Norma Geneva Grenier, 94, of Wahpeton, ND, passed away on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at Elim Care Nursing Home in Fargo, ND. The funeral will be at 1:30 PM, on Monday, December 11, at Breckenridge Lutheran Church. There will be a visitation at the church one hour prior to the service. The interment will be at St. Thomas Cemetery in Kent, MN. Officiating the services will be Pastor Mark Manning. Joseph Vertin & Sons Funeral Home in Breckenridge, MN, has been entrusted with Norma’s care.
Norma Gunness was born in Abercrombie, North Dakota, on June 13, 1923, on the family farm, the ninth child and the sixth daughter of Ole and Mathea (Bergehagen) Gunness. Norma recalled helping her father as a young girl make door-to-door milk deliveries in Abercrombie. She attended grade school and high school in Abercrombie, graduating in 1941. She then attended Valley City Teacher’s College but because of the teacher shortage at that time, she began teaching at a one room country school near Colfax, ND, after only one year of college. She also taught at the Kent and Wolverton Country Schools.
It was a treasured custom of this era for small towns to hold dances. The North Dakota Norwegians began to mingle with the French from the Minnesota side of the Red River. It was at one of these dances that Norma met Chester Grenier of Kent, and they were married on November 15, 1944, Abercrombie. They were blessed with three children, Bonnie, Laurie, and Kelly. For a short time they resided on the Gunness family farm. When Chester began farming with his brother, they moved to the Grenier home farm. In 1951, they bought a farm near Doran, MN, where they lived and farmed until Chester bought a bussing business in Kent. During this time Norma was a substitute teacher and Title I teacher in area schools. Norma and Chester lived in Kent until 1972, at which time they became caretakers of the Park Manor Hi-Rise Apartments in Breckenridge.
Norma was a skilled cook and an artful baker of traditional Norwegian delicacies. Many summers were enjoyed at their lake cottage on Big McDonald Lake. Chester and Norma attended numerous auction sales, looking for antiques for Chester to restore and sell. Norma was active at Breckenridge Lutheran Church where she especially cherished her quilting group. She was involved with the St. Francis Hospital Auxiliary group and served on the Kent school board for 15 years. She also kept busy with crocheting, sewing, crossword puzzles, and Scrabble. After retiring in 1986, they spent 13 winters in Texas. Chester passed away on February 14, 2002.
Norma will be missed by her children, Bonnie (Tom) Wold of Walcott, ND, Laurel Halgren of Apple Valley, MN, and Kelly (Sandy) Grenier of Rochert, MN; her 6 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren; and her brother, Arnvid (Betty) Gunness of Alexandria, MN; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ole and Mathea and her husband, Chester; a grandson, Chad Wold; 3 brothers, Melvin, Clarence, and John; 6 sisters, Olga, Esther, Anna, Myrtle, Helen, and an infant sister, Alice.