Marcella "Sally" Demgen (nee Sheldahl), age 103, of Willmar, passed away Sunday morning, July 2, at Bethesda Grand in Willmar.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, August 4, at Bethel Lutheran Church. Interment will be at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the church. Memorials are preferred to Bethel Lutheran Church or the Sheldahl First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church (c/o the Osmund and Anna Sheldahl Memorial Society). Arrangements are entrusted to the Peterson Brothers Funeral Home. www.petersonbrothers.com
Sally was born at her family home in Sheldahl, Iowa, on October 5, 1919, the fifth of nine children of Anna (Anderson) and Martin Sheldahl.
She attended the community school where she enjoyed gymnastics and was a local celebrity on the basketball court. Following her graduation in 1937, she enrolled in the RN program at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines, graduating in 1941. Over the next decade she practiced at Iowa Lutheran, the Mayo U.S. Army Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, the VA, and at a private clinic in Des Moines.
On August 18, 1950, Sally married Ralph Demgen at her family home. They had three sons.
In 1957, the family moved to Willmar, Minnesota, where she resided for the remainder of her life. She joined Bethel Lutheran Church where she worked on the altar for decades. Eventually she became a member of the church board, chair of the Bethel women, and unofficial chair of the Bethel widows.
Sally was the consummate volunteer. She helped lead the Willmar RN Club for more the 50 years, staffed the bloodmobile and was the smartly clad and perfectly coifed vaccination lady. (The boys were much relieved on the occasions when she administered sugar cubes rather than injections to their school mates.) As the neighborhood nurse, she patched up countless children who had limped to her door with cuts and abrasions. Also, beginning in the early 1970s, Sally provided transportation to church women who she described as the "older ladies."
Sally was a patron of the Barn Theater and West Central Concert Series, and never missed a play or concert when the boys were involved. She enjoyed family trips, extensive travel related to Ralph's business, and annual pilgrimages to central Iowa for community and nursing school reunions.
She was a voracious reader, collector of antiques and vintage clothing, and a photo archivist.
When playing with her grandchildren, Sally was a get-down-on-the-floor grandma.
A few months after her 100th birthday, Sally moved to Bethesda Grand at the outset of the COVID pandemic. She died there on July 2, 2023, at the age of 103.
She is survived by two sons: Martin (Mary) and James (Elizabeth), grandchildren John (Sarah), Julia, Alec (Ceci), Sally, Margaret, Ellen and Anna (Ben), great grandchild Calvin, her sister Ardelle Gifford, and a host of nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, her son Joseph, and seven siblings.