Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
The Passing of June's Parents
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:52
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Henry and Haldis Rolstad - Circa Mid 1960's)
June's Father, Henry "Pops" Rolstad, passed away on 7 October 1969 at the age of 77 years. (2 weeks short of his 78th birthday.) He died suddenly following a second heart attack while doing some of the things he always loved – puttering around the barn. At the time he and Haldis were living on a small farm east of Cameron, Wisconsin. Henry died while June was in Russia on our forensic tour..
Henry was affectionately referred to as "Pops" by all the children. Henry and Haldis were able to share 45 years together before Henry's passing. Sixteen of these years were during the time of the "Great Depression".
Haldis and Henry were married on 14 June 1924 at Prairie Farm, Wisconsin. Haldis at that time was only 19 years of age. Haldis was born in Rodoy, Norway on 3 May 1905...Henry was much older at 32 years of age. This age difference was a significant factor in the marriage prize of a 50th anniversary together eluding them. Their marriage date was on my birthday but 4 years earlier.
Haldis and Henry lived their lifetime together in a series of 5 family home farms in Dunn and Barron County, Wisconsin. Their various homes are listed chronologically below with the time periods involved..
(Photo below right - Haldis and Henry Rolstad - Circa 1949 - living on a farm North of Poskin, WI)
1924-1936 (12 Years) Haldis and Henry's first home together was a small dairy farm at Rural Route, Wheeler, Wisconsin, Dunn County. This would be the Rolstad family home for the years ca. 1924-1936. The Rural Route Wheeler location is just south of old Highway 64 in Otter Creek Township in Dunn County.
Henry had just purchased a new Model T Ford Coupe the year before they were married. This would be the last time he would be able to afford a new car until after the children had all grown and left home to be on their own.
Their first son Richard Herald was born on this farm 20 November 1925. Unfortunately Richard was not a healthy child and he passed away only 7 months later in June of 1926.
Rural Route Wheeler was the Rolstad home when June was born on Tuesday 8 November 1927. June was their 2nd born and would be the oldest of their surviving children. June's three sisters were also born at the Rural Route Wheeler family home. (Betty - 1931, Lenore - 1933, and Lyndell - 1936.)
Ca. 1937-1940: (4 years) The second family home for the Rolstad's was on County Road M, just a few miles north of the city of Colfax in Grant Township, Dunn County. Because good family records are not available, the time period the family lived at this farm home is an estimate. (Ca. 1937-1940)
This was the family home during the birth of Jerry - 1937 and Denis - 1938. This was also a sad time period for the Rolstad Family. The twin girls who were later born on 3 March 1940 only survived a very short time. Joyce Elaine died just one day later on 4 March 1940. Elaine Joyce lived 4 months to die on 5 July 1940. A happy event turned into a tragedy. A dismal testimony to the infant mortality of that time period. All of the children were born at home as was very common in that time period.
Ca. 1941-1948: (8 years) This Rolstad family home was located just a few miles south of Ridgeland in Wilson Township, Dunn County, close to highway 25. This would be the last family farm in which the entire family would be living together. Again, because of the lack of good family records, the time period that the family lived at this farm location is an estimate. This home was referred to as the "Nelson" farm after the name of a previous owner. June was living at the "Nelson" farm when she graduated from Colfax High School in 1946.
Ca. 1949-1954: (6 years) June left home shortly after graduation from high school in order to work in Eau Claire. June's parents subsequently moved to a small farm North of Poskin in Barron County ca. 1949. They lived here for approximately 6 years. It was while living at the Poskin farm that Denis and Jerry completed their high school in Barron.
Ca. 1954-1969: (15 years) Haldis and Henry moved a final time in the mid 1950's to the small farm on the south side of U. S. Highway 8 about 6 miles east of Cameron in Barron County. It was while Haldis and Henry were living at this farm that Henry passed away. This was their retirement home and they no longer were actively engaged in farming. Haldis and Henry lived together at the farm home for approx. 15 years before Henry passed away.
(Photo below right - Henry "Pops" Rolstad Circa 1965)
June's first notice or news of her Dad's death was received on disembarking from her return flight from our Russian forensic tour. June's mother Haldis was crying as June came in the gate at the Minneapolis airport. June thought her mother was crying at the joy of seeing her rather than the sadness of the news she had to give her. The news was particularly overwhelming in that the funeral had already taken place. Our son Dan tried to reach us by phone in Moscow but was unable to do so.
The Unseen World
Some unusual events were reported to have taken place at the site of the last home that Haldis and Henry lived at, prior to Henry passing away. Since Haldis and Henry last lived there, the land and buildings have had at least two (2) or more recent owners. It has been rumored that this farm premises was or now are inhabited by "spirits" and are said to be haunted. This notion was spawned following a visit to the farm by Denis (June's brother) in November 2009 when such suggestions were made to him. Because of this information, I decided to revisit the farm premises and talk first hand with the present owners.
