Norma Retrum, daughter of Nelvin and Magda (Ostby) Retrum, was born September 26, 1930, in Swift County, Minnesota. She attended a rural school through 8th grade and then Benson High School, graduating in 1948. During high school, she worked as a nurse's aide at the Swift County Hospital which influenced her decision to become a nurse. She attended Swedish Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1951, and became certified as an R.N. Norma sang in the Swedish Hospital Women's Choir, but long before that she entertained rural Danvers, Minnesota, while singing with her sister as one half of, "The Sunshine Girls".
On June 15, 1952, Norma married Verdie Ellingson. They lived in several communities with their first home in Austin followed by Elkton, Sacred Heart, and Glencoe, Minnesota. She was employed as a nurse at St. Olaf Hospital in Austin for four years and when her children were older, she worked at the Glencoe Hospital. She was actively involved in church, school, and community activities, but her primary focus was always her family and anyone in need. She enjoyed baking, particularly Norwegian favorites like lefse and krumkake, gardening, and canning.
In 1983, Norma and Verdie moved to Moorhead and became members of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Throughout her life, Norma immersed herself in church volunteering, and while at Good Shepherd she became certified in Stephen Ministry. Shortly after moving to Moorhead, Norma was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which limited her activities. Spending time with family, and in particular, attending the grandchildren's athletic, music, and theatre events, became even more important to her.
Norma had a selfless approach to life and saw "serving others" as what God had called her to do. She derived her greatest pleasure from her family, the church, the Cabin, and the Twins, and she modeled for all what it means to truly love your neighbor.
Norma died on July 6, at 9 PM, at the age of 80. She is survived by her husband Verdie; children, Scott (Sue) of Moorhead, Kristen (Greg) Lehman of St. Cloud, Todd (Jennifer) of Maple Grove, and Kari (Dan) Bell of Colorado Springs, CO; grandchildren, Matthew and Andrew Ellingson, Jackie, Beth, and Dan Lehman, Rachel, Grace, and Natalie Ellingson, and Katie and Kyle Gruenhagen; step-grandson, Ryan Bell; a brother, Ray (Sylvia) Retrum and sisters, Gladys Pederson and Irene (Roger) Ahrndt, all of Benson. She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Irvin Retrum.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials to: Arthritis Foundation, Eventide Senior Living Community, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd or a memorial of your choice.
Click to view the Video Tribute for Norma