Grefe, Verda L.

Died: 24 October 2017

Grefe, Verda L. (Swenson) 88 years, Prairie Farm, WI, left this earth Tuesday, 24 October 2017 at Mayo Clinic Health System- Northland, Barron, to be with Jesus and many beloved in Heaven.

Verda was the fourth of eight children born to Walter and Nettie (Anderson) Swenson of rural River Falls. She was born 6 November 1928, and was baptized and confirmed at Rush River Lutheran Church. She attended Gertrude School, a one-room grade school at the edge of the Swenson family farm. After eighth grade graduation, she attended high school in River Falls, rooming in town as every day transportation wasn’t available. Following the strong family value of the importance of education, she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls to become a teacher. While there, a dashing young returning G.I. made her acquaintance. She and Robert Grefe eloped and were wed in Cambridge, Minn., on 15 July 1949. Thus began a young farm girl’s gypsy life, as her father called it. Bob and Verda moved to Prairie Farm, where Bob taught agriculture for a year. The next stop after Bob’s bout with polio and Verda taught school was Ashland. A few years later, they were in Wautoma. Now with three children, Verda most often was a homemaker. However, she did work at the Tasty Freeze ice cream stand and at a summer program for children of migrant workers. She was also active in the community through Extension Homemakers and church events at Hope Lutheran Church, where she was a Sunday school teacher and Ladies Aid member. The next stop was Medford, where she was long term subbed at a rural multi-grade school. Then, the move to the big city: Madison. Verda found her niche in being a pre-school teacher. It would be hard to calculate the number of families she touched there.

Still, more moves were ahead. Stevens Point was next, followed by retirement in Prairie Farm, where she volunteered at school and heard many book reports. Community activities like Civic Club, Ladies Auxiliary and many Circle and ULCW service opportunities filled her heart and days. She especially enjoyed Do-Day, where quilts were assembled for Lutheran World Relief and fellowship was nourished.

Verda lived her life modeling her strong faith, and her belief in the importance of education and responsibility to positively impact the world and community around her. She shared her skill and love of knitting, quilting, embroidery, sewing and crafts with many relatives and friends. Bob and Verda enjoyed many years of camping and travel with friends, children and grandchildren. She is now home forever.

Bob and Verda’s 65 years of marriage were blessed with three children: Robert Paul Grefe of Madison, Gail Diane (Donald) Olson of Wheeler and Donald Scott (Christine) Grefe of De Forest. They also have a “daughter of the heart” Margaret James of Milwaukee, and her daughters Amy and Hedy. She is also survived by grandchildren Forest, Clinton and Weston Grefe, Laura (Ryan) Doebereiner, Virginia (Jacob) Welle and Peter (Meghan) Olson; great-grandchildren Emily, Abigail and Owen Doebereiner, and Anton and Aericka Olson; sisters Norma (Lloyd) Nelson and Edith (Minnard) Hojem; sisters-in-law Pat Swenson, Phyllis Moore and Maxine Grefe; a brother-in-law Fredrick (Norma) Grefe; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

Verda was preceded in death by her parents; her husband on 16 Dec 2014; sisters Arlene Odbert and Shirley Sitz; and brothers John, David and Roger Swenson.

Service was held at 11 a.m. Saturday 4 Nov 2017 from United Lutheran Church, Prairie Farm, with Rev. Erin Koster officiating and interment was at Vanceburg Cemetery, Town of Sheridan, rural Prairie Farm. Visitation was held an hour prior to services at the church. Rausch-Lundeen Funeral Homes from Dallas and Cameron, handled arrangements.

Verda is listed on page 194 in the 4th edition of the Seidemann Family Tree with her family. She is deeply missed by her family and friends.