Helen Joyce (Sturlaugson) Francis

Beloved mother and grandmother, Helen Joyce (Sturlaugson) Francis, age 80, of Edina, Minn. (formerly of Windom) died on July 16, 2015, surrounded by her family at The Lodge on Natchez, a hospice home, in Elko, Minn.

Helen Joyce (Sturlaugson) Francis

Posted on 7/24/15

Helen was the daughter of an agricultural scientist and a hardworking and devoted mother and homemaker. She was born on February 12, 1935 on a farm near Langdon, to parents Victor and Aldis Sturlaugson. She had eight brothers and sisters and attended a one-room school house in her early grades and graduated from Langdon High School in 1952 as class Valedictorian. She primarily worked in banking, bookkeeping and counseling throughout her adult life. She lived in Sacramento, Calif., married and had three children: Kirk, Kathy and Scott. They eventually moved back to the midwest where daughter, Jodi, was born. She was involved in her children’s school and church activities and lived in Windom for over 20 years. She attended Worthington Community College and graduated in 1990 with highest honors. For several years, she worked as a chemical dependency counselor for Southwest Mental Health serving three counties. After she retired from counseling, she worked at an assisted living home before fully retiring. She was a member of the American Lutheran Church in Windom and enjoyed attending school, church, music and theater events her children and grandchildren were involved in. In 2009, her daughters encouraged her to move to Edina to live closer to them.  She was an extremely loving mother and grandmother. From her father, she inherited her scientific mind and love for education; from her mother, a strong faith in God, staunch work ethics and a fierce devotion to family. She was witty, intelligent, a progressive thinker, humorous and had a spunky disposition. She loved reading, music, sang and danced beautifully, enjoyed poetry, politics, sports, and was an incredible cook and baker.

It was her wish to donate her body for medical research and education to the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Anatomy Bequest Program. A Program of Gratitude will be held at the Northrop Auditorium on November 10 at 7 p.m. to honor the 2015 donors. Her family is in the process of planning a “celebration of life” memorial service.

Helen is survived by her four children: Kirk (Leigh) Davis, Simi Valley, Calif.; Kathryn (Jay) Ward, Minneapolis, Minn.; Scott (Geralyn) Davis, Palmdale, Calif.; Jodi Bassekle, Eden Prairie, Minn.; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (and one due in February); brother Dale (Wilma) Sturlaugson, Green River, Wyo.; sister-in-law Bonnie (Lee) Sturlaugson, Park River; sister-in-law Dallas (Vernon) Sturlaugson, Devils Lake; brother-in-law Pete Groff, Sacramento, Calif.; and many extended family.

She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Leland and Vernon, and sisters Lorraine (Fred) Fernandez, Marvel (Pete) Groff, Lillian (Doug) Stoelting, Marian (Jerry) Jonasson, and Judith Sturlaugson.


  1. Our hearts are heavy as we grieve the loss of our mother and greatly miss her presence. I’m very proud of the Sturlaugson family and all their contributions. We’re anxious to travel to Langdon to visit the Sturlaugson farm again and The Langdon Research Extension Center. I have so many great childhood memories spending time at the farm with Grandpa Victor and Grandma Aldis. – Kathy

  2. I am sorry to hear of Helen’s passing. We had so much fun growing up with our large families. Our family were seven children so we loved visiting since all the other aunts and uncles on both sides were small in number. We had a good visit again when we moved to the west coast and she came out to visit for a while. We had lost touch in the later years when we were in different parts of the country. She was a wonderful cousin and we send our love to her beloved family. RIP my cousin.
    Emily & Sibbie Kristjanson

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