Cover photo for Opal Rosemary Pihlaja's Obituary
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1929 Opal 2015

Opal Rosemary Pihlaja

March 4, 1929 — November 27, 2015

On November 27, 2015 with broken hearts we said goodbye for now to our beloved mother, Opal Rosemary “Rosie” (Jellum) Pihlaja. She passed into eternity at Essentia Health in Fargo, North Dakota with her daughter Sandy by her side. Rosie was a resident of the Frazee Assisted Living at the time of her passing. Rosie was born on March 4, 1929 in Grand Park Township, Rochert, MN to Ole Selmer and Lydia Bertha (Clifton) Jellum. She spent her childhood on the Tamarack Refuge, where she attended school and graduated from Grand Park Township country school. Rosie was baptized and confirmed at Egelund Lutheran Church in the Tamarack Refuge. As a young woman, she moved with her family to the Ponsford Prairie. In the summer of 1945 while tending cattle on the family farm and reading her beloved books, a tall, blue-eyed blonde who was doing field work on his family farm, came over to introduce himself. Rosie’s dog Sport took a liking to the young man and allowed him to introduce himself and so their courtship began. Rosie married her sweetheart, Elmer Pihlaja on July 2, 1947 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Height of Land, MN. Following their union, they lived in Snellman, Chicago, IL, Ponsford Prairie and later retired to Elmer’s childhood home place near Snellman in August 1996. Elmer and Rosie loved their family and cherished family gatherings on the home place with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They worked hard to provide a good life for their family and instilled the same love for family and work ethic in their children. Elmer and Rosie traveled extensively throughout the United States in their retirement years. They spent 63 wonderful years together before his passing on July 19, 2010. Rosie loved making chocolate chip cookies and flat bread with her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. She would send cookies and bread with her grandchildren to college and other travel adventures. She enjoyed 4th of July at the lake, Christmas at the home place, and mother-daughter weekends. Rosie was a faithful member of the Gethesmane Lutheran Church in Snellman where she taught Sunday school, was a member of the Ladies Aid and in her early years, the Treasurer. She enjoyed doing alter care and serving coffee and desserts for fellowship after church services. She would plant a large vegetable garden each year, tended to her strawberry and raspberry patches, and canned the fruits of her labor to fulfill the needs of her growing family. She also cared for her beloved peonies that originated from her mother’s garden and were transplanted to each farm they owned. Rosie was honored to receive the United States flag flown over Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan on March 4, 2012, her 83rd birthday, and a certificate signed by Colonel of the Afghanistan National Army and her grandson, Captain Ryan Lowe, Hammer Troop. Rosie is survived by her four daughters: Kathy Lowe of Layton, Utah, Linda (Tony) Harris of Osage, Judy (Russ) Mattson of Osage and Sandy (Craig) Stilke of Detroit Lakes; daughter-in-law, Linda Pihlaja of Snellman; fourteen grandchildren; twelve great grandchildren; five great-great grandchildren; two sisters: Virginia Swenson of Ponsford and Janice Latto of Frazee; brother-in-law, Clarence Pihlaja of Frazee; sister-in-law, Ruth Hanson of Frazee; and many nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Elmer; two sons, Roger and Lyle; one grandson, Joshua Mattson; and one granddaughter, Rachel Mattson; both parents; two brothers, Robert and Lloyd; four sisters, Agnes Tronstard, Bernice Livingood, Verna Stein, Dorothy Pihlaja. Funeral services will be held 11 am Friday, December 4, 2015 at Gethesmane Lutheran Church in Snellman with Pastor Scott Muehlberg officiating. Visitation will be held 5 – 8 pm Thursday, December 3, 2015 at Jones-Pearson Funeral Home in Park Rapids. Interment will be made at Snellman Cemetery. The casket bearers will be Rosie’s granddaughters: Jane Dolan, Tammy Patson, Stephanie Lowe, Tracie Koskela, Jessica Mattson, Tracy Mattson, Krista Pihlaja and great-granddaughters: Kaitlyn Dolan, Hayley Hood, and Phoenix Lowe. The honorary casket bearers will be her grandsons: Joseph Pihlaja, Jerold Pihlaja, Shawn Patson, Captain Ryan Lowe, Ross Mattson, Rory Mattson, Travis Mattson, Tyler Stilke, Trevor Stilke, Jason Koskela and great-grandsons: Alex Roger Pihlaja, Kenneth Dolan, Kristopher Knott, Harrison Hood, Steven Foulger and Wyatt Koskela. Following the service a luncheon will be hosted by the Gethesmane Lutheran Church. The family wishes to extend a special thanks to Jan Riewer and the extended family she grew to love at the Frazee Care Center and Dr. Gebur, Dr. Trevino and Dr. Kremmens as well as the rest of the caring medical staff of the critical care unit at Essentia Health in Fargo, ND. To leave online condolences or to view the video tribute please visit www.jonespearson.com
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