Ruth Fretheim

Monday, May 9, 2016 2:11 am

Ruth Fretheim, age 90, of Decorah, died Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at the Aase Haugen Nursing Home in Decorah.

Ruth Carola (Bjerkvig) Fretheim was born Nov. 14, 1925, the daughter of Joseph and Inga (Berg) Bjerkvig near Zumbrota, Minn. She was the last remaining member of the Bjerkvig family to die. Ruth attended country school at “Lena School”, District 72. The school was 2 ½ miles from her home. Ruth and her brother and sister walked to school except in the winter when it was cold, their dad took them in a sleigh.  Ruth grew up in the Depression years of the 1930’s. Everyone who lived on a farm raised their own food. Everyone helped with the work. There was no extra money for luxuries, but there were fun times such as: visiting neighbors, birthday parties, Christmas dinner at relatives and in the summer going on a picnic in a pasture by a stream or to a park along the Mississippi. Ruth attended Zumbrota High School, graduating in 1944. 

After high school, Ruth was in the “Cadet Nurse Corp” at Red Wing. She then went to work for Kraft Cheese at the Farmers Milk Plant in Zumbrota.  Ruth and three other women were the first women Kraft hired to make cheese. She was there for over a year until she enrolled at Northwest Institute of Medical Technology in Minneapolis. Ruth graduated in June of 1946 and started working at the hospital in Decorah July 1, 1946 as a lab and x-ray technician. 

Ruth worked at the hospital until she married Herbert Fretheim on March, 17, 1951, at the United Lutheran Church in Zumbrota, Minn. To this union, six children were born: Wayne, Carol, Warren, Connie, Ruth Ann and Wesley. She then worked for Doctors Dahlquist and Svendson until her first child was born in August, 1952. Ruth stayed at home with her children for eleven years and then went back to work at the hospital in 1964, where she stayed until her retirement in 1987. Ruth enjoyed rosemaling, going to Volkswalks, bowling, baby sitting and going to school activities involving her grandchildren.

She also enjoyed bird watching, crocheting, quilting, riding her bicycle and her dogs, cats and chickens. Ruth was a supporting member of the Vesterheim Museum where she donated some of her family’s heirlooms. She also enjoyed attending the Nordic Fest.  Ruth was a member of the Madison Lutheran Church. 

Ruth’s survivors include her three daughters: Carol (Steve) Benzing of Decorah, Connie (Dave) Busta of Decorah and Ruth Ann (Steve) Novak of Cresco; three sons: Wayne Fretheim of Minneapolis, Minn., Warren (Linda) Fretheim of Ridgeway and Wesley Fretheim of Decorah; 11 grandchildren: Erika Benzing, Ryan Benzing, Kara (Josh) Corcoran; Amber Wilkins and Kyle Fretheim; Michael (Ann) Busta, Tom (Hon) Busta; Cody (Melissa) Stuart and Megan (Casey) Bauer; Justin and Zachary Fretheim; niine great grandchildren: Jade Jungjohann, Isaac Busta, Hallie and Aaron Busta, Collin and Taylor Stuart, Maci and Tarron Bauer and Ariel Wilkins; one sister-in-law:  Olive Sims of Decorah; along with several nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.

Ruth was preceded in death by her husband: Herbert Fretheim Sept. 5, 2007; by her parents: Joseph and Inga (Berg) Bjerkvig.; a brother: Jannes Bjerkvig; a sister: Shirley Cage; her father-in-law and mother-in-law: Olaf and Ruby Fretheim; her brothers-in-law:  Harold Sims, Thomas Dildine, Everett Cage and Ervin Rasmussen; and by her sister-in-law: Arlene Rasmussen. 

Services were Saturday, May 7, at 11 a.m. at Madison Lutheran Church, Decorah, with Pastor Jeff Hansen officiating. Organist was Judy Hovden and soloist was Dan Silhacek. Hymns included “Beautiful Savior,” “Goin’ Home,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” and “How Great Thou Art.”

Interment was at Madison Lutheran Cemetery, Decorah, with Schluter-Balik Funeral Home in charge of the arrangements.

Honorary casket bearers were Erika Flack, Kara Corcoran, Megan Bauer and Amber Fretheim.

Casket bearers were Mike Busta, Tom Busta, Ryan Benzing, Cody Stuart, Kyle Fretheim, Justin Fretheim and Zachary Fretheim.


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