The Roundup -

Shirley Jean Sanders Ekern, 91, Cottage Grove, MN formerly of Rawson, ND


Shirley Jean Sanders Ekern

Jean Ekern and her siblings were the 2016 Old Settler's Day Honorees in Alexander ND. She joined 15 relatives to lead the parade and eat barbequed beef. She had planned for two years to revisit her childhood home, see the oil wells, and tour Roosevelt National Park. She marveled at the changes brought by the oil boom and the relaxed traffic brought by the oil downturn.

Jean Ekern, 91 years old, died Monday, September 19, 2016 at her home surrounded by her devoted and beloved family. Interment will be with her family in the Union Cemetery, Flandreau, SD.

Shirley Jean Sanders was born in Wittenberg Hospital, Williston, ND Feb. 27, 1925 to Edwin and Edith Swenson Sanders. She grew up on the farm her father homesteaded in 1910 at Rawson, ND. Memorabilia are displayed at the Alexander Settler's Museum.

Shirley Jean attended the Rawson School through the third grade. She was called just "Jean" in fourth grade to avoid confusion with another student and kept the name throughout her life. Jean confirmed her faith at the Rawson Lutheran Church in 1941, where she was church organist. She graduated as the Valedictorian at Arnegard Public School. She earned a B.A. at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN.

She graduated from Fairview Hospital School of Nursing, Minneapolis MN. Jean was a Registered Nurse until she was 85, practicing in Flandreau SD and Morris, Graceville, and Willmar, MN. After retiring she was a Parish Nurse in Morris.

John Ekern and Jean Sanders were married at Trinity Lutheran Church, Alexander, ND on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1948. They farmed at Flandreau, SD. In 1962 they bought Lakeview Lanes in Morris MN, which they expanded to a 12-lane bowling house. They provided entertainment to the community through bowling and roller skating for 35 years. Jean moved from Morris to Cottage Grove MN in 2008.

Jean loved to travel with family and friends. She visited 28 countries and all 50 states. Jean celebrated her 75th birthday on the Nile River and cruised the Panama Canal when she was 83.

Jean celebrated her Norwegian heritage, holding memberships in several organizations and visiting Norway twice. She has coauthored two books of family history and her memoir.

Jean is survived by three daughters and their husbands: Joan and Steven Axdal, Cottage Grove MN; Julianne and John Degenhardt, Woodbury MN; and Jenifer and Jim Watters, Lake Elmo MN. Also surviving are two grandchildren: Joey and Matthew Axdal, Cottage Grove. She is survived by her sister, Clara Louise Rasmusson, Hancock. She is preceded in death by four children by miscarriage, her husband John, her son Erik, her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, Roger and Betty Sanders, Rawson, ND, and brother-in-law Douglas Rasmusson, Hancock, MN.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, October 15 at All Saints Lutheran Church, 8100 Hadley Ave S., Cottage Grove MN. Visitation begins at 10:30 am, and the service will be at 12:30 with luncheon following. Interment will be in the family cemetery plot in Flandreau, South Dakota.


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