah A. Higgins Past Matrons Club; a member and past president of Welberlyn District Past Matrons Club and a past guardian of Job’s Daughters Bethel No. 33. Harriet served on the board of the Freeborn County Historical Society, she was a current member of the Naeve Hospital Auxiliary and a 50-year member of the American Legion Women’s General Auxiliary.

Harriet was an active participant in the family’s Sanders’ Drug Store for over 30 years. She managed the Lea College Bookstore from August 1968 to October 1972 and loved being a part of the lives of so many Lea College students. In April 1973 she was employed by School District 241 and was secretary and administrative assistant to Tom Mullen in the Districts’ Audio-Visual Office until her retirement in 1983. This was a very memorable time for her.

Harriet enjoyed many great years going to Camp WaWa on Blake’s Lake, Polk County, Wis. with family and friends. She and Art enjoyed ice fishing up on Mille Lac Lake, playing bridge, scrabble and dominoes. She and Don were very fortunate to have shared many years wintering in Peoria, Ariz., after their retirement.

Harriet treasured the relationship she had with her only grandson, Erin John. When Erin married she was especially proud to have Kim as her new granddaughter. Erin and Kim blessed her with a great-granddaughter and great-grandson. Harriet especially enjoyed spending Christmas of 2009 with her great-grandchildren, Evelyn and Ryan.

She is survived by her children William A. Rhiger and his wife Patricia of Cameron, Wis., daughter Ann C. O’Neal and her husband Craig of Eden Prairie, grandson Erin J. O’Neal and his wife Kimberly and two great-grand children Evelyn Kaye and Ryan James of Everett, Wash. She is also survived by her brother Andrew G. Sanders (Ruth), brother-in-law Andrew Roger Rhiger (Inge), sisters-in-law Barbara Rhiger, Alice Liane, Berna Nelson (Jack), Norma Jones, Ann Jeanette Lee (Bernard). She is also survived by several cousins and many nieces and nephews.

Harriet was preceded in death by her husbands, Art and Don, parents N. Vere and Hazle G. Sanders, sisters Justine Esse and Dorothy Smith, brothers-in-law Kenneth Esse and Hershel Smith and nephew Brian Sanders, and niece Julie (Esse) Mussman. Arthur’s parents Holbeck and Britha Rhiger, brothers-in-law Selmer Rhiger, Harold Rhiger, Stanley Rhiger and Wendell Liane. Sisters-in-law Abby Rhiger and Leona Rhiger. Donald’s parents Albert and Tilda Opdahl, brothers-in-law A.Truman Opdahl and Paul Jones.

Harriet had a fun-loving spirit and a witty sense of humor. She will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered. Harriet was a very proud member of the International Association of Turtles since 1969. She had a passion for recruiting new members. You might have been asked by her “Are you a turtle?”

Her family would like to thank the staff of the Albert Lea Good Samaritan Home where she has resided the past four years and four months. The special care and concern everyone at Station No. 4 lovingly provided to Harriet has been much appreciated. Knowing she was surrounded by so many wonderful people has always given us a great sense of peace and thankfulness. You have become a part of our lives. The family also would like to thank the many Crossroads Community Hospice “Hospitality” ladies for their helpful assistance and compassion during her time in the hospice program.

The family prefers memorials to the First Baptist Church, The Freeborn County Historical Society, Crossroads Community Hospice or an organization of the donors choice.