Esther Helen Allen, age 88, passed away on December 18, 2022, at Lilac Homes in Moorhead, MN after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Esther was born May 18, 1934, to Edwin and Helmina (Hendrickson) Gronhovd in Langdon, ND. She grew up on a farm near Nekoma, ND amidst a close knit immediate and extended family. Esther graduated from Nekoma High School and then from Concordia College in 1955. Esther absolutely loved the field of Education! She began her working career teaching business and speech in Clinton, MN. She then spent time in Washington DC working for Senator William (Bill) Langer. When in Washington, she met the love of her life while taking dance lessons. Clyde and Esther were married June 22, 1958. Following their marriage while still in the DC area, Esther taught for another year. In June of 1959, Clyde and Esther moved to Minneapolis. Bloomington became their home for over 20 years and while living there they had two children, Cindy and Scott. Esther and Clyde then moved to Moorhead, MN. Esther worked as Assistant to President Paul Dovre at Concordia College and spent many hours volunteering and serving her community.
If we listed all the things Esther was involved in, it would fill a book! She served on many committees, organized numerous events and invested in countless lives! Much of her work was done with non-profit organizations.
Bloomington highlights include:
Working with the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, serving on the Bloomington School Board, organizing the national conference for the Orton Society and working as Executive Assistant for Governor Al Quie.
Moorhead highlights include:
Serving as President of United Way of Cass-Clay and serving as the first woman on St. Luke’s Hospital board (later MeritCare and now Sanford). She also chaired that board and received the first Esther H. Allen MeritCare Humanitarian Award, an award that can be viewed in the halls of Sanford on Broadway.
She organized the 1995 visit from the King and Queen of Norway to Concordia College and in recognition, received The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit. She was instrumental in starting the Parish Nurse program and the Women’s Fund, now part of the FM Area Foundation, receiving the YWCA Woman of the Year award in Volunteerism and the Concordia Alumni Achievement Award.
In addition to the King and Queen of Norway, she had the honor of meeting many dignitaries including Presidents Truman, Johnson and Ford and the Dalai Lama.
Over the years she was an active member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Minneapolis), St. Luke’s Lutheran Church (Bloomington), Trinity Lutheran Church (Moorhead) and Zion Lutheran Church (Pelican Rapids).
Esther loved reading and enjoyed book clubs through the years. Traveling was also a big part of her life. Travels included the U.S. and Canada, Namibia, Norway, England, Greece, China and Austria and winter getaways to Sanibel Island in Florida, a favorite spot. She loved learning about different cultures and experiencing new things!
All of these things were great, but her all-time favorite was to organize and entertain family at reunions or at their cabin on Lake Lizzie, a lake where she had honeymooned nearly 65 years ago. Esther loved time spent with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, her nieces, nephews and other extended families. Friends were also a huge part of Esther’s life. Everywhere she lived, worked, volunteered, relaxed and traveled, she made friends. These gatherings almost always included games and lots of laughter!
Esther was preceded in death by her parents, her five siblings and their spouses, a niece, and nephew.
Esther is survived by her husband of 64 years, Clyde Allen, her daughter, Cindy (Tim) Rogness, her son, Scott Allen, three grandchildren, Rachel (Andy) Formantes, Andrew (Lora) Rogness, Peter Rogness and three great-grandchildren, Livvy and Clara Rogness, Isabel Formantes and another great-granddaughter due in June 2023 (She smiled and laughed as she got to see ultrasound pictures just a week before she passed away).
Esther will be remembered for her laughter, her generosity, her passion for helping others and her commitment to making the world a better place.
Join her family at a Celebration of Life service on Friday, January 27 at 2pm with a visitation one hour before the service at Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead, MN. The service will be live streamed for those who are unable to attend in person. In lieu of flowers, donations are preferred to Concordia College (Moorhead), Trinity or Zion churches.