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Ellen M. (Knutson) Smith-Beckstrand, age 85, of Litchfield died on Saturday, May 26,2018 at the Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield. Funeral services will be held at 1:00 PM on Friday, June 1, 2018, at the First Lutheran Church in Litchfield. Visitation will be from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Thursday, May 31st at the church and will continue one hour prior to the service. Interment will be in the Ripley Cemetery in Litchfield.
Ellen Marie Knutson, the daughter of Carl and Cecelia (Stokke) Knutson, was born on July 10, 1932 in Swedes Forest Township, Minnesota. Her family moved to Clarkfield where she grew up and attended school. She graduated from Clarkfield High School in 1950. Ellen moved to Minneapolis and worked for the Superintendent of Schools in Hennepin County. On February 10, 1951 she was united in marriage to Harvey L. Smith at the Clarkfield Lutheran Church. While he served in the military in Korea, Ellen lived in Dawson near her family. Following his service they moved to Minneapolis and various other places including Paynesville. They lived there for ten years and she was the first female school bus driver for the Paynesville School Dist. They moved to Litchfield in 1968 and she drove school bus, worked at J.C. Penny and Gilbert Dick Insurance. In 2004 Harvey passed away and three years later she married Donald L. Beckstrand at the First Lutheran Church in Litchfield where they were members. She enjoyed reading, sewing, embroidering, and baking. She also enjoyed camping, travelling; whether around Lake Ripley or south for the winters. Ellen was very social and made many friends easily. Ellen was very proud of her Norwegian heritage and her family and friends were the center of her life.
She is survived by her children Cheryl (David) Homolka of Shakopee, Leland (Nancy) Smith of Brooklyn Park, Diane (Thomas) West of Litchfield; step-children and their families Connie Dresser, Nickie (Greg) Jans, DonLee (Peg) Beckstrand, and Pennie Beckstrand; grandchildren David Jon, Andrea and James Homolka, Angela (Nathan) Schaefer, Aaron (Angela) Smith, Julie (Ryan) Olson, and Daniel (Heather) West; great grandchildren Emitt, Lucy, Nora, Haddon, Harper, Rylan, Sylvie and Lucy. She is also survived by her brother Richard (Betty) Knutson, sister Bertha Voss and sisters-in-law Estella Smith, Betty Knutson, Randine Knutson; special cousin Marlene Kjersten and other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, both husbands, an infant son, and brothers Murlon Knutson and Burton Knutson.