On May 22, 2013, Elvina Sunwall passed into eternal life, joining her brothers, sisters and parents, in what surely was a day of rejoicing at the feet of Jesus. Elvina died at Aspen Meadows Retirement Community, Billings, two months after her sister, Milly Sunwall died. In fact, at Milly’s memorial service, some 30 Sunwall family members from around the country joined Elvina to share stories, hugs, tears, laughter and singing together, praising God for his faithfulness and mercy.
Born March 6, 1924, on the family farm south of Homestead, Elvina was the 11th of 13 children born to Anders and Margarethe Sunwall, emigrants from Norway. Elvina attended Zich School and in 1942 earned a high school diploma at Froid Public School. She briefly attended Lutheran Bible School in Fergus Falls, Minn., returning to the farm to help after the death of her mother. In 1943 she moved to Conrad and worked as a clerk at J.C. Penny. She returned home again to help the family. In 1948 she finally was able to complete a year of Bible study in Fergus Falls.
Blessed with beautiful singing voice, in 1949 Elvina combined her musical talents and strong faith, playing the piano and singing at tent meetings held by Evangelist Clarence Haaland. She later moved to Billings, and worked at Kress Dime Store as a clerk, then as head of the children’s department. A visiting company executive commented her department was “the nicest organized department” he’d ever seen. In 1950 she took a job at Deaconess Hospital laboratory, Billings, as an histologic technician. She kept that position until her retirement in 1989. In 2009 she moved to Aspen Meadows with her sister, Milly.
Elvina loved traveling Montana’s beautiful mountains, enjoyed her home city of Billings and had deep affection for family, especially the babies. Her nieces and nephews recall Elvina was the “fun” aunt who loved to play games and let them to drive her “new” car. Elvina enjoyed music, needlework, traveling and baking. A devout Christian she had a profound faith and trust in Christ. She attended Billings Bible Church and later Yellowstone Lutheran Brethren Church.
Elvina is survived by sisters-in-law, Frances (Lief) Sunwall, of Fergus Falls, Minn., Geraldine (Kaleb Sunwall) Sutter of Eagle Grove, Iowa, and Frances (Aril) Sunwall of Sidney; 26 nieces and nephews; and over 60 grandnieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers and sisters, Nils, Esther, Alma (Sunwall) Thompson, Philip, Kaleb, Thelma (Sunwall) Erickson, Aril, Ruth, Miriam (Sunwall) Erickson, Lief, Samuel and Milly; seven brothers- and sisters-in-law; and nieces Martha Erickson and Doreen Sunwall.
Elvina wished to not be the last of her brothers and sisters still living. However, after Milly died, Elvina simply said she was “ready to go” yet trusting in God’s perfect timing. While she will be deeply missed, we rejoice in all the years spent in her company, the love she showered on all, and the assurance she is at home in the arms of Jesus, healed and whole.
Her memorial service is 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson, Billings. Her ashes will be interred at Sunset Memorial Gardens following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome in behalf of Lutheran Brethren International Missions, P.O.B. 655, Fergus Falls, Minn., 53567. The family is deeply grateful to the wonderful staff of Aspen Meadows for the skilled, loving and attentive care they gave to Aunt Elvina as well as Aunt Milly. Both felt cared for, and appreciated the friends and relationships they developed there.
Remembrances may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com.