I interviewed Reagan and Mary Gensen on 29 May 2010 at the former Rolstad farm home. The Gensen's are the current owners of the former Rolstad Farm on Highway 8 East of Cameron.) This middle aged couple have been the owners of the farm for 6 years (Since Ca. 2004) and are operating a business as the "Blue Pony Antiques." Gensen's advised that the previous owner was a John Porter who had operated the premises as a Llama farmer. (Porter says he owned it for over 20 years....since Circa. 1984.) Haldis moved off of the farm no later then early 1973 as she married Ed Nedland and moved to Barron 21 October 1973.) John Porter advised that the prior owner before he acquired the property was a Stan Koenig.
John Porter denied any spirit activities during the approx. 20 years he lived there. Our daughter Susan corresponded with Porter in March 2013 and at that time Porter denied seeing or hearing anything unusual during the years he owned the property and resided there!...
"Yes, I am the former owner of the farm. I did live there for over 20 years, and never really felt as though anyone else was there. I did hear of some situations from the current owner, and really didn't know what to think. My personal thoughts were that your grandfather was happy with the way that I was taking care of his farm and liked the way that I was keeping it up." ...John Porter. (14 March 2013)
The Gensen's reported that the most recent incident related to "spirits" and the "unseen World" took place at about 10:00 PM on a Saturday night during the winter months of January or February in the year 2008.
On the day of the event, Reagan Gensen was seated at and using his computer when he heard a "tap - tap - tap" on the southeast window of the house. When this tapping was repeated a second time, Reagan armed himself with a gun and went outside to investigate. When he failed to note anything unusual, he returned inside the house, and again seated himself and resumed using his computer. Almost immediately he felt 4 sharp jabs or pokes in his back like someone had poked him with a finger. A startled Reagan exclaimed to his wife Mary - "This is ridiculous!" Nothing further happened that night. The next morning he discovered that an electrical outlet on the south side of the house appeared to be burned and partially melted. This outlet had been connected with an electrical extension cord to a water tank heater. Apparently the cord shorted out or the outlet box itself shorted out and started a small electrical fire. This in turn melted part of the box and the connection and then burned itself out in/at the box. The Reagan's were of the opinion that the "Spirit" had been trying to warn them of the fire danger to the house. No other unusual incidents have taken place since that time in 2008.
It should be noted that at the time period of the "Spirit" activities, the Gensen's were engaged in "extensive renovations" in the house including a wall change, bathroom and laundry room changes with some form of work on almost every room in the house. I have noted in a review of many internet reports of "Spirit" activities that a common denominator or thread is that such "Spirit" activities take place during periods of renovation or remodeling of the home. Reagan Gensen advised that the "Spirit" activities were timed at the height of their renovation activities...Gensen denies any actual sightings of spirits!
(Photo lower right is the Gensen renovated Rolstad Farm House - 2013)
The Reagan's also reported three other "Spirit" related incidents that have taken place in the time period of their ownership of the farm. All the events were prior to or preceding the above event in the winter of 2008.
(1) One incident took place during the evening in which a noise was heard on the ceiling that sounded like someone was stomping on the ceiling with a pair of "Cowboy Boots." No one was upstairs at the time. (
2) On a second occasion, one evening, Reagan was taking a shower in the bathroom. When he exited the shower, he heard a loud ruckus or commotion from the ceiling attic area above him. Again, no one was upstairs in the attic area at the time.
(3) A third incident was reported by their children one evening as the sound of music and laughter from the upstairs or attic area. Again no one was up in that area at the time.
It had been suggested that since Henry Rolstad had died on the premises, that perhaps the "Spirit" was that of Henry Rolstad. But for the reasons outlined above, this seems to be highly improbable.
Knowing that Henry Rolstad was a devout Christian and had been such for all of his lifetime, it was not logical to me that his spirit would be staying on the premises. If there was ever a person that should have gone directly to heaven it was Henry Rolstad. Certainly he would want to be with Haldis and the other family members who had preceded him.
I have since consulted with Pastor David Glesne for his thoughts in this matter. Pastor Glesne is the senior Pastor at our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley.
Pastor Glesne: "I truly believe in the unseen world and believe it is just as real as the seen world.
I also believe there are spirits in the unseen world that are in contact with this seen world. I do not believe, however, that the spirit of a Christian roams around in that unseen world.
The soul of a believer goes to be with Jesus. But there are counterfeit spirits that want to deceive. So the strange happenings can indeed be real.
Blessings, Pastor Dave."
Grandma Haldis Stroke
June's mother Grandma Haldis (Haldis Charlotte Varnes) suffered a devastating stroke in December 1986 that resulted in the loss of her speech and paralysis of the entire right side of her body. Grandma June drove weekly from her home in Minnesota (200 miles round trip) to see her mother in Wisconsin (spending 2-3 days with her every week) in an effort to bring a little additional cheer into her life and to assist with her care. The attending nurses reported that Haldis knew the day and approximate time of the week that June would arrive. Haldis would be sitting by the window watching for Grandma June's arrival.
