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Elzene Fay Lundgren, 85, of Wakefield

Posted: 20 September, 2013

Elzene Fay Lundgren, 85, of Wakefield, Nebraska, died on September 16, 2013, in Providence Medical Center in Wayne, Nebraska, after a long illness. A celebration of Elzene’s life will be held at a later date. Bressler

– Munderloh – Smith Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements

Elzene Fay (Thomas) Lundgren was born on April 25, 1928, on the Coyne Place family farm in Holt Township near O'Neill, Nebraska. She was the eldest daughter of the family of ten children born to William Edgar "Ed" Thomas and Nellie Amelia (Harrison) Thomas. Elzene's grandfather, Orville Harrison, was a homesteader in Paddock Township in Holt County Nebraska. She married Clifford Roy Lundgren, son of Clifford Edward Lundgren and Mary Gladys (Rahn) Lundgren of O'Neill, Nebraska, at the First Presbyterian Church in O'Neill on June 9, 1951. After marriage, she resided and worked in O'Neill, Nebraska; Fort Collins, Colorado; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Longmont, Colorado; and in the towns of Madison, Wayne, Dixon, Blair, and Wakefield in Nebraska. After her retirement, Elzene moved to Blair, Nebraska, and then to Wakefield, Nebraska, to be closer to her family.

Elzene was baptized and became a member of the First Presbyterian Church in O'Neill, Nebraska, and later joined the First Presbyterian Church in Wayne, Nebraska. In later years, she was a member of the United Methodist Church in Dixon, Nebraska.

Elzene served for more than forty five years as a public school teacher in Nebraska. Upon graduation from O'Neill Public High School, Elzene earned a two-year teaching certificate from Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. She went on to earn her BAE in Elementary Education with a Theater minor as well as her MAE in Special Education/Reading Resource from Wayne State College. She earned an additional forty five hours from Wayne State College in School Administration and Special Education. Elzene began her teaching career in one room schoolhouses in Holt County, Nebraska, and continued in one room school houses in the Nebraska counties of Madison and Wayne before earning her BAE. She retired from the Randolph Public School District in Randolph, Nebraska, after more than twenty five years of dedicated service to the lower elementary grades and to the Special Education/Reading Resource department. After her retirement, she served as a substitute teacher for the Blair Public School District.

In her earlier years, Elzene loved to garden and preserve. She also enjoyed embroidering and sewing, two interests that served her well as costume mistress for several children's theatre productions while at Wayne State College. Throughout her life, Elzene was a voracious reader. She enjoyed histories and biographies, especially those about Amelia Earhart. She especially loved good mysteries and suspenseful books. She enjoyed listening to books on tape in her later years. She read and wrote poetry most of her adult life and she kept personal and reading journals for decades. Elzene was also a country music lover. She listened to everything from Gary Allan, Blake Shelton, and Lucinda Williams to Jason Crabb, Charlie Daniels, and Willie Nelson. Elzene also loved watching television, especially The Voice, Poirot, Lark Rise to Candleford, American Pickers, Swamp People, and she enjoyed locating where the swampers and pickers were located on the map. She was an auction and yard sale enthusiast long before pickers were cool. Elzene enjoyed watching baseball, especially the Little League World Series, tennis and NASCAR races. She was a loyal Earnhardt fan.

Elzene was an avid birdwatcher and outdoorswoman. She helped with Audubon bird counts and she traveled to Montana and the Rockies several times to participate in historical reenactments. Elzene also spent time as a living history participant at Fort Atkinson in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. She traveled to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and all over the United States with friends and family.

Throughout her years, Elzene volunteered her time to help others. She helped in the kitchen of the Wayne Senior Center, and she helped the Blair Good Shepherd Lutheran Community quilting ladies cut squares for quilts. She also sorted clothing and donated items at the Blair Memorial Community Hospital Auxiliary resale shop. As a Friend of the Blair Public Library, Elzene donated books, items, and food for fundraisers. While still teaching, Elzene donated her time tutoring neighborhood children in reading during the summers.

Elzene had a deep and abiding love for her family, and she served as a caregiver to her sister Geneva Thomas prior to her sister's death from cancer. She helped other family members whenever and however they needed her help, and she treasured any time spent with her grandsons and great-grand children.

Immediate survivors are daughters Sue Ann Mabeus, her caregiver of the home in Wakefield, Nebraska, and Debra Kay Snyder of Wakefield, Nebraska. Grandsons Joshua Loren Snyder and his wife Courtney of Elkhorn, Nebraska, and Jesse William Snyder and his wife Miriam of Remsen, Iowa. Great-grandchildren are Madelyn Ann and Ellie Kay Snyder of Elkhorn and Shaylla Lizabeth and Alex William Snyder of Remsen, Iowa. Elzene is also survived by sisters Betty Joan Dolan of Pleasant Hill, CA; Helen Fern Rager of Gordon, Nebraska; Ann Carter of Goodyear, Arizona; and by brothers Russell Dean Thomas and his wife Judy of O'Neill, Nebraska; and Ray Harrison Thomas and his wife Jean of Ainsworth, Nebraska. Elzene is also survived by a large extended family of cousins, nieces, and nephews as well as friends and her special friend Wallace Merriam of Blair, Nebraska.

Preceding Elzene in death were her parents, her sisters Geneva Jewell Thomas and Vonda Rose Davis, and her brothers Estel Orville Thomas and Robert Edward Thomas; her special cousin Twila Hicks; a daughter Aimee Lundgren, and a grandson Andrew Oak Mabeus.

Memorial contributions are suggested in Elzene’s memory to Alzheimer's Association, the National Audubon Society or to the Gardener Public Library in Wakefield, Nebraska.

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