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Helen Holstad, 1927-2019

Helen M. Holstad, 92, of Lake Mills died Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, at Lake Mills Care Center.

Helen Holstad

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Emmons Lutheran Church, 490 Pearl St. in Emmons. The Rev. David E. Schafer will officiate. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church Saturday. Cremation will take place after the service. Burial of the ashes will be at a later date in Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Lake Mills.

Helen Mae (Bjelland) Holstad was born Jan. 6, 1927, in  rural Joice, Iowa, to John and Esther (Hanson) Bjelland. She was blessed to have an older brother, Thayne. Helen was baptized by the Rev. O.R. Sletten and confirmed by the Rev. Joseph L. Knutson at Salem Lutheran Church in Lake Mills.

She attended Country School District 4 in Silver Lake Township for grades first through eighth and graduated from Lake Mills High School  with the class of 1944. She always loved music, playing piano for many events in school and percussion in the band.

On March 24, 1946, Helen married Virgil Holstad at Salem Lutheran Church. The Rev. Howard Blegan officiated. They were blessed with three daughters: Vonice Marie, Julie Ann and Amy Jo. Helen and Virgil spent their life farming together — initially on three different farms by Emmons and one by Round Prairie Church until they purchased what they called the “farm on the hill” in rural Twin Lakes in 1963. They moved to Lake Mills in 2007.

Helen actively participated in their dairy farm, and even had her own special John Deere tractor. Two things that brought her great joy on the farm were being outside mowing their large yard and maintaining her garden.

Community was an important part of her life, being involved in circles, ladies aid and was the church organist at Round Prairie Lutheran Church for over 44 years. She accompanied many singing ensembles and played for numerous weddings and also had a large number of piano students for many years — two of which are now organists themselves.

Grandma Helen enjoyed passing on many traditions to her family, including freezing corn, canning tomato soup, making lefse and popcorn balls. No Christmas was complete without her Swedish meatballs and special cheese ball. She always had goulash and apple pie in her freezer for when company dropped by.

Special times in their lives were spent playing cards with friends and grandchildren. Both Helen and Virgil loved square dancing and ballroom dancing and enjoyed the fellowship with those friends for many years. Many miles were traveled in their motorhome with either one driving. They were snowbirds to Texas, Arizona and California from 1990 to 2008. The couple also traveled to Norway twice, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The highlight of their life was a family trip to Norway and Sweden to the ancestral farm in 2005.

Helen Mae was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She was joyful, hardworking and humble, with God and family at the center of her life.

She is survived by her husband, Virgil, of Lake Mills; two daughters, Julie (Arlow) Rugland of rural Northwood and Amy (Roger) Olson of Lake Mills; son-in-law, Loren Stene, of St. Ansgar, Iowa; grandchildren Jon (Tara) Stene of Zumbrota, Erich (Julie) Stene of Lake Mills, Andrew (Kendra) Stene of Lake Mills, Amber (John) Pearson of rural St. Charles, Benjamin (Anna) Stene of Lake Mills, Jessica Rugland of Chaska, Kristoffer (Addie) Rugland of rural Northwood, Chad Rugland of Mason City, Katie Olson of Minneapolis and Jack Olson of Rochester; 14 great-grandchildren; and siblings-in-law Ellen Bjelland, Dean (Senora) Holstad, Mavis Bergo, Eva (Milt) Haroldson and Jerry (Dorothy) Holstad.

Helen is preceded in death by her parents John and Esther Bjelland; parents-in-law John and Edith Holstad; brother, Thayne Bjelland; daughter, Vonice Stene; son-in-law, John Rygh; and brother-in-law, Ernie Bergo.

Online condolences may be left at www.mittelstadtfuneralhome.com.