Helen Oftedahl Hoeper

Published 1:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Helen Oftedahl Hoeper passed away Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin.

“Today there is ringing in praise of God,

Bells are a-chiming

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Who opens the door will by Him be blessed

With mercy and life and refreshing rest.”

A heart thrilling joy for Helen was singing with over 400 others from Lutheran church choirs at St. Olaf College. Helen said, “We were high in the bleachers of the gym. Way down, on the floor of the gym, stood F. Melius Christianson, with no music and no baton. This beautiful man, with his white curly hair, famous composer/arranger, took us through those bells ringing, with swellings and fading, directing this huge choir with only his arms and radiant face. Everyone could hear and feel the bells chiming.”

Years later, Helen wished she could understand (back in 1938) the Scriptural meaning of “who opens the door?” But, about 10 years later, Helen “opened the door” of her heart, asking the Blessed Lord Jesus to come in, and he did. Old things passed away, everything became new, especially music.

During their youth, Helen and two friends formed a trio, calling themselves The Swinging Sisters — singing the popular music of that era. But, for Helen, “old things” passed away. She found a great love for singing and listening to hymns, gospel music and anthems.

She will be waiting for her husband, Ralph; her two sons and wives, David and Carla, and Peter and Lisa; three grandsons and wives, Joshua and Nicole, Adam, and Justin and Phalen Stang; one granddaughter and her husband, Lisa and Brent Radford; and 11 great-grandchildren, all so precious to Helen. She will also be waiting for three nephews, two nieces and good friend and sister-in-law, Carla Oftedahl, Duane’s wife.

To all of you and the few cousins she is leaving on Earth, Helen shares a favorite old hymn lyric: “Jesus paid it all/All to Him I owe/ Sin had left a crimson stain/He washed it white as snow.”

Waiting to greet Helen will be her parents Bardenes “Ben” and Berthe (Bakka) Oftedahl; three brothers, Paul, Duane and Boyd — who passed away at age 5 in 1924; one sister, Karen Shreiner; and one sister-in-law, Vonnie Oftedahl, Paul’s wife.

Helen’s family wishes to sincerely thank and express deep gratitude to Marlene Ohm, special friend to Helen; and the many fine residents and colleagues at St. Mark’s Living in Austin during her time at St. Mark’s Apartments, the Austin emergency responders and the wonderful care provided by Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin during her final hours.

Per Helen’s wishes, there will be a private burial Wednesday in Lakewood Cemetery in Albert Lea, with Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home assisting the family with arrangements.