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Lillian Waltonen, 98 Print E-mail
Written by TRF Times   
    Greenbush - Lillian Waltonen, 98, formerly of Middle River, died Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau.
    Funeral services were held Saturday, Oct. 20 at First Lutheran Church, Middle River, with Rev. Rena Peterson officiating. Interment will take place at a later date at the Finnish Cemetery, rural Middle River.
    Lillian Matilda Halme Waltonen was born in Automba, on Feb. 7, 1914, the daughter of Victor Frank and Hilja Matilda (Kahra) Halme. Her parents emigrated to the United States from Finland in the late 1800s and settled in Minnesota. In Lillian’s own words, she was born “In a tar paper, one room rough cabin at Automba, Minn., on a very cold winter’s night.  It was 40 below and snowing.  The doctor came from Moose Lake, Minn., by horse and sleigh.”
    Lillian’s first communion took place when she was confirmed as an adult in the 1940s by Pastor C.O. Hanson at the Finnish Lutheran Church in Middle River. She credits her Grandma with teaching her the first prayer she remembers in Finnish. Lillian believed that the best form of spiritual exercise is to touch the floor regularly on your knees.  
    Besides learning to work hard and helping with chores, for Lillian a typical summer day growing up meant swinging with the neighbor kids and talking about growing up. In the winter, she spent her time going to school, skiing and sliding down hills. Springtime found Lillian and the other school children playing ball, boys against girls and the boys would always win.  According to Lillian, “The boys cheated!” Her favorite games were hide-and-seek and tag, and when the first snow came, they were all busy making a fox and goose ring in school.
    She started school in a one room school house in Automba where she didn’t speak English, only Finnish. She quickly learned English and was able to translate for her father who owned a lumber business.  Her freshman year of school was spent in Alborn.
    Lillian’s first boyfriend was her future husband, Wesley Waltonen. They had one date and from then on it was just the two of them.  They went together for five years before they were married.
    Lillian was united in marriage to Wesley on Oct. 29, 1938 at her parent’s home in Middle River. Later, Lillian and Wesley proudly took over their home and made it their own. They were blessed with their daughter, Lorrie.  Their family worked and farmed there their entire lives.  Lillian said, “I never had a job, but I always worked at home.  I guess I was needed at home.” She tirelessly worked alongside her husband on their farm.
    Lillian was a member of First Lutheran Church in Middle River.  She was actively involved in Ladies Aid, the Quilting Group, and taught Sunday School. Lillian enjoyed cooking, baking and entertaining. Her favorite thing was serving people. She always had afternoon coffee and lunch waiting for anyone. Lillian was an excellent seamstress, sewing all of Lorrie’s pretty dresses. At her home, she loved tending to her flower gardens, the lawn and all of the animals on the farm.
    When speaking of her faith, Lillian said, “My faith is seeing a sunrise or sunset and knowing whom to thank.  How great He is.”
    Lillian treasured her friends.  She said, “My best friends are my family, I love you all dearly.”
    Lillian is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Lorrie and Randy Rose of Middle River; grandson, Justan (Katie) Rose of Zumbrota; great-granddaughter, Sydney Lillian Rose; special daughter, Susan (Bernie) McKigney of Moorhead, MN, as well as many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
    Preceding Lillian in death is her husband, Wesley and brothers, Frank and William.
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