Charles Tollefsrud, 91, of Mabel, Minn., formerly of Decorah, died Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, at the Green Lea Manor in Mabel, Minn. Funeral services were at 11 a.m., Monday, Dec. 16, at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church in Decorah, with Pastor Mark Kvale officiating. Organist was Kathy Tollefsrud. Soloist was Tonya Tollefsrud. Hymns were "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," "Comfort, Comfort Now My People" and "Beautiful Savior." Special music was "In the Garden." Honorary casketbearers were all of Charles' grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Casketbearers were Jeff Miller, Jason Miller, Davis Erickson, Justin Mottet, Brentt Stepanek, Tim Gunderson, Terry Gunderson and Chandler Erickson. Military rites at cemetery were by Helof Holm VFW Chapter No. 1977, Decorah. Interment was at Washington Prairie Cemetery in Decorah. Arrangements were handled by Schluter - Balik Funeral Home, Decorah.
Charles William Tollefsrud was born Oct. 20, 1922, the son of Jorgen (George) Truman and Selma Marian (Herbranson) Tollefsrud near Hesper, in Winneshiek County. He was baptized Dec. 3, 1922, at the Mabel First Lutheran Church in Mabel, Minnesota, and confirmed at Big Canoe Lutheran Church in 1937. He attended rural schools through the eighth grade. His mother died when he was 13 years old and from then on, he worked for different people in the area to help make money. He was united in marriage to Ruth Lucille Rustad Nov. 28, 1944, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Locust. From Feb. 17, 1945 to Aug. 31, 1946, he served in the United States Army in the 7th Infantry Division, 17th Infantry Regt., also in the Asiatic - Pacific Theater/Japan. He returned following the service and was engaged in farming in the Decorah area until moving to Rochester, Minn., 1965, where he was a carpenter. He helped build the top floors of the Guggenheim Building at Mayo Clinic. They lived there until 1972, when they moved to Hiawatha, where he started his own business -- "Chuck's Sanitary Service." He retired in 1985 and then they moved in April 1991 to Decorah where they built their retirement home. Due to health reasons, they moved to The Meadows Assisted Living Facility in Mabel, Minn., July 9, 2005. Charles entered the Green Lea Manor Nursing Home in Oct. 2007. He loved to dance and he and wife, Ruth went to Matters several times a month in their younger years. Even though he was confined to a wheelchair, Judy Vickerman, activity director at Green Lea said he still had the "beat," with his hands and feet keeping time to the music. Charles enjoyed camping and trout fishing. They took many trips to Phoenix, Ariz. for the winter months, to visit son, Daryl, until his health started to fail in 2000. He also enjoyed when the grandchildren came to visit. During his stay at Green Lea Manor he enjoyed Bingo, and any old-time music, especially polka music and the Jim Busta Band. Charles was a member of the Washington Prairie Lutheran Church.
Charles is survived by his eight children: Cheryl Fish, Shell Rock; Carol (Marvin) Gunderson, Spring Grove, Minn.; Barbara (Tom) Davis, Canton, Minn.; Linda (Leo) Zeig, New Ulm, Minn.; Daryl (Fran) Tollefsrud, Peoria, Ariz.; Rhonda (Mike) Stepanek, Cedar Rapids; Janet Mottet, Cedar Rapids; and Patricia (Randy) Roethlisberger, Cedar Rapids; 19 grandchildren: Lori (Mark) Martin, Larry (Sharon) Phillips, Kevin Phillips, Tim (Allison) Gunderson, Terry Gunderson, James (Kristie) Davis, Jennifer (Peter) Erickson, Brian Miller, Jeff (Jessica) Miller, Jason (Casie) Miller, Kellie (Alex) Logan, Krista (Cory) Murphy, Alissa (Ryan) Rawlinson, Brentt (Kristin) Stepanek, Chad (Jayme) Stepanek, Justin and Jeni Mottet, Maxwell Roethlisberger and Nicole Roethlisberger; 26 great-grandchildren: Amie and Jessica Phillips, Donny Shimek, Shannon Dotzenrod, Lexi, Brady, Zachary, Samuel and Lilyann Gunderson, Brent, Chandler and Davis Erickson, Delanie and Avery Davis, McKayla, Jordan, Emma, Leyton and Reese Miller, Baylee Rawlinson, Liam Logan, Reid, James, Keesten and Raylei Stepanek, and Liliana Roethlisberger; five great-great-grandchildren: Brayden Novak, Ezra Phillips, Zeppelin Gossman, Veda and Hazel Shimek; four sisters: Florence Headington, Decorah; Inga Halverson, Rochester, Minn.; Delores Armstrong, Arkansas, and Margaret Kemple, Rochester, MN. Brothers-in-law: George Kruse and Alan Holkesvik, both of Decorah; sisters-in-law: Shirley (Rustad) Brooks, Houston, Texas, Jeanette Rustad-Stenseth, Decorah; along with many nieces, nephews and great-nieces and -nephews.
Charles was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Lucille Tollefsrud; his parents, George and Selma (Herbranson) Tollefsrud; two brothers, Truman and Gilman Tollefsrud; three sisters: Laverne Hegland, Gloria Lind and Donna Kruse; brothers-in-law: Milo Headington, Duane Halverson, Robert Armstrong, Dick Kemple, Ray Hegland and Bernard Lind; sisters-in-law, Beth Tollefsrud and Irene Tollefsrud; son-in-law, Frank Phillips.