Cover photo for Elsie May Skarpness's Obituary
Elsie May Skarpness Profile Photo
1932 Elsie 2022

Elsie May Skarpness

November 6, 1932 — January 5, 2022

Elsie May (Nelson) Skarpness, Age 89, passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, in Moorhead, MN (where she and her husband, Elwood, had lived since January 2018 when they moved in with their daughter, Karen, to be closer to medical care).

Elsie was born on November 6, 1932, in rural Hatton, ND, to Axel and Alma (Ness) Nelson. She was baptized on November 27, 1932, at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Hatton and confirmed on October 31, 1948, at St. John Lutheran Church in Hatton.

Elsie was the second youngest in her family, with six sisters and two brothers, and said that her family often fondly called her and her sister, Helen, the “little girls”. Elsie learned to read at the young age of 4 and was an avid reader all her life. She also loved music, especially playing the piano and singing. She shared her love for both reading and music with her four children, and they all learned to read before starting kindergarten. The hobbies Elsie enjoyed included cooking, baking, embroidery, knitting, and walking outdoors. She walked about three miles a day until she was 85 years old.

Elsie attended grade school and high school in Hatton, ND, where she graduated in 1951. She continued her education at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and obtained an elementary teacher’s certificate upon completion of her studies in 1953. From 1953-1955, she taught elementary grades at Climax, MN, and Halstad, MN. In 1955-1956 and 1957-1958, she taught elementary grades in Circle Pines, MN. Elsie then chose to take time off from teaching to be a full-time homemaker and raise their four children, Lorie, Paul, Mark, and Karen. Elsie later returned to teaching, and from 1985-1990, she served as a Teacher’s Aide at the Sundale Hutterite Colony School in rural Milnor, ND.

Elsie was united in marriage to Elwood Skarpness on June 12, 1955, at St. John Lutheran Church in Hatton, ND. She and her husband served together in parish ministry in Glenville, MN (1958-1967), Chester, IA (1967-1976), and DeLamere, ND (1976-1998). In addition to parsonage and family responsibilities, she served as office secretary and taught Sunday School and Bible School. Elsie was devoted to Jesus as her Savior and Lord and sought to be a faithful witness of His redeeming love. Her quiet faith spoke volumes, and her kind and caring personality was a blessing to many people, especially her family.

Elsie is survived by her husband, Rev. Elwood Skarpness (Moorhead, MN); her children, Lorie of rural Park Rapids, MN, Paul of Honolulu, HI, Mark (Linh Phan) of Portland, OR, and Karen of Moorhead, MN; three grandchildren, Noelani of Honolulu, HI, and Anna and Finn of Portland, OR; and one sister, Norma (Robert) Argall of Valders, WI. A host of nephews and nieces also survive. She was preceded in death by her parents, Axel and Alma (Ness) Nelson; two brothers, Rev. Ernest Nelson and Roy Nelson; four sisters, Gladys Jodock, Hattie Blaufuss, Agnes Collins, and Helen Krueger, and 36 days after Elsie’s death, her older sister Selma Streich of Haxtun, CO, joined them in heaven on February 10, 2022. Seven weeks after Selma’s death, Elsie’s brother-in-law, Lyle Krueger of Puyallup, WA, passed away on March 30, 2022. Elsie also had two sisters and a brother who died in infancy.

In lieu of flowers or memorial gifts to our family, we request that memorial gifts be given to your church or to Hospice of the Red River Valley (1701 38th St S, Suite 101, Fargo ND  58103-4499).

A Visitation from 5-7 p.m. and Prayer Service at 7 p.m. will be held at Wright Funeral Home in Moorhead, MN, on Saturday, June 11, 2022. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, rural DeLamere, ND, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, 2022.

A recording of the Prayer Service can be found here

A recording of the Celebration of Life can be found here

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Elsie May Skarpness, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, June 11, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Wright Funeral Home and Cremation Service-Moorhead

605 2nd Ave S, Moorhead, MN 56560

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Sunday, June 12, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Immanuel Lutheran Church - Milnor, ND

8191 147th Ave SE, Milnor, ND 58060

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