Viola Bohr

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 6:19 pm

Viola Bohr, age 95, of Decorah, passed away on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, at Wellington Place Nursing Home in Decorah.

Mass of Christian Burial will be 11 a.m. on Friday, March 1, 2024, at St. Benedict Catholic Church 307 West Main Street, Decorah, with Rev. Donald Hertges presiding. Burial will be in the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Cemetery in Ossian.

Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m., until the time of service at the church on Friday morning. The Helms Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Viola Marie Bohr was born on Oct. 25, 1928, the daughter of Anton and Mathilda (Hagemen) Bohr, near Ossian IA. She was the oldest of 7 children. When Viola was 10, her father became ill and by the time she was 12, he had passed away. She immediately had to assume the role of an adult as she was her mother’s “next in command”. One memory her siblings had was her frequently forgetting to put salt in the bread…they never let her forget that one!

In high school, Viola loved to learn, graduating in just 3 years. She was also proud of her achievements on the basketball court. Viola was the epitome of being a “lifelong learner”. After graduating from St Francis DeSales HS in 1945, Viola went to Minneapolis and was educated as a lab tech. This was quite a feat for a single woman in the 40’s! She lived with a couple there and exchanged housekeeping services for room and board. During her working career, she was employed at the Waverly and Cresco Hospitals, Lake Forest Illinois Hospital, Mercy Hospital in San Diego, Calif., and Schoitz/Covenant Hospital in Waterloo, eventually becoming the Lab Department Manager. She continued to work towards getting her BA in Biology at the University of Northern Iowa and her MA in Health Management from Central Michigan. Even after retirement, Viola continued to seek out learning opportunities and became a Massage Therapist, with her claim to fame having Ron Steele, from KWWL News, being one of her clients!

She embraced new experiences and never shied away from a challenge. One of her adventures in her life included joining Care Medico Services and spending 2 years in Algiers and Afghanistan providing lab technology services. She shared stories of the cultural uniqueness and of the challenges of being a woman in the 60’s in the North African/Middle Eastern countries. Traveling never bothered Viola. She and her brother, Jerry once drove home from California, literally sleeping on the side of the road (on the ground!) instead of getting a hotel. Once she returned to Iowa, Viola traveled home most weekends to assist her mother once again. And during that time, she became a large part of her nieces and nephews’ lives making many batches of freezer corn, strawberry jam, and quilts. They always loved seeing Aunt Viola driving in her little Volkswagen Bug.

In 2000, Viola moved “back home” and embraced her life in Decorah by volunteering at Aase Haugen, helping establish the Low Vision computer, working with the Geneology Association, and being a part of the Catholic Daughters of America and St. Benedict Rosary Society. If you knew Viola, you knew she always had a rosary in her hand and wore out more rosaries than we can even count as she frequently gave her family rosaries to “fix”. She had many prayer books but was very deliberate about which prayers she would pray or not pray. In one prayer book, she clearly crossed out a prayer titled “Prayer for the Lonely”. When asked about it, she said, “why would I pray that prayer, I’m not lonely”. A single woman her whole life and never once considered herself lonely. During her later years, she enjoyed spending time with her siblings playing word games, going to the “Boat”, watching the Cubs and reminiscing about days gone by.

Viola was fearless and faithful. She had a quiet strength and gentle soul who encouraged others to “go do your thing” She did not demand attention, and yet made an impact on all she encountered. Viola knew her life’s journey was coming to an end and waited patiently for the day when she would be called home. Her lifelong deep faith gave her the strength to approach death with peace, grace, and acceptance. She was an inspiration to many til her last breath and she will be dearly missed.

Viola is survived by her brother, Duane (Connie) Bohr, her sisters, Arlene Bohr, Jeanne (Bohr) Lechtenberg and many nieces and nephews.

Viola was preceded in death by her father Anton (1942); mother, Mathilda (1995); brothers Wilfred (1999) Linus (2001), Gerald (2023); sisters-in-law, Arlene (2012), Evelyn (2016); brother-in law Duane Lechtenberg (1988); nephew, Kevin Bohr; and niece, Amy(Bohr) McClure.

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