February 24, 2024

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Anna Mae Harstad

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Anna Mae Harstad, almost 95 years old, died on Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, surrounded by family.  

A memorial service was held on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Wendell, MN. Burial at Rock Prairie Cemetery. Visitation was from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday at Erickson-Smith Funeral Home in Elbow Lake, resuming one hour prior to the service at the church.

Anna Mae was born May 20, 1928, in Grant County.  Anna Mae was the 9th of 10 children born to immigrant parents John and Anna Moerke.  Her parents died within a year of each other when Anna Mae was about 10 years old.  Anna Mae and younger sister Louise were raised by their older brother Ben and his wife Mildred at the family farm on Ten Mile Lake.

The Moerke kids attended Ten Mile Lake country school across the lake from their farm.  She graduated from Elbow Lake High School.  Anna Mae worked at several jobs in the area, maintaining close friendships with those families.  She was working at Hanson Drug when she became the wife of grain farmer Leonard Harstad.  They farmed and raised their children on the Harstad family farm in Grant County. 

Anna Mae was active in her country church, Rock Prairie Lutheran, serving as a Sunday school teacher, superintendent, and other church activities.  She served as secretary for the NFO (National Farm Organization), and perhaps was most passionate about being the Grant County Cancer Society “Daffodil Lady” for 13 years.  Raising five children meant gardening, canning, and baking, however she eventually had time for golf and traveling.  Anyone who knew Anna Mae knows she loved to go to old time dances.

Christmas cards were signed Leonard, Anna Mae and the 5 J’s:  Joyce, Jack, Janis, Julie, and Jim.  After Leonard died, Anna Mae continued to live on the farm until eventually moving to town, living at Maplewood Manor Senior Living, before moving to the Ashby Living Center where she lived until her death.

Anna Mae is survived by her children:  Joyce (Mike) Aamot, Jack (Cindy) Harstad, Janis (Tim) Bates, Julie (Todd) Vikesland, and Jim Harstad.  Grandchildren include:  Dan Aamot, Joe (Kelsey) Aamot, Brandon (Andrea) Harstad, Aubrey (Logan) Engebretson, Kelly Saltness, Kari (and the late Seth Flor) Saltness, Kate (James) Dahlman, Megan Vikesland, Matt Vikesland, Melissa (Blake Boelens) Vikesland, Haily (Chase) Loeks, and 16 great grandchildren. Anna Mae is also survived by her sister Louise Gislason, sister-in-law Dorothy Moerke, and a wonderful group of nieces, nephews and their families.

Erickson-Smith Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.

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