On Aug. 6, 1927, a feisty, stubborn Norwegian girl named Esther Rasmussen was born, the 11th child to Erick and Anna Mathilda (Pederson) Rasmussen in rural Barron County, Wis.

Esther passed away early Sunday morning, June 16, 2019, at age 91.

When she began grade school at Africa School, she only spoke Norwegian, but she had a quick mind and excelled in school. She graduated from Barron High School in 1945. After high school, she joined the Nursing Corps and began her nurse’s training at Luther Hospital. She soon met a tall, dark, handsome man named Duane Keilholtz. They married in April of 1947. The union would produce seven children.

After Duane’s passing, Esther and the troop moved back to Wickware to be nearer her family. In 1958, she met Ervin Skjerly, a wonderful, friendly, pipe-smoking widower with three sons. They married on June 7, 1958, after a whirlwind courtship and began their married life with ten children.

The “three little girls” soon followed and brought the total to lucky 13. She stayed at home for the first part of her adult life. She later began working at the Dallas Nursing Home as a CNA. She then went back to school and obtained her LPN degree and began a long career at the Barron Extended Care Unit.

After retirement, she did hospice and nursing care at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp. She had many interests. One constant was music. There was always music in our house. Mom sang in the church choir and the Sweet Adelines–Hay River Harmony for many years.

We always had a huge garden growing up, as there were lots of mouths to feed. We enjoyed the bounty of the garden, orchard and berry patches throughout the year.

Mom loved her flowers and grew many different varieties through the years. Even though she was kept extremely busy raising children, she found time to do painting, crafts and stitching, along with sewing lots of clothes. She also enjoyed decorating for every holiday, but her favorite was Christmas decorating. She had decorated Christmas trees in every room, an angel tree, a bird tree and a Norwegian tree, to name a few.

She was very proud of her Norwegian heritage and traveled to Norway three times. She was an active 40-year member of the Sons of Norway, including serving as lodge president.

The church was an important part of her life. Growing up, missing church was not an option. She taught Sunday school, served on the church council and was very involved in Ladies Aid.

And candy, she loved her candy! She always had several kinds available, and all the kids knew which dish to look in and which drawer the extra candy was kept in. When you stopped to visit, she always made sure you ate some of her candy, and you’d better take extra to eat on the way home.

She absolutely loved her family and was so proud of each and every one of us. She attended thousands of school and other events for her family, band concerts, choir concerts and so very many sporting events. If there was a way for her to attend, she would go.

Surviving are children Judy Keilholtz, Annette (Dwaine) Mason, Randy (Harriet) Skjerly, Nathan (Rochelle) Keilholtz, Bradley (Jean) Skjerly, Debbie (Loren) Teig, Timothy (Terri Knutson) Keilholtz, Steven (Linda) Skjerly, Mary (Bill) Dexter, Karen (Tom) Schaaf, Dawn (Jody) Kunkel and Connie Dillon; a brother Marvin Rasmussen; a sister Ardis (Dale) Thorsbakken; sisters-in-law Ethel Rasmussen, Ardys Keilholtz and Kathleen (Jack) Lucey; a daughter-in-law Jerilyn Keilholtz; 34 grandchildren; 60 great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren and one more due in September; godchildren Paul Christopherson and Collin Mau; and many nieces, nephews and some very dear friends.

Esther was preceded in death by her husbands Duane and Ervin; her parents; a son Rick Keilholtz; Baby Girl Skjerly; a daughter-in-law Ruby Skjerly; brothers and sisters-in-law Rangvald Rasmussen, Peder and Sibyl Rasmussen, Edwin and Wilma Rasmussen, Richard and Ragna Rasmussen, Alf Rasmussen, Henry and Esther Rasmussen, and Oscar and Delores Rasmussen; a sister-in-law Annabelle Rasmussen; sisters and brothers-in-law Minnie and Henry Glaser, and Ruth and Alton Anderson; and brothers-in-law Duane Skjerly and Charles Keilholtz.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 20, from New Hope Lutheran Church-Pine Creek, Town of Wilson, rural Ridgeland, with Rev. Michael Sparby officiating and interment at the church cemetery.

Visitation will be held 4-8 p.m. Wednesday and an hour prior to services Thursday, all at the church.

Rausch-Lundeen Funeral Homes, Dallas and Cameron, are handling arrangements.