Bessie Julia (Nelson) Engstrom

Bessie Julia (Nelson) Engstrom, 98, of Canton, South Dakota and formerly of Kanawha passed away Monday, May 14, 2018, at the Good Samaritan Society in Canton, South Dakota.

Funeral services for Bessie Engstrom will be Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 2:00 PM at the Kanawha Lutheran Church, 124 West Fourth Street in Kanawha, with Pastors Geoffrey and Char White officiating.  Burial will be held at the Amsterdam Township Cemetery in Kanawha.

Visitation will be held on Friday, May 18, 2018 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at Ewing Funeral Home, 118 East Second Street in Kanawha and will continue one hour prior to services at the church on Saturday.

Bessie Julia Nelson was born on June 16, 1919 in Roland, Iowa to Eli Nelius and Josephine “Margaret” (Hegland) Nelson. She was baptized and confirmed in the Bergen Lutheran Church in Roland, Iowa. She graduated from Roland High School in 1937, attended St. Olaf College, and transferred to Iowa State Teachers College where she graduated in 1941 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. After graduation Bessie taught kindergarten in Kanawha where she met her future husband Ed.

On January 30, 1943, Bessie was united in marriage to Edward J. Engstrom in Roland, Iowa while Ed was home on leave during WWII. The couple made their home on a farm southwest of Kanawha. To this marriage, three children were born. The couple continued to farm until Ed’s retirement at the age of 78, and they lived on the farm until November 2010.

Bessie went back to get her art degree at Drake University in 1966 and started teaching art in grades 1-8 and kindergarten. She was very involved at the Kanawha Lutheran Church and played the organ for over 50 years. She participated in many community activities and organizations.

Bessie was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and neighbor. She was an avid reader and she enjoyed traveling with Ed and their family. Ed and Bessie visited 49 states and 6 continents. She took a great interest in the lives of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Bessie is survived by her daughter Mary Beth (John) Smith of Elk River, Minnesota, son John Engstrom of Des Moines, daughter Sarah (Don) Abbas of Worthing, South Dakota; grandchildren David (Tracy) Smith, Mark (Kelly) Smith, Julie Larson, Matthew Abbas, and Stephanie Abbas; eight great-grandchildren Caleb, Joshua, Seth, Gavin, Ben, Adelyn, Zoe, and Eli; and many nieces, nephews, other family members and friends.

Bessie was preceded in death by her parents, her husband of 68 years, Edward Engstrom in 2011, her brothers Marvin and Paul, and her sister Sarah.


Date: Friday, May 18, 2018
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Where: Ewing Funeral Home – Kanawha
118 East 2nd Street, Kanawha, Iowa 50447
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Date: Saturday, May 19, 2018
Time: 2:00 pm
Where: Kanawha Lutheran Church
124 West Fourth Street, Kanawha, Iowa 50447
Get Directions

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