|Birth: ||Jun. 8, 1913|
|Death: ||Apr. 3, 1994|
St. Clair County
Daughter and 5th of 8 children born to Seaborn Ivy and Dovie (Whitman) Denson in a rural area near Heflin AL. She was the only one of the children to graduate from high school and attend college. Having a love for music, she learned how to sing Sacred Harp music (fa-sol-la), a style of singing (mostly religious in nature) that originated in early America (18th-19th centuries), taught to her by her grandfather, Seaborn McDaniel Denson (see Find A Grave memorial #27673269). She and her family moved to Winston County AL around 1916 or shortly thereafter, and lived on several locations there and also in Lawrenceburg TN for a short period. After she graduated from Meek High School (Arley AL) in 1932, with honors, she obtained a scholarship to attend Florence State Teachers College (now University of Northwest Alabama) in Florence AL to pursue her desire to become a teacher. She was forced to drop out in her 2nd year because she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a sanitarium in Ohio for treatment, near where her oldest sister (Gertrude) lived at the time. She ultimately recovered and worked in New Philadelphia OH as a nanny and around 1940 she moved back to her parent's home near Helicon AL to help take care of her ailing Mother. When WWII broke out, she and some of her friends and cousins moved to Dalton GA sometime in early 1942 to work at a factory that made tents for the U.S. soldiers. Not long after that (mid-1943), her oldest sister had life-threatening surgery, and she moved to Lima OH to help take care of her until she was able to recover. She took a job at a local woolen mill to help with the living expenses. While in Lima OH she received a letter from an Army soldier who found her name and address (from Dalton GA, before she moved to Lima OH; the letter had been forwarded to her new address in Lima) in a tent that he and several other soldiers opened up to use for their winter training in Camp McCoy WI. She and her coworkers had written their names and addresses in this tent to see if they could correspond with some soldiers who were in the Army. The name of the soldier who wrote to her was Gerhard Bjornstad. After corresponding through letters for a short period, he was able to obtain a 3-day pass and traveled by train to Lima OH in order to meet her. They hit it off instantly. He went back to Camp McCoy WI to complete his training and shortly afterword received orders to go overseas, to Northern Ireland for additional training in preparation for the Normandy D-Day invasion. He sent her a telegram with the news and asked if she would come to Camp McCoy and marry him. She responded back with a "yes" and traveled by train to Camp McCoy. However, when they applied for a marriage license, they learned that Wisconsin has a five-day waiting period and they did not have that much time before he was to depart to go overseas. They soon learned that Minnesota had no waiting period so they traveled across the state line to Winona MN and were married at a Lutheran Church there on September 15, 1943. She went back to Lima OH and continued to work at the woolen mill until WWII ended. In 1946, after her husband came back to the U.S. from the European Theater and was honorably discharged from the Army, they moved from Lima OH to Elkhart IN. There were two sons born to this union; David Morris Bjornstad, born on 10 June 1946 in Lima OH and William Brian Bjornstad, born on 11 April 1950 in South Bend IN. She is also survived by 4 grandchildren, Joseph Michael Bjornstad, Erik Daniel Bjornstad, Kathryn Marie Bjornstad, and Matthew Aaron Bjornstad and 2 great-grandchildren, Michael Joseph Bjornstad and Christina Bjornstad. She was very religious and a born-again Christian (her Father was a Church of God preacher) and taught the adult Sunday School class of the churches that she attended. She was extremely knowledgeable of the Bible and did her best to live a Christian life, to be a living example to others. She loved flowers and had many flower beds with roses, peonies, iris, gladiolas, petunias, and flowering trees and bushes (snowball, pink dogwood, lilac) at her home in Elkhart IN. She also loved her entire family, to include all her siblings and their extended families, and cherished the memories of her visits with them every year as most of them still resided in Alabama. She and her husband put in a large garden every year at their Elkhart home and spent countless hours tending to it as well as canning and freezing the fruits and vegetables that were harvested, and always had plenty to give to others. She was also known within her church community, family, and the neighborhood for her excellent skills for baking pies and cobblers. They were the best ever. She made her pie crust from scratch. In 1988, she and Gerhard moved to Belleville IL to be close to their son, William, whose wife, Angela, was soon to give birth to a daughter, their 1st granddaughter. In 1993, she collapsed teaching her adult Sunday School class at the Collinsville IL Church of God and was taken to the hospital, where we soon learned that she had a large inoperable aneurysm on her aorta, located directly above her heart. After being released from the hospital, it was impossible for her to maintain their home due to her health issues and she and Gerhard, along with William and Angela and their two children, purchased a 5-bedroom home in Smithton IL because their house and their son and his wife's house were each too small for six people to live comfortably. She gradually got weaker over the course of her final year and a few days before her death, she slipped into a coma and then she died of heart failure early on Easter Sunday morning, April 3 1994 at home in Smithton IL. If she had to choose a particular day to die, I feel confident it would have been Easter Sunday for what it represented in her Christian faith, a promise of the Resurrection. At her request, she was buried at the Nesmith Methodist Cemetery in Nesmith AL, just a few miles from where she spent much of her childhood and early adolescent years, with her immediate family, aunts, uncles, and many, many cousins on her Father's side of her family. Her husband died on September 6, 1988 and is also buried next to her at Nesmith Methodist Cemetery.
Seaborn Ivy Denson (1882 - 1964)
Dovie Susannah Whitman Denson (1882 - 1943)
Gerhard Bjornstad (1912 - 1998)
Inscription on the back of the monument:
GIVE ME MY HOME
NOTE: This was the title of the first gospel song that she wrote and had published by the Church of God Publishing Co. with the help of her son, David Bjornstad. The inscription includes the musical score of the first two measures of the chorus to the song.
Nesmith Methodist Cemetery
Helicon (Winston County)
Created by: William Bjornstad
Record added: Apr 09, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35678253