was born in Minneapolis  and baptized in the Seminary Chapel. Again keeping house for grandma in Albert Lea, Thilda did office work for Rev. J.C.K. Preus at First Lutheran Church part time. Hagbard worked whenever work could be found.

Finally, after ten rugged years, their goal was reached when he graduated, received a call to three churches in North Dakota and was ordained 5 Nov 1933 in Albert Lea. What a day of thanksgiving, with many Bible promises fulfilled in their lives.

Thilda's duties in the congregations were the usual ones for a pastor’s wife: Sunday School, Bible Study, women’s church organizations and choir when needed. She welcomed another “trust’ as the mother of Paul Wennes Egertson, born in the Litchville parsonage on a blizzardy North Dakota prairie night. (As this is being written, he is busy in his first year as Bishop of the S. California West (Los Angeles) Synod of the ELCA.)

The next church served was St. Paul’s Lutheran in Minneapolis. When Hagbard’s brother’s wife died during childbirth in 1938, God gave Thilda the responsibility to take this beautiful baby boy to her heart for two years.

In 1941 Hagbard was called to a large church in Los Angeles. Their oldest son, Jordan was killed in an accident there. Although life almost stopped, Heaven now seemed closer. Pastor began radio broadcasts in Hollywood with Margaret at the piano there and at a later church in L.A. as well.

1945 gave the family the joy of a sunny baby girl, Sylvia Wennes Egertson. It was Pastor who decided all their children should bear Thilda’s family name as well as his. While he was a Navy Chaplain in World War II, Thilda "went back to school”. With part time classes she earned a B.A. in Psychology at UCLA, and an M.A. in Special Education at CSU, with a year of Library Science at the University of MN, picking up 5 California teaching credentials en route.

She taught 22 years in the Los Angeles Public School System, two in Lutheran Parochial schools, a term in Christian Ed. at LBIC (a Bible college), and the last ten as a high school librarian.

While Pastor served another L.A. church, Concordia, Thilda made two trips around the world, organizing and cataloging libraries in theological seminaries and teacher’s colleges on American Lutheran Church mission fields. These were in Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, New Guinea and with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Mexico City. Two sabbatical leaves from the L.A. schools and half-sal-ary made this possible. She made visits on four continents including a Christmas Eve in Bethlehem.

A deep interest in reading led into work in the Lutheran Church Library Association boards and the position of national president in 1976. She organized four such chapters in California with workshops in Hawaii and Alaska, the last in S. Australia in 1994, with her “girls” Sylvia and Margarethe. Mailing books to schools, churches and college students overseas has blessed Thilda with new friends, even a namesake in Zambia, Africa...a lovely little black girl they named Thilda Chitalu Tembo, now in the second grade in school.

In 1970 she organized the library of LBIC, a two-year Bible college, as a part-time volunteer for 11 years; the last 11 on the faculty. She retired on her 90th birthday.

Thilda’s high school sweetheart died in 1985 at age 82 after 43 years preaching, counseling and radio. Thilda liked baking bread and pumpkin pies, Hagbard’s favorites, and angelfood cakes for her students. She enjoyed knitting, crocheting, tatting and swimming; but reading, writing and traveling with “her girls” top the list. Their 1992 world trip left Sylvia declaring, “For a world trip, don’t go with anyone but your mother”. Margarethe (Peggy) has called them the “Three Musketeers” since trip one in 1969. Once they had matching luggage, and people stared as they “marched through 16 airports from Paris to Beijing”. Their brother, Paul, sort of scorns travel, once saying, “Thanks, Mom for letting me stay at home”, as his father also said once.

Thilda lives a mile from the ocean, with the gentle Pacific breeze wafting in most days. All she asks is a dependable car and typewriter, the family around, reasonable health and an unfailing trust in God. “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

Ehler, Bernard and Signe (Borness)

(Chris Kolaas)

Bio Photo

Bernard W. Ehler and Signe (Borness) Johnson Ehler

Bernard William Ehler was born 11 May 1906 in Winneshiek Co., north of Ossian, IA. His parents were Joseph Henry and Mary Ann (Beckman) Ehler. He received his education at DeSales Parochial School in Ossian. He worked as a farm hand for Carl and Julia Sersland for a number of years.

Signe M. Borness was born 2 Apr 1911 at her parents' farm north of Ossian, IA. Her parents were Engvold and Cecelia (Thorbjornson) Borness who were immigrants from Norway to America in the early 1900’s and settled in the Ossian area. She received her education at the Lee country school in Springfield Twp. and was confirmed at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church.

Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as birth dates of people that maybe living was not transcribed. See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

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this page was last updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021