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Margaret Esther (Ohlen) Hanson, age 91, of Watertown, SD, passed away on Sunday, May 28, 2023 at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD. Memorial services will be at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 5, 2023 at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Watertown. Rev. Laura Overbo will officiate. Music will be provided by Lynne Osthus as organist with special music from Robbyn Givens and the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer Hand Bell Choir. The family is requested to meet at the church on Monday by 12:30 p.m. for a prayer service.
Visitation will be from 11 am – 1 pm prior to the Memorial service at the church.
Honorary pallbearers are Margaret’s beloved and cherished grandchildren: Keaton, Kyra, Carter, Karston, Emma, Sanders, Olivia & Kaiden Hanson; Reilly, Walker, McCale & Broc Peterson.
A proud Scandinavian, Margaret was born to Swedish immigrants E. Verner and Elna (Soderstrom) Ohlen on October 26, 1931 in Minneapolis, MN. She loved her Swedish heritage and felt great pride that her parents made the voyage to the United States from Sweden.
Margaret graduated as the Salutatorian from Edison High School in NE Minneapolis. She received her BS in Medical Technology from University of MN. She worked as a Medical Technologist Supervisor at the UM Chemistry Laboratory. While at UM, she was sent to Boston for one year to the New England Deaconess Hospital to develop a 5-year Medical Technology program for Northeastern University. In 1960, at the UM, she met the love of her life, Bernie HP Hanson. They were married on July 1, 1961 in Boston, MA. She returned to the UM Hospital as a Medical Technologist where she worked in research at the UM Heart Hospital in Minneapolis. From there, she went to Chicago, IL (when Bernie interned at Cook County Hospital) and worked at the Heart Catheterization Laboratory at the University of Illinois Research & Education Hospital for one year.
Margaret and Bernie lived in several cities/states including: Minneapolis, MN; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Fayetteville, NC; Big Fork, MN and Edina, MN before settling in Watertown, SD in 1972. Their 4 children were all born in different cities along the way: Bernie II was born in 1963 at a private hospital in Chicago, IL; in 1964, Kristin was born at Womack Army Hospital/Fort Bragg-Pope Air Force Base in NC; Bernie was Margaret’s physician when Erik was delivered in 1967 at Northern Itasca Hospital in Big Fork, MN; and Karl was born in 1969 at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN.
Outgoing and gregarious, Margaret never met a stranger. She had a special gift for cooking and entertaining and never missed an opportunity to bring family and friends together. She spent hours creating the perfect presentation for meals with special décor for each event or holiday. There is an abundance of photographic evidence of her beautiful tables and food buffets. Margaret was a member of a Gourmet Club for years and loved sharing recipes and dinners with this special group of friends. She was also the envy of many for her amazing green thumb. Her Swedish Ivy plants were prolific.
Margaret always kept her organizational skills sharp. The ultimate organizer, she loved being complimented on her meticulous drawers, cabinets and shelves. She used her sharpie marker to label everything including food items in her pantry. She insisted that everyone could be organized by taking just a few minutes here and there throughout the day. She never wasted a valuable minute. Margaret was famous for her 10-minute drawer or cupboard cleaning. She would just set her kitchen timer for 5-10 minutes and she was off to the races.
Always energetic, Margaret knew how to get things done. Never a procrastinator, no grass ever grew under her feet. Everyone knew they could count on Margaret if they needed anything done. She was dedicated and dependable. That was a fact. She took great joy in serving the community, church and others and she did it faithfully and with great devotion. Margaret was kind to everyone and was a friend you could count on. She was grateful for the strong relationships she made in Watertown.
Margaret loved “funky” things. She would refer to a shirt, a piece of jewelry or a home décor item as “funky” if she thought it was “cool” and unique.
After living in Watertown for 5 years, Margaret and Bernie decided to build a log home to remind them of their experience in northern Minnesota complete with Norway Pine logs from the area. The house plans started small but expanded as Margaret’s ideas grew bigger. Her flair for design and decorating were incorporated as their dream log home became a reality. She always decorated every nook and cranny of their home for every holiday. She was a holiday decorator extraordinaire.
Margaret also loved to travel and was grateful to tour many countries throughout the world including: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Cuba, Costa Rica, Peru, Galapagos Islands, Egypt, South Africa, Panama, Australia, Israel, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand.
Family was everything to Margaret. She loved her children deeply and unconditionally. Being a mom was her proudest achievement. She was their biggest cheerleader and spent countless hours watching hockey, tennis, swimming, football, softball, baseball and basketball. She was also involved in many of her children’s activities as a volunteer or leader.
Margaret was over the moon when grandchildren started to arrive. Her heart was so full whenever she was with them. She absolutely adored her grandchildren and was the most amazing grandma. She always planned fun cooking, baking and craft activities for her family. There are fond memories of jello making, finger toast, bingo, Easter egg hunts, picking up sticks for a penny a piece, souvenirs from their world travels, making grandpa dress up for Santa appearances, Christmas Nativity Shows (whoever was the baby at the time was baby Jesus), Swedish meatballs, organizing costume parades, coin collections, nail polishing with the granddaughters and tea parties. She loved to host family get togethers at their lake home on Gull Lake in Brainerd, MN where she enjoyed cruising around the lake on the pontoon, bonfires and making smores.
Margaret was a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists as well as the Watertown District II Medical Auxiliary. She received the distinguished South Dakota Volunteer of the Year Award in 1986 which was presented by then Governor Bill Janklow. She was a volunteer leader for the Bluebirds/Brownies/Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts. Margaret also volunteered for 4H Clubs, taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, participated on the PTO and was the Chairperson for the Watertown Support Group for Aging Parents. She also served on Boards for Vo-Tech Home Health, Norwest (Wells Fargo) Bank, Prairie Lakes Home Connections, Inc., Prairie Lakes Home Care United, Lake Area Technical Institute and Watertown Area Council for Aging. In addition, she served on the Watertown High School Parent Advisory Board and Leadership Watertown.
She will be deeply missed by her husband of 61 years, Bernie; children - Bernie II (Sarah), Sioux Falls, SD; Kristin (David) Peterson, Brainerd, MN; Erik (Heidi), Monticello, MN; and Karl (Amy), Grand Rapids, MI. 12 grandchildren (listed as honorary pallbearers), extended family and friends including her special caregiver friends: Linda Bublitz and Sheila Moehring.
Welcoming her home in heaven are her parents and brother.