Cover photo for Arlen Sjerven's Obituary
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1934 Arlen 2021

Arlen Sjerven

April 27, 1934 — March 8, 2021

Arlen M. Sjerven, age 86 of Willmar, passed away Monday morning, March 8, at his residence in Willmar from complications of pneumonia.

A celebration of life service will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 15, at the First Presbyterian Church in Willmar. The service will be live-streamed at In lieu of flowers, memorials to the First Presbyterian Church Willmar or Willmar Kiwanis Club are preferred. A social gathering to honor Arlen will be scheduled at a future date. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home.

Arlen Maurice Sjerven was born to Andy Maurice and Olive Esther (Cavanaugh) Sjerven in rural Andover, South Dakota on April 27, 1934. After living in Michigan during WWII, Arlen’s family settled in Bristol, SD where he graduated high school in 1952.

Arlen enjoyed athletics as a young man, lettering in four sports as a star school athlete. He briefly attended college in Aberdeen, SD before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed at the Amphibious Base in Coronado, CA near San Diego from 1953-1957 and worked in communications, rising to the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class.

Arlen attended Ventura College and San Diego State, graduating with a degree in Speech Communications in 1959. Arlen married Judy Diane Coker in 1959 and moved to Minnesota, where he taught for 7 years at Royalton High School while simultaneously completing his Masters in Counseling at St. Cloud State.

Arlen and family, including three sons Andrew, Mitchell and Jeffrey, moved to Willmar, MN in the Fall of 1970, where he was a Counselor/Director of Admissions and golf coach at Ridgewater College.

Arlen married Sheila Pickrel in 1990 and retired in 1998 after 28 years of satisfying work at the college. Arlen and Sheila enjoyed visiting his three sons and being involved in the lives of his grandkids as well as travel to Alaska, Hawaii and Norway, where they set foot on the ancestral homestead ‘Skjervenbakken’ near Vardal.

Arlen loved people and found fulfillment giving back to his community in many ways, serving in leadership roles in his church, Kiwanis, United Way, the Barn Theater and many other organizations.

Arlen was a die-hard sports fan and took in as many Coyotes, Gophers, Twins and Vikings games as possible.  Arlen was also an avid golfer since 1953 and was able to check off 28 states and 4 countries in his quest to golf the globe, scoring his only hole-in-one in Hutchinson, MN in 2002. His illness in 2014 curtailed his ability to travel and golf but he continued to enjoy the life he and Sheila created until his passing.

Arlen was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Sheila, and sons Andrew (Theresa) of Otsego, MN; Mitchell (Amy) of Santa Barbara, CA; and Jeffrey of Prior Lake, MN. Also, surviving grandchildren Matthew Maurice, Hannah Olive, Madeline Marie and Caroline Mae.

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


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