Elvera M. Cordes, 87
Elvera Magdalene Ohlmann Cordes died surrounded by her family on January 3, 2017, on the 26th anniversary of her mother’s death . She died from respiratory failure of unknown cause, following a brief illness. She was preceded in death by her parents, Margaret and Walter Ohlmann; her sister, Doris Bode; her brother, Willis Ohlmann; and an infant grandson, Matthew Cordes. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Marty Cordes; three children, Joanne Cordes Schneider, Kathleen Cordes, Richard Cordes (wife, Tricia Lawrence); five grandchildren, Melissa Schneider (husband, Chris Hooker), Becca (fiancé, Ryan Pirtle-McVeigh), Noah, Aurora, and Sarah Cordes.
Elvera was born on December 3, 1929, on a ranch near Crookston. She was baptized into Christ on December 15, 1929, and confirmed in May of 1944. As a child, Elvera rode her horse to a one-room schoolhouse in Cherry County, where she said she was the best, the worst, and the only student in her class! She attended high school and teacher’s college at Concordia College in Seward, where she met her husband-to-be, Marty. After graduating with a teaching diploma in Elementary Education in 1951, she taught in Illinois for two years, moving there to be closer to Marty, who was teaching in Chicago. Marty finally proposed after a five-year courtship; they were married on August 2, 1953.
Elvera and Marty lived for four years in Granite Falls, MN, where their daughters, Joanne and Kathy, were born. After spending a year in St. Louis, MO, the family moved to Rochester in 1958. Their son, Dick, was born the following year.
Elvera was a stay-at-home mom for many years. After Dick started first grade, she began working outside the home. She taught at Rochester Central Lutheran School and then worked at Mayo Clinic, initially in Epidemiology and Statistics and later in Urology.
Elvera loved music. She played the piano, organ and trombone. She had a beautiful soprano voice, and sang in many choirs. Elvera treated her family to recorded music, frequently listening to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan, motivating her children to do their Saturday cleaning with marches from John Philip Sousa, and preparing for Christmas to the strains of Handel’s Messiah each morning of Advent. On Sunday afternoon drives and long summer trips, the family sang camp songs and songs from Tin Pan Alley.
Elvera enjoyed spending time with her immediate and extended family and with her many friends. She and Marty traveled to every state in the United States, and especially enjoyed touring Germany, the land of their ancestors. She established traditions with each of her children and grandchildren. As the matriarch of the George Ohlmann family of the Sandhills of Nebraska, Elvera was the impetus for the initiation of triennial family reunions and helped to plan the first gathering in 2000. She loved nearly all things Nebraska: windmills, horses, ranches, the rolling prairie, and needless to say, the Cornhuskers! GO BIG RED!!! But she did NOT love snakes.
Elvera connected with people by avidly writing letters and notes, and making telephone calls. She loved to talk and could talk to anyone, anywhere. She would ask all she met, “Where are you from?” and the conversation flowed from there.
Elvera especially loved the Lord. She faithfully attended church all of her life. She participated in Bible studies, LMWL, circles, and Stephen ministries, sang in choir, and otherwise shared God’s love. She was a witness to Jesus throughout her life and in her death. On the day she died, she encouraged her family by saying, “Stay close to the Lord.”
Many thanks to the staff at St. Mary’s Hospital who took tremendous care of Elvera in the last week of her life. The family also thanks the staff for the support they gave the family during that time.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to Redeemer Lutheran Church, 869 7th Ave SE, Rochester, MN 55904, or Channel One (a food bank), 131 35th St. SE, Rochester, MN 55904.
A Funeral Service was held on Monday, January 9, 2017, at Redeemer Lutheran Church at 11:00 a.m. Burial took place at Grandview Memorial Gardens.
Arrangements are entrusted to Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, 5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN 55901 507-289-3600 www.ranfranzandvinefh. com