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July 4, 1925 - January 9, 2015

Bernelle Snell, long time farm wife and mother of Burr Oak and Hesper townships passed away Friday, January 9th, 2015 at the Winneshiek Medical Center at the age of 89.

Mae Georgianna, who most commonly went by Bernelle, was born July 4, 1925 at home in rural Decorah to Gilbert and Idella (Twenge) Amundson.  She attended country school near the Union Prairie cemetery until age 10.  At that time the family moved to a farm near Prosper, MN.  Bernelle attended the Prosper school through the 8th grade and Mabel high school through the 11th grade.  In 1941 her family purchased a farm west of Burr Oak, Iowa and she graduated from Canton High School in 1942 at the age of 16.

Bernelle moved to Burlington, Iowa and worked at Schram’s Department Store and later a bomb factory where she was quickly promoted to supervisor at both jobs.  She moved back to Decorah and attended Luther College to obtain her teaching certificate and worked at Ted’s Tobacco store dishing up ice cream.  Bernelle loved attending Luther College and took advantage of being in a choir and going to the library both at Luther and the Decorah Public Library.

Mae Georgianna obtained her teaching certificate and became a country school teacher and taught at the Bakke School in rural Decorah for 2 years.  She loved teaching school and stayed in the family home for one year at the Bakkes, the grandparents of her future daughter in law.

Bernelle married Merlin Snell on June 2, 1947 at the Mabel First Lutheran Parsonage.  They lived on Merlin’s home farm until 1950 and then built a home one mile away and continued to farm in Hesper and Burr Oak townships until they retired.  Later in their retired life Bernelle and Merlin moved to their condo in Decorah, IA.

Merlin and Bernelle have five children.  Larry (Corinne) Snell of Wasau, WI, Dr. Randy (Susan) Snell of Lewiston, MN, Jolyn Mikesh, Frank Snell, and Pam Snell all of Decorah, IA.  Bernelle is also survived by eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. 

Mrs. Snell was a member of Mabel First Lutheran Church since she was 10 years old.  Bernellewas baptized at Decorah Lutheran Church and confirmed at Mabel First Lutheran.  She was active in the church throughout her life.  She was a Sunday School Teacher, Council Member, ALCW & WELCA President and Officer, Root River Conference President of the ALCW, choir member, ladies singing group member and soloist.  Bernelle loved giving bible study for her circle every month and giving the bible study at Green Lea Manor Nursing home.  She also took the Bethel series classes and became a teacher of Bethel at Mabel First Lutheran.  Bernelle also enjoyed reading the lessons in church.  She believed if you were asked to do something it was God asking you to serve.

Mae Georgianna had many interests and was rarely idle.  Throughout her life she loved to knit, crochet, sew, macramé, garden – both huge vegetable and flower gardens, swim, read, sing, whistle, bake, and cook fabulous meals.  Bernelle loved her Norwegian heritage and passing on the traditions. She loved water aerobics and attended classes year round for more than 30 years.  She also led 7 water aerobics classes a week at a private pool near Mabel.  Bernelle and Merlin loved to go dancing at Matter’s Ballroom in Decorah every Saturday night.  They shared a love for the Lawrence Welk show and rarely missed a Saturday night show on IPTV.  Bernelle also had a strong love for her pets and had many over the years.

Bernelle was well known for her singing voice and was a past member of the Farm Bureau Women’s Chorus, Northern Lights, Hesper Cantata and Community choirs for special services.  She also played trumpet in the high school band and played in community bands as an adult.  Music brought daily happiness.

Bernelle and Merlin loved to travel.  They made many car trips to San Diego, CA to visitBernelle’s sister Ardath and to Buffalo, New York and visit Bernelle’s sister, Alberta.  She traveled to Europe three times.  One trip with Pam and Merlin to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, another trip with Merlin and her sister Ardath to England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and a third trip to Norway to attend the wedding of their Norwegian exchange student in Bergen with Pam and Jolyn. Bernelle, Pam, and Merlin traveled on several bus trips throughout the U.S. and Canada making many friends.  Bernelle and Pam especially, loved traveling on buses to view musical and theatre performances.  She also loved to fish and enjoyed family trips to Hackensack, MN and trips to Canada fishing with Larry and his family multiple times.

Bernelle was a member of the Mabel American Legion Auxillary, Porkettes, Winneshiek County Extension Council, 4-H Leader, achievement show judge, Joan of Arc club member, and Farm Bureau Women’s group serving as president for several years before she was eventually named Farm Bureau Women of the Year.  Bernelle and Merlin also square danced and were members of a card club.

Mr. and Mrs. Merlin Snell hosted two foreign exchange students from Norway.  Marit Kummeneje(cousin of Bernelle) in 1976 and Astrid Overaasen in 1978-1979. They both called her “Mom”.

She is survived by her children, grandchildren Dr. Benjamin (Megan) Snell of Lancaster, PA, Stacy (Dr. Jason) Lunden of Bozeman, MT, Emily (Dr. Paul) Block of Madison, WI, Heather (Brian) Erwin of Rochester, MN, Jeremy Snell of Rochester, MN, Jonathan Snell (fiancée Michelle Schultz) of Des Moines, IA, Joshua Snell of Grimes, IA, and Tyler Mikesh of Decorah, IA, great grandchildren Lauren and Julian Snell, Isiah and Elsa Block, Ida and Ingrid Lunden and Madelyn Erwin, brother and sister-in-law, Bud and Joan Amundson, nephews Pat (Robin) Flynn, Jack (Hilde) Hughes and Jim (Carrol) Hughes.

She was preceded in death by her husband Merlin, April 18, 2013, by her parents, Gilbert andIdella Amundson, her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Frank and Lucy Snell.  Son-in-law Steve Mikesh, sisters and brother-in-laws Ardath and Joe Flynn, Alberta, and Everett Hughes, sister, Bea Amundson and nephew Ray Hughes. 

Funeral services are Monday, January 12th at 11 a.m. at Mabel First Lutheran Church, Mabel, MN.  Visitation is 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. January 11th at Mengis Funeral Home.  Mabel, MN.  Burial will be in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Burr Oak, IA following the church service.  Memorials preferred to Mabel First Lutheran Church.

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