Alta Eleanor Onstad (1916 - 2010)

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  • "I am so sorry to hear of Mrs Onstad's passing. I grew up..."
    - Janelle Forquer Houck
  • "I am so sorry to hear of Mrs. Onstads passing. I was a..."
    - Helen McDonnell
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Alta Eleanor Onstad, age 94, died on Oct. 11, 2010, in Helena. She was born on April 7, 1916, to Adolph and Bertha Rasmussen in Platte, S.D., the third of four children. She attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., and taught school in Werner and Platte. Following a long illness, she lost the sight in one eye. She gave up teaching and moved to be near family in Florida. On her way home she stayed with her oldest sister and husband, a pastor in a Lutheran church in Minneapolis. One evening she answered a knock at the door and a student from Luther Seminary was looking for her brother-in-law and wife who were not there. Lyle Onstad introduced himself to Alta and invited her and her young nephew to go with him for an ice cream cone. This began their romance. Lyle graduated from Luther Seminary, was ordained in Plentywood, and was called to serve the churches of White Sulphur Springs, Melville, and Lennep, but first he needed to go back to the midwest and marry Alta, his sweetheart, on Sept. 24, 1942. They lived in White Sulphur Springs until 1944 and met many life long friends including Frank and Lucille Culp.

Lyle was called to serve at Hope Lutheran Church in Bozeman where they lived, served the community and raised their family over the next 35 years. Upon retirement they moved to Manhattan, traveled, fished and enjoyed time together. Lyle died on Sept. 19, 1985. Alta used her strength to learn about independent living. She continued to travel, entertain in her home, and enjoy her grandchildren. She was always delighted to be challenged by anyone who wanted to play Scrabble. In her later years she moved to Helena to be near to family.

Throughout Alta's life, she was most supportive of Lyle and the activities in the churches he served. She sang in the choir, soloed for different events, played the piano and organ, attended Bible studies and women's groups, cooked for the Winter Fair, taught Sunday school and vacation Bible school. She sang with TAMS (Teachers and Mothers Sing). She was faithful to her Lord, studied her Bible every day, and shared God's love to those who crossed her path.

She is survived by her children: Mary L. Wilson, of Fort Collins Colo., and her daughter, Kerri Lea Wilson of London, England; Ruth Gilge and husband Dr. Leroy Gilge of Silverton , Ore., and their children Janelle Gilge of Hillsboro, Ore., and Rebecca Benson, her husband Scott and children George and Rachel of Chelan, Wash.; L. John Onstad and wife Connie of Helena, Mont., son, Dr. L.J. Onstad, his wife Tara and their children Katherine, Andrew and James of Great Falls; and daughter, Naomi McKelvey, her husband Conn and daughter, Nora of Great Falls; her brother Allen Rasmussen of Albuquerque, and numerous nieces , nephews and cousins. She is preceded in death by her husband, Lyle, two sisters, Beatrice Lewis and Edna Lucklum, and one grandchild, Brett Onstad Wilson.
Visitation will begin on today, Oct. 14, 2010 from noon until 5 p.m. at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home. A funeral service is scheduled at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 15, 2010 at the First Lutheran Church, 2231 Broadway. Interment will follow at the Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman at 3:30 p.m. Memorials in Alta's name are suggested to the First Lutheran Church 2231 E. Broadway Street Helena, MT 59601 or Shodair Hospital, P.O. Box 5539, Helena, Montana 59604. Condolences may be given to the family by visiting
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 14, 2010
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