Sylvia Retrum

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Sylvia Ellingson Retrum

Sylvia Ellingson Retrum

December 30, 1918 – July 18, 2017



Sylvia Ellingson Retrum, 98, died Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at the Glenwood Retirement Village.  Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Sunday, July 23, 2017 at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church in Benson.  Visitation will continue from 10-11 a.m., followed by the funeral at 11 a.m., Monday, July 24, 2017 at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church.  Interment will be in West Bank Cemetery. Arrangements are with Zniewski Funeral Home of Benson.


Sylvia Ellingson Retrum was born on December 30, 1918 in Mandt Township, Chippewa County, the daughter of Jens J. and Ragna (Olson) Ellingson.  She was baptized on February 19, 1919 and confirmed in 1933 by Rev. C.T. Jenson at the Mandt Lutheran Church.  Sylvia grew up on the family farm in Mandt Township and attended country school through the 8th grade, graduated as Class Valedictorian from Milan High School in 1937, and completed Montevideo Teacher Training in 1938.  She taught at 3 different country schools over 7 years: 1 in Westbank Township in Swift County and 2 in Chippewa County.  On June 9, 1945, Sylvia was united in marriage to Orrin “Ray” Retrum at Mandt Lutheran Church by Rev. C.T. Jenson.  This union was blessed with more than 70 years of marriage and five children. The first two died in infancy, Susan was born in 1950, Kenneth in 1953, and Robert in 1956.  After raising her children, Sylvia returned to teaching as an aide in the Benson School District.


Sylvia was active as members of Mandt Lutheran, Westbank Lutheran, and Our Redeemer’s Lutheran churches and in her Westbank, Benson, and Texas communities.  She was a member of the Sons of Norway, Our Redeemer’s Quilters Club, American Lutheran Church Women President and Sunday school teacher at Westbank Lutheran Church, and a 4-H club leader.  Sylvia also volunteered for 9 winters in Harlingen School District in Texas in a program called “Help Students to Succeed”.  She was an avid reader and Minnesota Twins fan.  She loved to sing, dance, listen to music, and play cards.  Among the many retirement activities for Sylvia and Ray were 11 winters at their home in Adams Gardens by Harlingen, Texas, many road trips with Rustad Tours of Kerkhoven, and enjoying breakfast and lunch with Texas and neighborhood friends around 19th St. S. in Benson.  Her favorite trip was to Norway for their 50th Wedding Anniversary.


Sylvia passed away on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at the Glenwood Retirement Village. She attained the age of 98 years, 6 months and 18 days of age.  She is survived by her children: Susan (Bruce) Sanders of Brooklyn Park, Kenneth of Crosslake, and Robert (Bonnie) of West Hartford, Connecticut; four grandchildren: Heidi Sanders, Adam (Linh) Sanders, Jessica Retrum, and Michael Retrum; brother, Verdie Ellingson of Moorhead; sisters-in-law, Cecil Ellingson, and Irene (Roger) Ahrndt of Benson; and many nieces and nephews.


Sylvia was preceded in death by her husband, Orrin “Ray” Retrum on June 29, 2015; a baby daughter in 1946; a baby son, David in 1948; her parents, Jens and Ragna Ellingson; 5 brothers: Julian, Orville, George, Calmer, and Russell Ellingson; sister, Idella Ellingson Erickson; step-sister, Bertina Anderson Olson Gustafson; brothers-in-law, James Pederson and Herbert Erickson; and sisters-in-law, Alma Ellingson, Lucille Ellingson, Lillian Ellingson, Norma Ellingson, Marlys Ellingson, and Gladys Pederson.  Blessed be the memory of Sylvia Retrum.

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