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Elsie Ordelle Holtan

December 13, 1927 ~ June 3, 2023 (age 95) 95 Years Old


Elsie O. Holtan, of Dawson, died Saturday, June 3, 2023 at Johnson Memorial Care Center in Dawson at the age of 95.

Memorial services will be held Monday, June 12, 2023 at 1:30 PM at Lac qui Parle Lutheran Church.  Rev. Bruce Bringle will officiate and interment will be held in the church cemetery.

Visitation will be held one hour prior to services at the church on Monday.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Gideons International, CentraCare Foundation/Hospice, or Lac qui Parle Lutheran Church Cemetery Fund.

Arrangements are with Hanson & Dahl Funeral Home in Dawson.

Elsie Ordelle Holtan was born at the Montevideo Hospital to Oscar and Ella (Mork) Heieren on December 13, 1927.  She was baptized and confirmed at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Baxter (OSLC-B) and grew up in Baxter Township on a small farm that was enriched by the Norwegian culture of numerous local relatives and neighbors.  She attended District #8 School in Baxter Township.  For 2 years, Elsie attended Dawson High School in Dawson, MN.  When gas rationing came and school bus routes were limited during World War II, however, she carpooled about 12 miles with neighbors and ultimately in 1946 graduated from Montevideo High School.  For a short period of time after graduation, Elsie worked in an administrative support role at the Montevideo Credit Union.  Elsie later worked at Great Plains Lumber and at Dawson Clinic Medical Records Office for 28 years, until her retirement in 1992.

Elsie had an active social life and caught the eye of a young man from Dawson.  This young man kept asking her out for a date, but she always refused him.  Eventually this young man gave up and suggested that his buddy, Don Holtan, ask Elsie out.  Don invited Elsie out for a date and “that was that.”  They were married at OSLC-B on September 19, 1948 (also Don’s birthday).

Don and Elsie initially lived on the Old Holtan Farm – aka the North Place on Cerro Gordo, Section 28 -- in a 15-room house with a huge attic, as well as a summer kitchen.  The local fauna at the North Place included white-tailed deer, hummingbirds, and ring-necked pheasants.  In addition to the wildlife, the North Place had a large population of outside cats that Elsie knew by name and temperament.  Elsie had a sewing shop on the second floor of the North Place and stitched together numerous wedding dresses and formal gowns for ladies in the local communities.  In 1949, Elsie won the local “Make It Yourself With Wool” contest and went to the Minnesota State Fair.  She didn’t win that event, but had a good time in the Twin Cities.

In addition to sewing, Elsie excelled at hosting holiday events and birthday parties for her relatives and neighbors.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve/Day were especially memorable when the Heieren-Mork ladies prepared all manner of Norwegian treats, including lefse, meatballs, and rømmegrøt (porridge pudding).  Birthday parties at Smith Park (Montevideo) or the Dawson Swimming Pool were also special for their ice cream, Rice Krispy bars, and angel food cakes with crinkles.  Summer meals at the Holtan table were memorable for their homegrown peas, carrots, asparagus, and sweet corn from the garden, as well as canned fruits (pears, peaches, apricots, and cherries) that Elsie prepared with her sister, Bernita.

Elsie had an adventurous spirit and often accompanied her husband Don on numerous outings, including:  stock car races, tractor pulling contests, antique gas motor shows, and threshing events at Heritage Hill (Montevideo).  Her motto was to keep active, but also to balance work and play.  In the summertime, for example, Don and Elsie would quit work at 5 p.m. and go to nearby Milan Bridge to waterski with their neighbors.  In the summertime, she especially enjoyed skiing in the moonlight and cruising slowly around the lake.  In addition, Elsie liked old time music, family history, scrapbooking, genealogy, and taking family photographs.

While Elsie had no children of her own, she enjoyed being with and caring for her cousins, nieces, and nephews.  Over the years, for example, she made several trips “out West” to Oregon with several of these youngsters to visit her Heieren-Mork relatives.  For many of these youngsters, this was their first train trip, first view of the Rocky Mountains, and first time to swim in an ocean.  Elsie also visited her nephew, Jeff, and his wife, Amanda, at a Maya Indian village in Quintana Roo, Mexico (in the Yucatan Peninsula), where they were conducting wildlife and forestry research.  This was a rustic field site where most residences had dirt floors, palm thatch roofs, and no running water.  For 2 weeks, Elsie slept in a hammock, drank Mexican beer, and swam in the ocean.  She had a great time and even learned a few words in Spanish!

Elsie was an active member of Lac qui Parle Lutheran Church, and before that at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Baxter.  She often sang at weddings and funerals, and was also active in the choir, Ladies Aid, mission group, and other church activities.

After many years at the North Place, still serviced by a biffy, Don and Elsie eventually moved south across the field to Section 33, aka the “South Place” (former residence of Don’s parents, Joseph and Ahme Holtan).  The local fauna at the South Place also included white-tailed deer, hummingbirds, and ring-necked pheasants, and Don continued his wildlife food and water program.  But things were not the same as Don and Elsie aged.

Following Don’s death in 2014, Elsie lived alone at the South Place until 2016 when she entered Johnson Memorial Health Services Care Center.  She enjoyed her stay at the Care Center and her interactions with the staff.  Elsie was especially appreciative of her neighbor and health advocate, Diane Bergeson, for her support and company over the years.  Elsie also cherished Sid and Arlene Johnson for their friendship and support as they also took over the care and management of the Holtan Farm.  The support of these special friends increased significantly as Elsie’s relatives and friends passed away or were unable to visit her at a time when Elsie’s physical and personal needs were increasing.  This support was critical to Elsie’s well-being, especially during the last few years at the Care Center.  Thanks to Diane, Sid, and Arlene, Elsie was never alone or forgotten.  Elsie’s family greatly appreciates their kindnesses and friendship at that time.

Elsie Ordelle Holtan attained the age of 95 years, 5 months, and 21 days.

Survivors include her sister-in-law, LaVon (Holtan) Mohr of Luverne, Minnesota;  nephew, John (Jennifer) Mohr of Temecula, California;  and grand-nephew, Aidan Mohr.  Survivors through her sister also include several nephews and nieces, as well as their children and grandchildren:  Jeffrey (Amanda) Jorgenson of Annandale, Virginia;  Elizabeth (Jay) Kellner of Benson, Minnesota;  Allen Jorgenson of Fargo, North Dakota;  Emily (Scott) Howley of Dallas, Texas;  and Jane (Kevin) Kellner of St. Augusta, Minnesota;  and several West Coast cousins and their families.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Oscar and Ella Heieren;  father-in-law and mother-in-law, Joseph and Ahme Holtan;  husband, Donald Holtan;  sister, Bernita (Heieren) Jorgenson;  brother-in-law, (Alton) Roger Jorgenson;  nephew, Marcus Jorgenson;  niece, Janet Jorgenson (stillborn);  niece, Jean Shirley Holtan (at the age of 15);  and brother-in-law, David Mohr (LaVon);  as well as numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.

May her memory be blessed.

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June 12, 2023

12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
Lac qui Parle Lutheran Church (MN)
2339 236th St.
Dawson, MN 56232

Memorial Service
June 12, 2023

1:30 PM
Lac qui Parle Lutheran Church (MN)
2339 236th St.
Dawson, MN 56232


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