Elaine Avonelle “Grandma” Hallum loved butterflies. It is quite fitting that Grandma felt a kinship with butterflies, which are so beautiful and nurture a sense of joy and wonder. And while butterflies may appear delicate, they are capable of demonstrating remarkable strength and stamina as they flutter across oceans and continents. One shouldn’t underestimate butterflies, and one shouldn’t underestimate Grandma. Through 93 years, she appreciated the many joys that life offered and endured her share of hardships and challenges. But she always showed beauty, strength and stamina along the way. Grandma’s journey is now over. She peacefully passed away Wednesday evening, July 22, 2020.
Elaine was the only child of Albert and Emma Bakken. She grew up in the Twin Lakes area and graduated from Albert Lea High School. She turned down an offer from her father to continue with her education at St. Olaf College and instead began her career working for the Albert Lea Tribune. While working there, she wrote letters to soldiers serving in World War II. One of Elaine’s friends, Joyce Hallum, introduced her to one of those soldiers, Don Hallum. After Don’s discharge from the Army, he and Elaine married in 1946 and farmed several hundred acres for four decades. They were members and served at West Freeborn Lutheran Church, Lunder Lutheran Church, and Ascension Lutheran Church
During their farming days, Elaine and Don had five children: Richard Arlen, Robert Duane, Donald Stewart Jr, Donna Sue, and Ronald Allen—all born within a seven and one-half year period. Having that many children in such a short period can be a test for any parents’ sanity, but Don and Elaine persevered and raised all to be contributing members of society. In turn, the five children blessed Elaine and Don with 12 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.
Grandma was not a fan of farming and its inherent risks. She left it to Don to manage those risks. She instead pursued interests beyond the rows of corn and soybeans. She loved working at St. Johns Lutheran Home for over 10 years. She loved to dance to polka and waltz music. She loved baking. In fact, her grandchildren always looked forward to their visits with Grandma because she made delightful treats such as lefse, rosettes, cookies, and doughnuts. She loved playing cards. Even when Don Sr. passed away 20 years ago, Grandma was always up for playing 500 or Rummy or other card games. And Grandma loved her chocolates.
Elaine was predeceased by her parents, her husband Don Sr. and sons Bob & Ron. She is survived by her daughter Donna, husband Randy Soper, and their children (Kurt & wife Amanda, Daniel & wife Arghavan, and Alison Prescott and her children Cameron & Taylor); her son Richard, wife Nina, and their two children (Todd, Ginny & her son Ashby); the mother of Bob’s children Gwen and their two daughters (Cindy, husband Tony Turner and children CJ & Cody; and Susan, husband Kenny Andrews and daughter Hannah); and her son Don Jr., wife Katherine and their five children (Rachel & husband Roger Montes; Rebecca & husband Michael Lupsha; Christina Kepner; Jason Kepner & wife Lais; and Nicole Kepner & son Adrian). She was also close to many cousins.
For everyone in that extended family, Grandma made them feel welcomed and shared her love and wisdom. She had one of those “knowing” smiles (although she disliked smiling for the camera). But when she let that smile shine through, it was clear that she understood the world quite well. She imparted values that continue to influence their lives—treat others the way you want to be treated, work hard, be kind, have humility, and be confident but not arrogant.
The family sends special thanks to the professional and caring staffs at St. John’s Lutheran Home and St. Croix Hospice.
Funeral services for Elaine Hallum will take place at 11am CDT, Wednesday July 29 at Bayview Freeborn Funeral Home, 1415 N Hwy 13, Albert Lea, Minnesota. Visitation will be held starting one hour prior to the service. For those unable to attend due to COVID-19 concerns or other reasons, the service will be live-streamed on Bayview’s Facebook page (“Bayview Freeborn Funeral Home”) starting 5 minutes prior to the service.