Our beloved aunt and sister-in-law, Solvei Joan Finstad, passed away after 6am Tuesday morning, 9 October 2018, under the care of Dove Health Care Osseo, Trempealeau Co., due to a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.
Born on 31 July 1933 in rural Osseo, she was the last of six children of Bernt and Borghild (Christianson) Finstad. She attended Osseo Elementary School and graduated in 1951 from Osseo High School. Pooling their resources, the family helped pay for tuition so Solvei could go on to college to become a teacher, the first of the family, and a dream once of her mother’s.
Her widowed mother, Borghild, a 1914 Norwegian immigrant from Stange, cleaned and cooked at the Buffington Episcopal Women’s Home on State Street, in Eau Claire, for “room” for herself and Solvei. They lived in one of two servants’ quarters which are now white concrete garages behind Buffington. Note that board was not included, even though she cooked the food! When Solvei was discouraged, her mother told her, “Do you want to be on your hands and knees, scrubbing someone else’s floors, when you are 60, like me?” Each weekend they returned by bus, got off at Hwy 53, and then to her brother Phillip’s rented farm (owned by cousin Perry Finstad) so that they could wash clothes. And, so Borghild could cook or can fruit, vegetables and meats and bake her wonderful buns and bread for their own meals back in Eau Claire. Solvei’s duties were to finish her college assignments.
Receiving her teacher’s certificate in 1952, she taught first grade at Osseo Elementary School, beginning with a salary under $900 for the school year. Attending summer sessions and/or night school brought her a well-earned Bachelor’s degree and later, a Master’s degree plus an additional year from UW-EC. Even with her Master’s, she would not leave her little students. For 42 years, until 1994, Solvei gave herself to those hundreds of first-graders so that they had the best start in reading, writing and in life. She spent so many hours after school grading papers, designing bulletin boards and other projects to enhance their learning experience, preparing for PTA and attending Teachers’ Conferences in Eau Claire, chaperoning various events and going to school herself.
She belonged to her teachers’ sorority, participated in Circle and Bible study and worshiped regularly at Osseo Lutheran Church. And in 1976 she gained Norwegian fluency when visiting relatives in Norway with her mother, sister Hannah Olson and niece Vicky Finstad. The trip was extended because Borghild needed “parts,” a pacemaker!
Solvei and her mother lived in various rental homes in Osseo, until she was finally convinced to build a new home for the two of them. Actually, the brothers teased that they would not move her piano, one more time! The ladies enjoyed that new home so much, thanks to the family’s help and the builder’s skills, and not being forced to leave due to future rent increases.
She is survived by her sister-in-law, Mildred Jeanette Amundson (Bjarne) Finstad, now of Augusta Nursing Home, formerly Strum; seven nieces and nephews: Sonja Borghild Olson (Ronald Eugene) Lawrence, Eau Claire; Dale Norman (Sharon Lou Smith) Olson, Strum; Gregory Allen (Mary Catherine Eggert) Finstad, Minneapolis, MN; Brian Michael Finstad, Minneapolis, MN; Thomas Myren Olson (Donna Jean Stafsholt-Olson [d. 10/21/2010]), Osseo; Victoria Eunice Finstad, Eau Claire; and, Lynn Anthony (Nancy Ann Brott) Finstad, Eau Claire. And surviving spouses, Elizabeth Florence Johnson Olson and Lois Mae Sutton Finstad,
Also, she is survived by 14 great-nieces and nephews, Todd Duane Stendahl; Ross Alan Stendahl, Blair; Trevor John Stendahl, Prior Lake, MN; Richard Ronald Lawrence, Roger Roy Lawrence, Eau Claire; Kimberly Kay Olson, Eleva; David Norman Olson, Strum; Ann Elizabeth Finstad, Minneapolis, MN; Lahna Yael (Finstad) Bidner; Evon Joshua Finstad, Zachary Nathaniel Finstad, Kyle Sutton Finstad, Milwaukee; Megan Liana Finstad, Houston, TX; and Bradley Jerald Olson, Strum; and great-great nieces and nephews and cousins, Myrtle Lorrine Finstad (Charles Marvin) Dodge, Eau Claire; Richard (Lynette) Finstad, Eau Claire; and other cousins in Norway and the USA. And, all her friends and merchants in her special hometown, Osseo. Buy local.
She was preceded in death by her siblings and their spouses: Jane Helen Finstad [d. 12/13/1969] (Gaven Arnold [d.]) Stendahl; Phillip Conrad Finstad [d. 3/10/1977]; Hannah Asora Finstad [d. 3/18/2010] (Norman Myren [d.]) Olson; Bjarne Bernard Finstad [d. 5/8/1996]; and, Victor Raymond [d. 8/19/1977] (Eunice Ovidia Gunderson [d. 7/15/2006] Finstad; three nephews, Gerald Duane [ d. t5/1995] (Audrey [d.]) Stendahl, Dennis Lee “Skinner” [d. 7/3/2011] (Elizabeth) Olson and Mark Daniel (Lois) Finstad.
The family would like to thank Solvei’s steadfast caregiver, nephew Tom Olson, for his nearly daily visits, feeding her when needed, taking her every Friday to have her hair done, driving her to her medical appointments, dining out at the Norske Nook or elsewhere and with other relatives for holidays. All of this meant so much to her. Thank you for the Rev. Lorenz’s pastoral guidance and to the staff at the clinic, hospital and Care Center for their great care for so many years. Lastly, we thank Solvei for her love, quick wit, supporting our grandmother Borghild and encouraging us to get our own education.
Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 13, 2018 at Osseo Evangelical Lutheran Church, 50391 Harmony Street, Osseo, WI with Reverend Terry Lorenz officiating. Internment will follow at Hale Cemetery in Osseo, WI.
Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. until time of services at the church on Saturday.
Memorials may be given to Osseo Elementary School for first-grade teachers to use by them as needed, just like Solvei did herself this year. Online condolences may be left at schiefelbein.com.
Schiefelbein Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.