Elaine Louise Fjelstad, age 79, of Viroqua, passed away unexpectedly at her home on April 6th, 2020. She was born on March 4th, 1941 to Albert and Alice (Hanson) Thompson. Elaine was raised on the family farm in Retreat, Wisconsin. She was baptized, confirmed and an active member of South West Prairie Lutheran Church near Ferryville, Wisconsin for many years. On July 20th, 1968 she was united in marriage to Willard Fjelstad at South West Prairie Church. She and Willard were long-time members of Freeman Lutheran Church until moving to Viroqua. She then became an active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church until her death. Elaine was a strong, intelligent woman with a calm and caring nature. She graduated from DeSoto High School in 1959. She graduated with a degree in education from UW-LaCrosse. Teaching was her passion, and her passion touched countless lives over the years. Her students will always remember her as their fourth-grade teacher who brought history alive by reading the “Little House on the Prairie” books with them. In addition to teaching, she and Willard worked together on their farm and in their business, Fjelstad Sawmill, Inc. Elaine did the bookkeeping for the company. She also served as an accompanist and church organist for decades for South West Prairie and later Freeman Lutheran Churches. She played for many weddings, funerals and other special events. She always put others before herself, taking a hiatus from her beloved teaching to raise her daughter, Ann, and again to become caretaker for Willard as his health failed. Her ability to balance work, faith and family made her an incredible role model for her daughter. For some, Elaine will most be remembered for her ability to make the best lefse, sandbakkels, sugar cookies and, most famously, her rainbow jello. She always had cookies and coffee ready for you. Hosting large family gatherings gave her great joy. Her greatest love in her later years was for her grandchildren, Will and Zach. She was a doting grandmother who was ever present at their musical performances and special events.
Elaine is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Drs. Ann and Abe Liebeskind of Neenah, Wisconsin, her two grandsons William and Zachary, and her special “granddog” Baxter. She is also survived by her loving brother, John Thompson, and many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her husband Willard, her parents, her sister-in-law, Linda Thompson, and Willard’s nine siblings and their spouses.
The family would like to thank Colleen Henslin, Amy Mathison, Cindy Turner, Merle Thompson and many other friends and special cousins for filling her life with friendship and joy. They would also like to thank Deborah Prior, MD and Kari Amrhein, RN of the Hirsch Clinic for their loving care.
Due to current pandemic restrictions, a private viewing and family burial will take place in the Viroqua Cemetery in April. A memorial service celebrating her life will be held at a later date at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Viroqua. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.thorsonfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family would be honored if any memorial gifts were directed to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Viroqua or to the Elaine Fjelstad Memorial Scholarship Fund*for Viroqua-area students entering the teaching field.
*Scholarship-related gifts could be made payable as a check to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region with “Elaine Fjelstad Memorial Scholarship Fund” in the memo line. Contributions may also be made online at www.cffoxvalley.org/Make-A-Gift.
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