Thelma Louella Espeseth

Tuesday, January 3, 2017 7:27 pm

Thelma Louella Espeseth, 93, originally of Decorah, passed away peacefully Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, at Heritage Monona, Monona, Wis. A funeral service is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, Wis. Visitation is from 10-to 11 a.m., with service to follow. Memorials should be made to the “Espeseth Memorial Scholarship fund” and sent to Jim Espeseth c/o United Real Estate Corp. 516 E Washington Ave., STE 1 Madison, WI 53703. Memories may be shared at

Thelma was born March 8, 1923, the daughter of Adolph and Bertine (Bertha) Severide. She married the love of her life, Earl A. Espeseth, also of Decorah, and joined him in Madison where he had begun what would become a long and successful career in real estate and appraisals. Thelma was steadfast in her devotion to her husband, family, extended family and many friends throughout her life. When she wasn’t writing letters at her desk, she was found at the painting table in the sunroom of her home. She was an accomplished painter, her passion being rosemaling, a beautiful form of Norwegian painting often seen on wood cabinets, serving trays, plates and wood candle sticks. Thelma would regularly prowl the second hand stores for any wood piece she found interesting and which provided the proper shape and size to display a particular rose mauling technique she was studying and practicing. Thelma enjoyed traveling throughout the US and Canada with Earl, her husband of 50+ plus years, prior to his death in 2007. At home she doubled as chief handyman, caring for the tenants and local apartment buildings they had acquired over the years. Her affection for Earl and loyalty to his long-standing and successful appraisal career was perceptible to everyone who knew her. In addition, she loved growing vegetables in her home garden, and many types of perennial flowers around the front and back yard, a favorite being tulips. Rain or shine, she enjoyed working outside and was proud of her longtime home near the football stadium. Although she spent the early part of her life in Iowa, the Badgers won her heart when they bought that first and last home in 1963. The family wishes to extend its gratitude to friends Kim and Lori for their kindness and care during the last years of Thelma’s life.
She is survived by her three children: son, James Earl (Nadine) of Madison, Wis.; and daughters Julie Espeseth Quirk (Brian) of Hershey, Pa., and Karen Bertine Meacham (Steve) of Victoria, Texas; sister-in-law Jane Severide of Cedar Rapids.

She also is survived by three grandchildren: Erika Gray (Zach), Patrick Quirk and Elijah Espeseth; two step-grandchildren; Remington and Sommer Vorpahl; and numerous nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; beloved husband, Earl; brothers, Arnold Severide and Raymond “Buddy” Severide; and sisters: Adeline Amdahl (Lyle), Helen Heier (Norris) and Beatrice Tilleros (Kittle).

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