Shirley Espelien, 87Shirley Lorraine Espelien, age 87, passed away at Douglas County Hospital on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.
Shirley Lorraine Espelien, age 87, passed away at Douglas County Hospital on Wednesday, September 30, 2009. She was a former resident of Minneapolis and was currently living at Knute Nelson Memorial Home in Alexandria.
She was preceded in death by both of her parents; husband, Glen; son, David; sister, Audrey Leech; and brother, Robert Hagmann.
Shirley is survived by her son, Bruce Espelien and wife, Karen, of Ogilvie; daughter, Annette Helder and husband, Tom, of Brandon; grandchildren, Marie Anderson and husband, Josh, of St. Paul, Daniel Helder of St. Louis Park; great-grandchildren, Lauren and Greta Anderson; sister-in-law, Estella Hagmann; brothers-in-law, Ed Leech, Clarence Espelien, Floyd Espelien and wife, Erma; many nieces and nephews.
Shirley graduated from West High School in 1940. She sang in the school choir, class musicals and took voice lessons at MacPhail School of Music. She attended the Minneapolis School of Business and worked as a bank teller before moving to California and then Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she was a telephone operator. During WWII, she was a USO hostess and volunteered with the Red Cross and war rationing efforts. In 1946 she returned home. She joined the Lake Harriet Methodist Choir and sang with the Cecilian Singers of Minneapolis. Shirley worked at WLOL Radio Station as a music librarian, where she met Glen, who was a radio engineer.
The Espeliens became members of Westwood Lutheran Church in 1954. Shirley and Glen were members of the A Cappella choir. Shirley belonged to the library guild and was active in circles and Bible studies.
At age 39, Shirley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That same year, in 1961, the Espelien family suffered the loss of young David to leukemia. She became an inspiration to us all. She continued to entertain her friends and family and was a good friend to many. Shirley pursued her interests of playing bridge, knitting, reading, painting and creative writing. She loved to write and, with the help of dear friends, left a collection of creative writings for each of her children and grandchildren.
In 1964, Shirley and Glen went to the New York World’s Fair and first experienced handicapped accessible sidewalks and entrances. This experience opened up the world of travel possibilities to the Black Hills, California, Hawaii, the New England states and Pennsylvania. They spent many winters in Texas and Arizona.
Since her husband Glen’s passing in 2003, Shirley lived at Colonial Acres Nursing Home of Golden Valley until the fall of 2007 when she moved to Knute Nelson Home in Alexandria, to be closer to her daughter, Annette.
At Knute Nelson, Shirley continued many of her interests. She played bridge with the Knute Nelson volunteers. Some of her writings were published in the monthly staff newsletter. Shirley enjoyed reading books as she sat in the Healing Gardens. She took part in the wellness program and was an advocate for residents at the home.
A memorial service will be held Friday, October 16 at 11 a.m. at Westwood Lutheran Church, 9001 Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park, MN 55426. Visitation will precede the service, starting at 10 a.m. Memorial gifts are preferred to Westwood Lutheran Church or Grace Lutheran Church, PO Box 7, Brandon, MN 56315 for music or library ministries.
Arrangements are by Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel of Minneapolis.
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