During this time period, Haldis honored me by giving me "Power of Attorney" over her legal affairs.
Because of Ed's advanced age he was not able to provide any significant care for Haldis...most of her care was by nursing assistants and or other family members such as Lynda and June..
During several months of Haldis's stroke illness, her daughter Lynda made her home in Rice Lake available for her Mom Haldis care. The nursing assistants worked from Lynda's home to care for Haldis for several months. Eventually it became necessary to move Haldis to the Kanpp Haven Nursing Home in Chetek for her end of life care.
During this time period, June put aside all of her own travel or vacation plans in order to be available for her Mom's needs. June did this not out a sense of duty or obligation but rather out of a sense of love. At first June did this by driving to Rice Lake and Lynda's home while her mother Haldis was there...June would also assist Lynda's family by doing laundry and making the dinner meals on the days she was there. Later when her Mom was moved to Chetek, June would drive to the nursing home in Chetek to assist with providing comfort and love to her Mom. June did this faithfully for almost two years until her mother Haldis mercifully passed away (Knapp Haven Nursing Home, Chetek) on August 28th, 1988..
Haldis was 83 years old when she passed away. Haldis was also a very humble, kind and a very modest lady. It was my honor to have her as my mother in law. Her funeral was held at the First Lutheran Church in Barron, WI. The church was packed. I am sure that Haldis would never have believed that so many people cared about her.
Haldis Marriage to Ed Neldand
In 1973, Haldis remarried to Edward Laurence "Ed" Nedland. The marriage ceremony was done at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley, MN on 21 October 1973 just over four (4) years after Henry passed away. (At this time Edward born 4 August 1893 was 79 years of age and Haldis born 3 May 1905 was 68 years of age. Edwards's first wife Gerda passed away in January of 1973.)
Redeemer Lutheran is the church that June and I were members for over 50 years. June and I were present as witnesses for their private marriage ceremony in this beautiful little Old Chapel.
(Photo on right is Grandma Haldis (Rolstad) and Edward "Ed" Nedland - This is their wedding picture)
For me the event became a little bit of a private joke in that Edward Nedland who was my uncle now became my father in law through the marriage to Haldis.
This marriage resulted in Haldis becoming the Grandmother to "Ed's Grandchildren in addition to the ones that were a part of the Rolstad Family. For some of Ed's Grandchildren, (because of their age) such as Julia Nedland, Haldis would become the only Grandmother they really knew. Ed's first wife Gerda had passed away almost a year earlier.
Haldis and Edward remained married for almost 15 years until Haldis death in 1988. The marriage could be said to have been a good one for both Haldis and Edward. Edward proved to be an affectionate husband. Although Haldis was at times frustrated by Edwards extreme frugality, they did have good times together and both traveled about the United States for the first time in their lives.
June took them both on a coast to coast trip in May of 1977, visiting relatives on both sides of the family along the way. June did all of the planing, navigating and driving during this trip. Ed provided the car and paid for the expenses of gas and the necessary lodging enroute. June had some amusing stories about Ed's insistence that they find the least expensive gas station in town every time the car needed refueling.
Haldis and Ed would later frequently winter in Arizona or Florida. Edward's advancing age was gradually taking a toll. Already in the early 1980's Edward required a wheel chair if any amount of walking was required. The last two years of their marriage were unhappy one's taken up with Haldis stroke in late 1986, Edward died at the Heritage Manor Nursing Home in Rice Lake, WI on 30 March 1989, just 7 months after Haldis passed away. Edward was 95 years of age when he crossed over. Edward was a life long dedicated Lutheran.
(Photo below right -Grandma Haldis (Varnes) Rolstad - Nedland - 1980)
The terms "salt of the earth", "good people", "hardworking", "devout", "friendly", "compassionate", "kind" "considerate", "loving", and "humble" are all terms that could be used to describe June's mother and father, Haldis and Henry Rolstad. The terms are all a perfect fit in every way. Some of these terms are from the list of heavenly virtues. It has been said that "Humility" is the greatest of all of the heavenly virtues and the least sought after.
Their earthly possessions were all modest. Most of us would probably describe their life as rather ordinary and unexciting. Their joys of life were all the simple things and simple pleasures of life. They seemed to enjoy a life of contentment but not without the usual parental worries for the welfare of their children and grandchildren.
Haldis and Henry attended their local Lutheran Church on a regular basis. Their favorite pastimes were spending time with their children and grandchildren.
I have never heard Henry use a bad word, or curse or swear or use the name of the Lord in vain. When angry he would chose his words rather carefully. June recalls a time that a neighbor boy was being mean to her. She heard her father order the boy home by a stern but comical expression: "Git for Home you old gray goose."
I am sure that they both are now living a life of heavenly splendor and excitement far beyond all of their earthly imaginations.
God's promise through Jesus is found in John 14:2 (KJV):
"in my father's house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you..."
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:
Reader Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (31 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.
June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally plumb the depths, the breadth and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label -