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1915 Loretta 2011

Loretta Mae Odegard

October 2, 1915 — February 1, 2011

Loretta Mae (Stephenson) Odegard, 95, of Fargo, ND, formerly of Buxton, N.D. passed away Tuesday, February 1, 2011, at Bethany Homes, Fargo. Loretta Odegard was born October 2, 1915 at Glendive, Montana. She was the youngest of the three children of James and Mary (Newell) Stephenson who were homestead pioneers of Dawson County, Montana. The family moved to California in 1919 but returned to the homestead in 1925. She was a 1933 graduate of the high school at Richey, MT, a member of the debate team that won the Montana State Championship in 1932, a basketball player and participated as a soloist in chorus. In January 1935 she walked 9 miles across snow covered prairie and rode four miles to dance on F. D. R.’s birthday for the March of Dimes. She worked in area cafes as a cook, baker, dishwasher, waitress and cashier. She married Ernest L. Odegard on December 16, 1936 at Glasgow, MT. They moved to Buxton in 1940, where they enjoyed farming until retirement in 1977. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 2001. She opened her home to many with love, kind words and wonderful homemade cooking and baking. She was a member of the Grue Church and WELCA. There was never a dull moment with Loretta and she never lacked for something to keep her busy. At age 65 she methodically unearthed the roots of her husband’s family tree while teaching herself to read Norwegian. The end result was a book about his family called, “A Viking Heritage.” It landed on library shelves at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Washington, Iowa and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. At the age of 75 she acquired a computer and her search really took off working on Ernie’s maternal family tree and also tackled her own lineage, which included the Stephensons and the Newells. She helped complete the Grue Cemetery Registry (1878-1992) for the Grue Church. Loretta and her husband moved to Bethany Retirement Living, Fargo, ND in 1994 where she lived for the next 16years. She treasured her days and served on various committees. She was interviewed in 1995 by the Forum and 1996 by Midweek. Using her computer skills she made posters for the residents called “Thought for the Day”. She wanted to perk up the weary, cheer the discouraged and bring sunshine to the sad. Loretta spent her last year on the Cedar Square Skilled Living floor where she was known for her quick wit, smile and kind heart. She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Ernest, daughter and best friend Lorna, and daughter Marla Joan who passed away when she was 10 days old in 1955. She will be greatly missed by her surviving friends and relatives. Funeral Services will be Monday, February 7, 2011 at 1 p.m. in the Mavis Whiting Chapel, Bethany Homes, Fargo. Burial will be at Grue Cemetery, rural Buxton, in the spring.
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