Florence O. Holen, 94, of Westby

florence holen

Florence Ovedia Holen, 94, of Westby, passed away on October 13, 2017 at Norseland Nursing Home in Westby.  She was born to Otto and Fredricka (Stafslien) Bakkum on October 30, 1922, the oldest of four children.  During the early to mid-1940’s she spent several years working in shipyards in Sturgeon Bay and Duluth in support of the war effort. On January 31, 1949, she married L. Norman Holen in Coon Valley, and together they farmed in the local area, ultimately returning to her home farm on Spring Coulee Ridge. Following Norman’s death in 1981 she continued to be active on the farm, supporting her son Jon and his family and she resided there until her health necessitated a move to the Bothne House in Coon Valley. For all but a few of her 94 years she lived where she was born on property homesteaded by her grandparents.

She was a lifelong member of the Coon Valley Lutheran Church where she was a member of WELCA, the Anna Circle and a participant on numerous committees.


Florence was known for her Lefse baking and for many years kept busy rolling and baking throughout the fall months so that people had a supply for the holidays. Florence’s passion was family history. She could be counted on to know relationship connections for seemingly everybody in the Coon Valley area and was always ready to weave family threads into conversations.  Florence was also extremely giving of her time and her talents.  She was quick to do whatever she could to help someone less fortunate – whether it was providing baked goods, sewing cradle caps, making quilts, or repurposing clothing.  She was never idle and could not understand how people could ever possibly be bored.

Florence is survived by her son Jon (Debra King) of Westby, her grandsons, Austin (Kim), Bronson, Anthony and Culin (Mandy), as well as two great-grandchildren (Kimberly and Kaitlin Florence). She is also survived by four sisters-in-law, Verna Bakkum, Elizabeth Veum, Helen Holen, Margaret Guy and Marilyn Ekum, three brothers-in-law, Alton, Raymond and Dennis Holen, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and nephews.

She is pre-deceased by her parents, her husband, Norman, her siblings, Margaret Olstad, Joseph Bakkum and Raymond Bakkum, brothers-in-law Howard Holen, Leonard Olstad and Orben Holen, as well as various Bakkum and Stafslien cousins.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday October 19, 2017 at the Coon Valley Lutheran Church. Rev. Mitzi Miyamoto will officiate. Friends may call at the church on Thursday from 9:30 until service time.
Condolences (5)Add Comment
written by Kristine Gillingham, October 15, 2017
I am so very sorry for your loss. Florence was so very special and will always hold a special place in my heart.
I am Thankful to have been able to spend time with her and sing to her, upon her request. Many will miss her and always treasure her caring heart.
written by Judy Bakkum Franze, October 15, 2017
My deepest condolences with the passing of Aunt Florence. She was one of kind, so very special, and deeply loved. I have so many fond memories of Florence, and one of my fondest, is her laugh. I will forever think of her smiling and laughing. She loved her family, and I feel honored to be a part of that family. Aunt Florence will be deeply missed, but she will forever be in our hearts. She was loved by all. "Until we meet again."
written by Debi Stuntebeck, October 16, 2017
Sincere condolences on Florence's passing. Lots of memories of time spent and conversations with her. Our thoughts are with you and your family Jon.
written by Connie Hendrickson, October 16, 2017
So sorry for your loss Jon and family. She was a special lady and I know my grandma loved visiting her when they were both at Norseland. May your memories bring you comfort.
Professor, University of Oslo
written by Janne Bondi Johannessen, October 16, 2017
I am so sorry to hear that Florence has left us. I first met her in 2010, when she volunteered to help us studying the Norwegian language in America. Her dear niece Eileen Nelson had seen our advert and thought Florence might be a good candidate for us, which she definitely was. We needed somebody who liked talking with others, as we were doing recordings. She was perfect for this! And we got to learn a lot about the Westby/Coon Valley area and its people through her.

My colleagues and I grew to be very fond of Florence, and we have been back several times over the years, making sure that we met Florence each time. It's very sad that she won't be there anymore when we come next time.

I write this on behalf of many of my students and colleagues: Signe Laake, Arnstein Hjelde, Eirik Tengesdal, Linn Iren Sjånes Rødvand, Kari Kinn, Yvonne van Baal, Alexander Lykke and several others.

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