Duane was interested in becoming a mortician. He attended Ellsworth Junior College in Iowa Falls and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, IL in Sep 1973. He became a licensed mortician in Iowa, Minnesota and California. In 1986 Duane told us he had been diagnosed with AIDS. The next few years were extremely hard for him and his family. He died 3 Feb 1990. The Lord was with us as Duane had the support and love of his family and friends. His sister, Muriel and husband Orville, took him into their home in June 1989. Jeanette, his mother, got time off work at the Luther College Book Shop and went to stay and care for him from Oct until Feb 1990. How good to be close to the Lord when tragedy strikes. It helps us all become more caring and understanding.

Muriel graduated from Mankato Commercial College in March 1972. She moved to Minneapolis, MN and worked as a secretary for several federal government agencies for eighteen years. On 16 Oct 1982 she married Orville L. Holland at Decorah Lutheran Church. They have two daughters: Joanna Marie and Kelsey Jean. Since May of 1990 Muriel has been home with the girls, enjoying activities with Joanna and Kelsey, visiting grandmas, sewing and being involved with Parent Teacher Association, Girl Scouts and assisting at Sunday School. Her husband, Orville, graduated from Butterfield-Odin High School in Butterfield, MN in 1964 and from Moorhead State College in 1968. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and presently is working as an Appeals Officer for the Internal Revenue Service.

Narveson, Theodore and Ellen (Erickson)

(Cheryl Thompson)

Bio Photo

Ellen and Theodore Narveson circa 1940

Theodore Narveson was born in Winneshiek Co. on 24 Jan 1880. His parents Kjolborn and Kristi (Tollefsdtr) Vettern came to America from Norway in 1869. He was from Krodsherad and she was from Sigdal. When they arrived in this country they used the surname Sorteberg which was the name of the farm on which they resided. After arriving in America, however, they adopted the name

Narveson since Kjolborn’s father’s name was Narve.

Ellen also was born in Winneshiek Co. on 27 Jul 1884. Both of her parents were born in Iowa. Her father, Hans Erickson Ness was the first of his siblings to be born in America. He kept the Norwegian surname Ness, but his children went by the name Erickson. His wife, Guri (later Americanized to Julia) Halvorson Valle came from one of the very first Norwegian families to settle in northeast Iowa.

Ellen and Theodore were married on 29 Mar 1906 in Ellen’s parents' home. They were raised only a few miles apart in the Springwater area. Ellen’s older sister, Mary was married to Theodore's brother, Narve. Their first child, Gladys was born a little over a year after their marriage. When she was only a few months old, Theodore left for North Dakota by train with some livestock and a few supplies and tools. The government made a deal with farmers that if they would agree to farm a piece of land for five years, they could have title to it. This was called “homesteading.” Ellen joined him with her tiny baby a short time later. Their first home was a dugout or sod home, later to be replaced by a frame home.

Ellen told stories of how Theodore would leave home around 3:00 a.m. with a team of horses pulling a wagon loaded with wheat. He would take this to the feed mill in the town of Hagen, 25 miles away to be ground into feed for the livestock. He would either return home late that night or some time the next day. In the wintertime, blizzards would often hit with no warning, possibly leaving him stranded on the way. Fearing this would happen, she told how she would listen in the quiet for the sound of the wagon. Gladys remembered a Christmas when the only gifts exchanged were a handkerchief for her dad and a doll dress for her. A son, Harold was born to them while they lived in Dakota and Ellen was quite pregnant when they arrived back in Iowa in 1914. Their second daughter, Eunice was in April and a year later a daughter Joyce.

After they returned to Iowa, Theodore and Ellen bought and farmed the Narveson “home” place. The farm was located between Decorah and the Springwater Church. There was a long S-shaped driveway which meandered down a hill, over a cement bridge which often had water running over it, around a hill and up another hill to the farm buildings. The farm land was on a plateau west of the buildings. They farmed this land until the late 1950’s when they retired and moved to Decorah.

In the twenties and thirties several things happened that would change their lives significantly. In 1929 Ellen’s sister Lillie died of tuberculosis leaving a thirteen-month-old daughter, Glorianne. At Lillie’s request Theodore and Ellen adopted her and she became their fourth daughter, bringing the pitter-patter of tiny feet to their home again. Their youngest daughter, Joyce became ill with polio and, although she was able to live a somewhat normal life, was never strong again and got tuberculosis causing her death in 1937 at the age of 22. Likewise, their son Harold became ill with tuberculosis and succumbed to it in 1932 at the age of only 19. Several years before, a friend of Theodore's who was an insurance salesman approached him about buying a life insurance policy. Since a policy on a child was not too expensive, he agreed to buy one


Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as birth dates of people that maybe living is not included.

See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021