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Gladys M. Anderson, 94

Gladys Marion (Olson) Anderson, age 94, of Cokato, passed away Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, at the Augustana Lakeside Health Care Center of Dassel.

She was born Feb. 5, 1920, in Cokato, to Edwin and Ida (Larson) Olson. Gladys grew up on the Olson family farm, southwest of Cokato, and had one younger sister, Lorraine (Olson) Payette. She had the opportunity to participate in many farm activities normally done by brothers.

Gladys proudly attended Beaver Dam Country School, located on the site of the present Dassel-Cokato High School. After country school, she attended Cokato High School, where she graduated in 1938.

Her parents and friends encouraged her to attend the University of Minnesota, where she graduated with a degree in home economics education in 1943.

Gladys was baptized, attended Sunday school, and was confirmed (1934) at the Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church, where she was active in many of the church activities, groups, and committees. Her teaching talents allowed her to teach the Bethel Bible Series, and her musical talents allowed her the opportunity to play the church organ for Sunday morning worship services, weddings, funerals, and other church-related activities. Gladys maintained her membership there until 2012. She then joined Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Cokato.

Gladys’ early career teaching home economics started in Winona and Elk River. It was in Elk River that her future husband would fly in with his airplane, sweep her off her feet, and bring her back to Cokato.

Gladys married Wesley Anderson June 28, 1947. They lived their entire married life on the Anderson family farm, northwest of Cokato. Two children were born, Harlan (1948), and Shirley (Billigmeier) (1950).

Gladys returned to teaching in Kimball, and then moved on to Buffalo High School, teaching home economics. She found a new teaching interest, physical education, and taught PE at Buffalo Junior High School until she retired.

Gladys and Wesley enjoyed many exciting and successful experiences farming together. They were honored with a number of national awards for their efforts. They traveled well together, seeing most of the US with their young family.

Unfortunately, Wesley passed away in 1969, of pancreatitis. Gladys continued to live on their farm until the last few weeks.

She kept her retirement career busy with church activities and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Gladys had one granddaughter, Katherine (Billigmeier) Higgins; and three grandsons, Steve Billigmeier, Richard, and Mark Anderson. She enjoyed one great-granddaughter, Sophia Higgins; and three great-grandsons, Jasper Higgins, Grant, and Miles Anderson. She was especially proud that all of her grandchildren followed in her footsteps, each receiving a very good college education.

In addition to spending time with her family, Gladys enjoyed gardening, visiting the elderly, playing the piano, walking around the farm, and traveling to places like Europe, the Holy Land, and Hawaii.

One of her life’s highlights was being awarded the Minnesota Mother of the Year by then Governor Al Quie in 1980. She appreciated all her Buffalo teacher friends facilitating this award.

In addition to her husband, Wesley, Gladys was preceded in death by her parents, Edwin and Ida (Larson) Olson.

She is survived by her sister, Lorraine Payette of Atlanta, GA; her daughter, Shirley (Jon) Billigmeier of Orono; her son, Harlan (Mary) of Cokato; granddaughter Katherine (Jon) Higgins; grandsons Steve Billigmeier, Richard (Jenny), and Mark Anderson; great-granddaughter Sophia Higgins; great-grandsons Jasper Higgins, Grant, and Miles Anderson; nieces and nephews; and other relatives and friends.

The funeral service took place Saturday, March 1, at 1 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Cokato.

Visitation was Friday, Feb. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Swanson Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato, which handled the arrangements; www.swansonpeterson.com.

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