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Wanda (Olson Nicholson)?Bjornstad 1923-2010

Jul 27, 2010

Memorial service for Wanda (Olson Nicholson) Bjornstad will be Thursday, Aug. 5, at 10:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Emmetsburg.  The Rev. David Morris will officiate.

Inurnment will be in Riverside Cemetery, 1701 West 4th Street, Spencer.

On June 20, 2010, celebrating Father’s Day with her husband and his family at her home in Chandler, AZ, Wanda Jean Olson Nicholson Bjornstad passed away. She was 86 years young.

While the suddenness of her departure has left her family and friends in shock, all who knew her will cherish loving memories of this amazing, vital, active and intelligent woman.

Wanda led a full life with the adage that if you work hard enough you can accomplish anything. She was born to hard-working Iowans of Swedish and Pennsylvania-Dutch descent, Otto and Marie Sibley Olson on Dec. 3, 1923. Raised on a Ruthven farm, Wanda’s hard working instincts were cultivated and her intellectual pursuits nurtured.

In 1946, Wanda graduated from Drake University with a degree of Bachelor of Commercial Science. Armed with her degree and strong wit, she began her teaching career in Perry, where she met husband Clarence Lee Nicholson (Nick), a naval veteran, recently home from the war. Wanda and Nick were married on Aug. 3, 1947 at the Congregational Church in Spencer.

Her life was focused on raising their four children, two girls and two boys, building their photography business, organizing her home and supporting the Emmetsburg community, where Nick served as Mayor from 1958 to 1961.

The Nicholson family resided in Emmetsburg where Wanda worked in a variety of positions in the public school system. Wanda was a secretary at the Emmetsburg West Elementary School for one year and then returned to teaching business five years at Graettinger High School. The next 18 years she was a business teacher at Emmetsburg High School until her retirement in 1987. Although Wanda and Nick divorced in 1969, they remained good friends until his death in 2004.

In 2001, Wanda moved from her beloved state of Iowa to Arizona where she brought her wisdom, strength and incredible good manners. There she met and married a fun and energetic ex-Iowan (Spencer) Jim Bjornstad where they enjoyed a lively, if somewhat short life together full of travel, golf, love and laughter.

Left to relish the memory of her life is Wanda’s dear husband, Jim Bjornstad of Chandler, AZ;  a brother, Stanley Olson (Margaret) of Ruthven; daughters Darca Nicholson of Ukiah, CA and Jeannie Nicholson Anderson (David) of Fergus Falls, MN; sons Craig Nicholson (Kimberly) of Ft. Worth, TX and Kit Nicholson (Pamela) of Park Ridge, IL; step-children, Jeff Bjornstad (Patricia) of Phoenix, AZ; David Bjornstad (Lucia) of Yuma, AZ; and Steven Bjornstad of Phoenix, AZ; a nephew, Kent Olson (Rhonda) of Spencer, and a niece, Kay Roberts-Arbuckle (Dan) of Surprise, AZ.

Wanda gave her open arms and unconditional love and received unbridled “spirit of youth” injections from her grandchildren, Nathanial Schmidt (Becky) of Rockford, MN;  Nicholas Schmidt (Felecia) of Minneapolis, MN;  Denali Lumma (Carl) of Los Gatos, CA; and Alena, William and Anna Nicholson of Park Ridge, IL;   two great grandchildren, Adric and Dylan Lumma of Los Gatos, CA and by the lives of her five step-grandchildren, Kristen and Jason Bjornstad, Scott Bjornstad, Michaela Feldman and Clint Bjornstad, all residing in Arizona. Wanda was also excited about the pending birth of her of her third great-grandchild (to Nat and Becky Schmidt) in September.

Her parents and her stepmother, Clara (Anderson) Olson, preceded Wanda in death.

If you wish, in lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Wanda can be made to any of the following organizations, which where woven into the fabric of her well lived life:

Lost Island Nature Center, Ruthven

Drake University, Office of Development, Des?Moines

Emmetsburg Education Foundation

Five Island Lake Restoration Association

Emmetsburg Main Street Community Theater

PEO (Chapter BK – Emmetsburg, IA) or PEO (Chapter DD – Sun Valley, AZ)