Viona (Johnson) Haarstad, 93

Viona (Johnson) Haarstad, 93

Viona Violet (Johnson) Haarstad, 93, of North Oaks, and formerly of Norwood Young America passed away Friday, July 25, at Brookdale Senior Living-Clare Bridge of North Oaks in North Oaks.
Viona Haarstad was born Feb. 21, 1921 at Oak Park to parents Agnes Katherine (Miller) and Ernest C. Johnson. She was baptized and confirmed by Reverend O. W. Berquist on June 14, 1936 at the Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church of Ronneby. She attended District No. 32 in Benton County grades 1 through 8 and graduated from Foley High School in 1938.
After high school, she traveled from their small farm in Oak Park to the Twin Cities, and did housework at the David Comb residence, south of Cedar Lake, where she met longtime and still good friend Virginia (Wolfe) Mutkala. She then attended the Minneapolis Business College and graduated in 1941. There she met another longtime and still good friend, Irma (Pietil) Tanttu. She enjoyed working at Gardner Hardware Company in Minneapolis until Irma talked her into heading out west to Los Angeles where she did office work at North Western Furniture Company.
She was introduced to Conrad Reynolds Haarstad on a blind date arranged by Irmas future husband Eino, who was a Duluth Denfield schoolmate of Connies. (He had discovered that Conrad was in town on shore leave from the Merchant Marines, when he happened to come across his name on a duffle bag at the dry cleaners and pinned on a note to call him. Viona had previously met Eino at a dance back in Minneapolis and had introduced him to Irma.) It was love at first sight and they were married two weeks later in Las Vegas, May 20, 1945.
They lived in Oak Park for a couple of years, while Connie worked in the Milaca Bakery. They then moved to Norwood in 1948 and operated the Norwood Home Bakery, first in the old Americn Legion building down by the railroad tracks (originally using a coal oven and a hand pump for water), and eventually moved the Bakery into a brick building on the main street of Norwood. They made a good match – Connie was the baker, but Viona took care of the books!
As the kids grew up, she eventually ended up taking over the morning bakery deliveries to Cologne, Hamburg and Sauters and found herself working out-front and in the back at the bakery. She and Connie were longtime members of the Church of Peace in Norwood. She was a kind, gentle and generous person. She loved her family and was a friend to all.
She was a long time member (and sometime officer) of the Womens Guild. She belonged to a Sewing Club and was a member of a 500 Card Club that met monthly for over 50 years. Viona and Connie sold the Bakery and retired in 1981. They were able to finally take time to do some traveling before Conrad passed away on April 18, 1995, just short of their 50th wedding anniversary.
Vionas mother Agnes moved into their home after her son/brother, Howard Melvin Johnson, died in 1992. Agnes remained living with her daughter, Viona, in Norwood until December 1999, when she passed away after celebrating her 100th birthday that summer. When Viona was no longer able to stay by herself in her home on Oak Street in Norwood, she moved into the Harbor in February of 2009, because she wanted to continue to live in the Norwood Community. As her dementia worsened, she eventually moved into Clare Bridge of North Oaks in November of 2011, to be closer to her daughter. She remained there until her passing on July 25, 2014, at the age of 93. Her family wishes to thank all of the staff at both The Harbor and Clare Bridge for their wonderful care.
Viona was preceded in death by her parents, Agnes and Ernest (1999, 1961); brother, Howard (1992); husband, Conrad (1995); and son, John (2008).
She is survived by children, Earl (Jane) Haarstad, Pamela (Urho) Rahkola, and Carl (Michelle) Haarstad; grandchildren, Shawn (special friend Sara Oberg) Haarstad, Tim (Carla) Haarstad, Rauha (Sarah) Rahkola, Seija (Jesse) Stratton and Pluma Haarstad; and great-grandchildren, Benjamin Haarstad and Thomas, James and Miriam Rahkola.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Alzheimers Association Minnesota-North Dakota, 7900 West 78th Street, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN, 55439.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, July 30 at 11 a.m., at Church of Peace in Norwood Young America with interment following at Forest Hill Cemetery in Norwood Young America. Pastor Dale Inman officiated the service with organist Nancy Smith and scripture reader Sarah Rahkola. Sara Oberg sang Precious Lord, Take My Hand and Congregational Hymns were Softly And Tenderly, Amazing Grace and Leaning On The Everlasting Arms. Casket bearers were Shawn Haarstad, Tim Haarstad, Seija Stratton, Jesse Stratton, Rauha Rahkola and Sarah Rahkola.
Arrangements were by the Paul-McBride Funeral Chapel of Norwood Young America. Online obituaries and guest book are available at

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