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Luella "Lou" Bjertness""

June 10, 1939 - March 27, 2022

Luella “Lou” Bjertness passed away peacefully at Whispering Creek Nursing Home in Janesville, MN on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the age of 82.
Lou as born in Clark, SD on June 10, 1939 to Henry and Kathryn Fokken.  Her family moved to Mabel, MN in the late 1940’s.  It was here that she met her lifelong friend, Helen Johnson.  Helen introduced Lou to her fiancé’s cousin, and the two officially became related when each married these two fellas. While some may think that their spouses had no idea the type of capers these two women could commit, we are pretty sure they were well aware of the possibilities and signed on for the hitch anyway.

Luella married Ronald Bjertness in February of 1957.  She graduated from Mabel High School in May of that year, which was unusual for a young wife.  It is a credit to the school district and the support of her husband that allowed her to set a new precedent for young women to complete their secondary education, regardless of their marital status.

After Lou’s graduation, the couple moved to Harmony, MN, and raised their three perfectly behaved children.  During that time, Lou assisted Ronnie by working parttime as the bookkeeper for Harmony Motor Service.  In 1980, once all the children were out of elementary school, Lou worked parttime at a factory in Spring Grove before becoming a CNA at the Preston Nursing Home.

Later, the couple divorced, and Lou settled in Stewartville, working at the nursing home there.  This move again put her mere blocks from her best friend, Helen.  The tales of their excursions to shopping malls, flea markets, antique stores, coffee, dining – anything in between – kept their families in stiches.  May we all have at least one friendship like theirs.

When it came to hobbies, Lou had more than a few.  Luella loved gardening – both flowers and vegetables.   She raised many, many types of roses, with yellow roses and peace roses being among her favorites.  She managed to plant a pussywillow in an area where it normally would not have been able to grow – and it thrived under her care.  She dubbed it a “Wooly-Pissle” due to her family’s love of routinely mixing up word pronunciations.   Lou grew up in a very musical family, so singing and playing music was especially important to her.  She had a lovely alto voice.  And, of course, Lou could cook and bake with the best.   Her pie crusts were tender, and her lefse was beyond compare. It was thin enough to be translucent and it would melt in your mouth like the butter that was on it.  Holiday dinners were her time to shine, and she made sure no one left without some of their favorites to take home.  She also was an amazing crafter with the needles – knitting, crocheting and embroidery were favorite pastimes for her.  When her large garden and surrounding area provided produce, Lou would set to canning and preserving jams and jellies.  These often provided welcomed gifts for family and neighbors.

When caring for a home on her own became too much, Lou moved to Valleyview Assisted Living, first in Jordan, MN, then later Owatonna, MN.  She enjoyed their programs, bingo, and shopping outings, and interacting with her new friends at each facility.  She was even crowned “Sweethearts Queen” at the Owatonna location one year, along with her special friend, David.  It was such a sweet event.
Over the past year, Lou’s health prompted a move to a nursing home in Janesville.  The staff, some of them related to Lou’s daughter-in-law, took such good care of her.  This was especially important to her children, as visits were often limited during the pandemic.  Her children would like the staff at Whispering Creek to know that it was nice to know that she was truly being treated like family – by family. 

Luella’s last day was overseen by Jennifer, of St. Croix Hospice.  Between Jennifer and the staff at Whispering Creek, Luella was comfortable. All three of her children were able to spend the day surrounding her with stories and reminiscing over all the silly and wonderful things that they grew up experiencing with this little spitfire of a woman.

Luella is survived by her three children:  Richard (Laurie), Cris (Jim) and Rachel (Daniel); and a sister, Margie. She was also a very proud grandma to her nine grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and even a great-great-grandchild.   Lou was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Lorene and Edna, and very recently, a granddaughter, Jennifer.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, May 7 from 2 – 5 PM at the Mengis Funeral Home in Mabel, MN.  All will be welcome to attend.  In lieu of flowers to the family, please send them two your own mother, wife, sister or elderly person who means something special to you.  Condolences can be sent to Mengis Funeral Home, PO Box 397, Mabel, MN  55954.  The family would like to thank Whispering Creek, St. Croix Hospice and Mr. Timothy Mengis for their care and support in helping the family and Luella handle this time with dignity and grace.


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