Cover photo for Carol Willey's Obituary
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1941 Carol 2020

Carol Willey

November 8, 1941 — October 30, 2020

Carol Marie Willey died on October 30th, 2020 in Underwood, MN at the age of 78.

Carol is survived by her husband David James Willey; their children Maria Lynn Rod (Steve), Michael James Willey (Lisa), Ranell Marie Willey, Denise Elizabeth Johnson (Ryan); and their grandchildren, Taylor Rod, Alexandra Willey, Casey Rod, Sophia Davenport, Forrest Johnson, Brianna Davenport, Aymara Johnson, Reid Davenport, Brooke Willey; and siblings Arlene Carls, Gordon Tornberg, Marjorie Klostergaard, Ruth Eirschele, Joyce Walmsley, Donald Tornberg and Larry Tornberg. Her parents, Oscar William Tornberg and Lillian Edna Mae Chadwick preceded her in death.

Carol was born on November 8th, 1941 in Beresford, South Dakota. She graduated from Beresford Highschool in 1960 and went on to attend South Dakota State University, where she graduated with honors in 1964 with a degree in Home Economics.

Carol married David James Willey in 1963. They met in Sunday school, dated in high school, and married as college students. They welcomed Maria in 1967, Mike in 1970, Ranell in 1971 and Denise in 1973. Carol was a member of Zion Lutheran Church of Amor and took an active role in supporting the church and its missions. She sang in the choir, volunteered for various outreach programs to support children, and made quilts for families in need. She enjoyed sewing, reading, cooking, gardening, and cheering for her grandchildren. Above all, Carol loved and cared deeply for her family.

A family memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, November 8th at Zion Lutheran Church of Amor. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorials be sent to Zion Lutheran Church of Amor. The funds will support the Westhaven Children’s Home and local children’s outreach programs. A celebration of life for Carol Marie Willey will be scheduled for late spring or summer in Beresford, South Dakota.

The family would like to share Carol's eulogy, please see below.

Assistance is provided by the Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls.
Online condolences may be sent to

Love of family and helping others is the thread that weaves through the fabric of Mom’s life.

Carol Marie Willey, daughter of Oscar William Tornberg and Lillian Edna Mae Chadwick was born number five of the Tornberg eight. The dairy farm was a busy place. Mom enjoyed dressing up kittens and pushing them in a baby buggy. There is also rumor of her dressing up her younger brother Donnie. Donnie and Mom were playmates and on more than one occasion were chased by big brother Gordon away from the stock tank where they liked to play with their boats in the water. This may be the only story I know where Mom got in trouble. She is the only person that I know that has laid a chicken egg, or so the story goes as told by Mom and Gordon. The children all had responsibilities on the farm. Mom helped pluck chickens, a task that she really did not like, and she also helped in the kitchen. She learned to bake pies with crust that melts in your mouth. You know what I am talking about if you were lucky enough to enjoy a slice of her apple, cherry or Mom’s favorite, pecan pie. She had a nice life on the farm.

The love story between Mom and Dad began young. They met in Sunday school, started dating in high school and married when they were college students at South Dakota State University.

Fast forward a few years and the Willey four were born. Maria, Mike, Ranell and Denise. We didn’t make it easy but she was always there for us. Homemade mac ‘n cheese, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and sugar sandwiches, but only if we ate a healthy sandwich first. She put a lot of miles on the car chauffeuring us around to our various activities. She sewed our prom dresses. Family matter to Mom.

We share fond memories of camping –packed into a station wagon and later the van, we embarked on adventures. Mom cooked a hot breakfast of pancakes and eggs on the Coleman stove and we drank tang. During our stay at the Tetons, we hiked around Lake Jenny and up to Lake Solitude, a mere 14-mile hike. Denise, was only 7 at the time. As we began, Mom said “David, this is probably one of your stupidest ideas”. She wasn’t wrong often, but in this case, she was. Memories of the hike are vivid in our minds.

There are funny memories too like when Mom and her friend Jeanie Stoner bleached each other’s hair platinum blond. Those were fun days for us, as eight kids raced around the house with less supervision than usual. Mom and Jeanie sat at the table with plastic capes, carefully parting each other’s hair and applying the solution. On one occasion, a mouse visited the house during the bleaching ritual and Jeanie jumped on the kitchen table as Mom raced into the garage and armed herself with a garden hoe. So many memories.

The Willey crew along with Donnie, Diane and the boys spent many Thanksgiving holidays at the Eirschele farm. One year, Diane and Mom gave the Eirschele boys a hard time saying that they wanted to go to town and cruise the strip with them. I recall the boys looked toward Ruth with eyes saying “Mom, please save us from these crazy ladies”. Diane and Mom were known to get into some mischief, maybe they are up to something in heaven right now, I hope so.

Every Christmas we made the trek to Beresford to see the Willey’s and the Tornberg’s. We ate, we sang carols lead by her sister Joyce (Maria and Jean always claimed 5 golden rings) and it was tradition to have a special visit from Santa at Grandma T’s. Mom loved to be with family.

Mom and Dad are members of Zion Lutheran Church of Amor and take an active role in supporting the church and its missions. It was important to her to help children in need and childcare at MOPS and the backpack food program are just two examples. Volunteering at Camp Knutson was an annual event. They traveled to Jamaica for mission work many times. Dad fixed things and Mom loved and cared for the children at Westhaven. She believed in doing good works and her impact is felt by many.

Over the years, Mom and Dad hosted so many people at their beautiful lake home. Family, friends, grandchildren’s friends, you name it they had a lot of house guests. Gypsy camp is a much-anticipated annual event and the Brother Sister reunions are cherished days of the Tornberg eight and their spouses. Mom and Dad always had an open door.

Travel was a passion. Armed with a pick-up truck topped with a camper, Mom and Dad explored the United States and Canada. The travel bug grew, and Mom was always planning the next big adventure. They created so many beautiful memories together. The Riverboat tours, learning to cook in Italy, hiking in Peru, a cruise to Cuba…she loved to explore. Mom and Dad would both laugh that they were now the “old people” on the old people vacations! Seeing and learning about the world kept them both young.
Mom loved to sew. She made her own wedding dress as well as gowns all three daughters and her daughter in-law. She made princess dresses and doll baby clothes. We had several years that that grandchildren had coordinating outfits and she would even sew a custom-made boat cover if you asked her enough. She loved to read and puzzle. The puzzle gene appears to be handed down to her daughters.

Quilting grew into a huge passion for Mom. She made beautiful baby blankets for young or expectant Moms. She also made quilts for an outreach group with Zion Lutheran. There are so many quilts in the house at various stages, it was like a one-woman sweat shop. It isn’t a surprise that she loved quilting. The art of taking discarded jeans and fabric scraps, designing beautiful patterns to ultimately create something useful for families in need. Quilt-making embodies Mom’s character, it is a perfect fit.

She was a good wife, Mom and Dad loved each other so much. Dad knows how good he had it and he appreciated and cared for her in return. He loves her dearly. As a Grandma, she ranks among the best. I leave those stories for Taylor to share but I can never thank her enough for the love and support she gave my babies.

Mom led a rich and colorful life. Family and helping others brought her great joy and her good works are felt by many. She will be missed. I am not ready for the final stitch to be sewn on her life quilt. I love you Mom.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Carol Willey, please visit our flower store.


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