On August 6, 1927, a feisty, stubborn Norwegian girl named Esther Rasmussen was born the 11th child to Erick and Anna Mathilda (Pederson) Rasmussen in rural Barron County. Esther passed away early Sunday morning, June 16, 2019, at age 91.  When she began grade school at Africa School, she only spoke Norwegian, but she had a quick mind and excelled in school. She graduated from Barron High School in 1945. After high school she joined the Nursing Corps and began her nurse’s training at Luther Hospital. She soon met a tall, dark, handsome man named Duane Keilholtz. They married in April of 1947.  The union would produce seven children. After Duane’s passing, Esther and the troop moved back to Wickware to be nearer her family. In 1958 she met Ervin Skjerly, a wonderful, friendly, pipe smoking widower with three sons. They married on June 7, 1958 after a whirlwind courtship and began their married life with ten children. The “three little girls”soon followed and brought the total to lucky 13.  She stayed at home for the first part of her adult life. She later began working at the Dallas Nursing Home as a CNA. She then went back to school and obtained her LPN degree and began a long career at the Barron Extended Care Unit. After retirement, she did hospice care and nursing care at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp.  She had many interests in her life. One constant was music. There was always music in our house. Mom sang in the church choir and the Sweet Adelines-Hay River Harmony for many years. We always had a huge garden growing up as there were lots of mouths to feed. We enjoyed the bounty of the garden, orchard and berry patches all throughout the year. Mom loved her flowers and grew many different varieties through the years. Even though she was kept extremely busy raising children, she found time to do painting, crafts and stitching, along with sewing lots of clothes. She also enjoyed decorating for every holiday, but her favorite was Christmas decorating. She had decorated Christmas trees in every room, an angel tree, a bird tree, and a Norwegian tree, to name a few.  She was very proud of her Norwegian heritage and traveled to Norway three times. She was an active 40-year member of the Sons of Norway, including serving as lodge president. The church was an important part of her life. Growing up, missing church was not an option. She taught Sunday School and also served on the church council and was very involved in Ladies Aid. And candy, she loved her candy! She always had several kinds available, and all the kids knew which dish to look in and which drawer the extra candy was kept in. When you stopped to visit, she always made sure you ate some of her candy, and you’d better take extra to eat on the way home. She absolutely loved her family and was so proud of each and every one of us. She attended thousands of school and other events for her family, band concerts, choir concerts and so very many sporting events. If there was a way for her to attend, she would go.

She is survived by her children: Judy Keilholtz, Annette (Dwaine) Mason, Randy (Harriet) Skjerly, Nathan (Rochelle) Keilholtz, Bradley (Jean) Skjerly, Debbie (Loren) Teig, Timothy (Terri Knutson) Keilholtz, Steven (Linda) Skjerly, Mary (Bill) Dexter, Karen (Tom) Schaaf, Dawn (Jody) Kunkel, and Connie Dillon. She is further survived by her brother: Marvin Rasmussen, sister: Ardis (Dale) Thorsbakken, sisters-in-law: Ethel Rasmussen, Ardys Keilholtz, Kathleen (Jack) Lucey and daughter-in-law: Jerilyn Keilholtz. She is survived by her 34 grandchildren, 60 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren and one more due in September. She is also survived by two godchildren: Paul Christopherson and Collin Mau, and many nieces, nephews and some very dear friends.  She was preceded in death by her husbands: Duane and Ervin, parents, son: Rick Keilholtz, Baby Girl Skjerly, daughter-in-law: Ruby Skjerly and brothers and sisters-in-law: Rangvald Rasmussen, Peder and Sibyl Rasmussen, Edwin and Wilma Rasmussen, Richard and Ragna Rasmussen, Alf Rasmussen, Henry and Esther Rasmussen and Oscar and Delores Rasmussen, sister-in-law: Annabelle Rasmussen, sisters and brothers-in-law: Minnie and Henry Glaser, Ruth and Alton Anderson and brothers-in-law: Duane Skjerly and Charles Keilholtz.

Funeral services will be (were) held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 20that New Hope Lutheran Church-Pine Creek in the Town of Wilson, rural Ridgeland, with Rev. Michael Sparby officiating and interment following in the church cemetery.  Visitation will be (was) held from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday & also 10-11 a.m. Thursday, all at the church.  Arrangements are with Rausch-Lundeen Funeral Homes, Dallas & Cameron.

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