FRIESLAND - Elberta Swaagman, 86, of Friesland, was called to her heavenly home, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, at the Golden Living Center - Continental Manor in Randolph, following a stroke.

Elberta was born at home on Jan. 6, 1925, outside of Sioux Center, Iowa, the daughter of Clarence and Gertie (Proper) Mol. She attended Welcome School #5 until the 8th grade. She worked as a nanny and housekeeper for many families in the Chicago area as a young woman and as a nurse's aide at the hospital in Hull, Iowa. In 1950, she was introduced to a young widower, Henry Swaagman. She and Henry were married on May 18, 1951, and she became a wife and a mother to Henry's two young daughters Karen and Katherine. Hank and Birdie recently celebrated 60 years of marriage together. Their marriage was blessed by three daughters Gail, Ruth and Merrie and a son Harry. Elberta was a member of the Second Christian Reformed Church of Randolph. After her marriage, she worked part time as a nurse's aide in a nursing home on Fox Lake, and at the canning factory in Cambria during the packing season. Birdie enjoyed being a farm wife, gardening, canning, raising chickens, shucking hickory nuts and running the household. She loved to read and to write descriptive letters that made the words come alive, in her distinct, beautiful handwriting. Over their marriage, they enjoyed traveling to numerous states to visit their children, grandchildren, and relatives. Birdie greatly loved the sun's warmth and they spent many years wintering by their daughters in Florida after they sold the farm. Her greatest pleasure though, was being a devoted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and the time spent visiting with those who loved her. She had a listening heart and a compassion for others.

Elberta is survived by her loving husband Henry of Randolph; her children Katherine (Ken) VantHoff, Cambria; Gail (Harvey) Schans, Lantana, Fla.; Harry Swaagman, Friesland; Ruth (Robert) Agnew, Poynette and Merrie (John Korah) Lewis, Westfield; her son-in-law Bruce (Jean) Braaksma, Friesland; her 14 grandchildren; Sheila (Jeff) Link and Lance (Stacy) Braaksma; Tara (Dale) Cupery; Benjamin (Allison) Schans and Joshua Schans; Monica, Shawn (Amy) and Mandy Swaagman; Travis (Amy) Agnew, Leah (Todd) Romin and Megan Agnew; and Nicolaus (Stephanie) Rock, Season (Adam) Eichhorn and Jarvis (Erica) Lewis. She is also survived by 17 great-grandchildren Braeden and Ziarra Link; Alanah Braaksma; Hope, Seth, Noah and Gabe Cupery; Elias Agnew and Trace, Kylan, Hudson and Truett Romin; Jordan Rock and Jobe, Cohen and Evalynn Eichhorn and Jaxson Lewis. She is further survived by her brother Peter (Bertha) Mol and sister Angeline (Marion) Boersma; brother-in-law Dick (Ruth) Swaagman; sisters-in-law Kathryn Minnema, Helen (Cornelius) Katsma, Benty Navis, Edna (Jim) Fisher and Lucille Swaagman, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, daughter Karen Braaksma in 2006; infant grandchildren, Kathryn and Aaron VantHoff; sister and brother-in-law Kathy and Fran Medema and Alice and Clarence Katsma; brother-and sister-in-law Neil and Grace Mol and brothers-in-law George Minnema and Darvin Swaagman.

The funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday, Dec. 10, at Second Christian Reformed Church, 332 Tamarack St., Randolph; with visitation immediately prior at the church from 10 a.m. to the time of service with the Rev. Karl Bratt officiating. A luncheon will follow the service, and burial will be in the Friesland Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund is being established in Elberta's name.

The family would like to give special thanks to the caregivers, doctors and nurses at both the Beaver Dam Hospital and Continental Manor who showed Elberta respect and kindness during the time since her stroke. When her time had come, the window was opened and her soul was released, Praise God, Our Father in Heaven!

Randolph Community Funeral Home is serving the family. Online condolences may be sent at

More from WiscNews