Fern Adelle (Stahlberg) Svoboda, age 89, passed away on March 22nd. She was born at Strathcona, Minnesota on November 19, 1927. She was the second of nine children born to Harold and Olga Stahlberg. She passed away in her home from lung cancer lovingly cared for by her family.
She attended grade school in Strathcona and graduated from Greenbush High School at the age of 15. After high school she continued her education in the nursing program at Grand Forks, North Dakota. Fern married James Svoboda on August 5, 1944 and they made their home on the original Svoboda homestead in Barnett Township where they raised seven children.
Fern worked as a nurse at the Greenbush Hospital for 22 years, then continued working as a nurse at the Greenbush Clinic until she retired in March, 1993.
After the death of her husband James, Fern continued to manage the workings of her farm complete with livestock and a huge garden. She remained strong and active until this past year when she broke her hip and began to have problems with failing health.
Fern was very proud of her “century farm” which has always been owned by a member of the Svoboda family since it was homesteaded in 1908.
She raised horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and even peacocks for a number of years. She once described her farm as an “Old McDonald” farm. She loved the farm. She loved the animals. No animal would die on her watch if she could help it, even if it meant bringing the animal into the house and putting it in the bathtub. She passed on the love of animals to her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
Her granddaughter Shauna said this about her, “ I’m very lucky to have grown up so close to my grandparents. My grandma taught me so much, like loving animals (especially the babies!), making kites from garbage bags, baking, sewing, card games, remembering birthdays, family connections, gardening and annual flowers just to name a few! Of all of the things that I learned from her I feel that the value of time was the greatest of all. She was so giving with her time: time in the kitchen, time in the barn (my favorite!), time visiting with friends and family, and most of all time teaching everyone around her all of the valuable knowledge and skills she accumulated over the years. She valued quality time with her grand (and great-grand) children loving all of us so much. I’m so sad to lose her but so happy for all the wonderful moments.”
Her granddaughter Jessica said this, “Thinking of Grandma, or as my children call her ‘Great Grandma on the Farm’. To truly appreciate this woman, you’d have to have known her whole life story, and sat with her at the kitchen table a while. What a strong and amazing person she was. What an amazing legacy she’s left in the children she has raised. What memories I have from the summers I spent on the farm.”
Her granddaughter Monique said this, “Grandma has always been one of the most important people to me. She is incredibly strong yet so kind. You could hear the smile on her face when you talked to her on the phone. I remember summers on the farm picking eggs, searching for litters of kittens, playing with the pigs, jumping on hay bales. You could never do wrong at gramma’s house. Doesn’t mean that I didn’t hear that I needed to “put on my big girl pants” once in a while. I can see, in my family of women, that she passed that strength and kindness on.”
Life was not always easy. Times were sometimes tough. Fern was always the rudder that “kept the ship afloat”. She was an example of courage and strength. As her granddaughter, Kristine, said, “I pulled strength from Grandma during difficult times in my life. I would think of Grandma and I would just keep putting one foot in front of the other until times got better. ”
Fern was hard working, kind, gentle, loving, fiercely independent, generous. She was always thinking of others. Her many friends and neighbors were always welcome in her home. They knew “the coffee pot was always on”. She was loved by so many people. Her family was her number one priority. She will be missed by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Her death leaves a gaping hole in our hearts.
Fern is survived by six children: Gail (Roxane) Svoboda of Prior Lake, MN; James (Suanne) Svoboda of Fresno, CA; Brach (Janice) Svoboda of Badger, MN; Junieve Lundgren of Badger, MN; Marchelle (Kenneth) Kesler of Bend, OR; Dawn (Ronald) Benkler of St. Francis, MN; her daughter-in-law Carol Halvorson; siblings Wayne Stahlberg, Clark (Rose) Stahlberg, Bryan (Joan) Stahlberg, Gene (Lila) Stahlberg, Gordon (Marie) Stahlberg; her many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren; and many other relatives.
Fern is preceded in death by her husband, James; her son Jeffrey Sheldon Svoboda; her grandchildren Todd Ryan Svoboda, Jeremy Gene Lundgren, great-grandson Cody Anthony Thompson; great-granddaughter Ciara “Kiki” Flynn; her son-in-law Eugene Lundgren; her parents Harold and Olga (Sands) Stahlberg; and her siblings Yvonne Belston, Muriel Edwards, and Harold Stahlberg.
Per Fern’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. She will be cremated and buried next to her husband in Barnett National Cemetery, Barnett Township, which is at the end of her driveway on land which was originally donated to the cemetery by Martin Svoboda, who homesteaded the Svoboda farm. There will be a small family gathering for internment in the spring at a date to be determined.