Cover photo for Gladys Carlson's Obituary
Gladys Carlson Profile Photo
1927 Gladys 2020

Gladys Carlson

January 31, 1927 — December 6, 2020

Gladys Marie Carlson (Benson) passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2020, at the age of 93.

Gladys was born on January 31, 1927 in a farmhouse in Gordonsville, MN, the eldest of four children to Semart and Hilda Benson and was delivered by her great-grandmother Margit. When she was three years old, the family relocated to Osage, MN where she worked hard on the family farm during the Great Depression. Looking for more opportunity, she moved to Park Rapids, MN to continue her education and began working at the Log Cabin Cafe. It was there she met Norman (Smokey) Carlson and they were married on July 24, 1944.

Gladys and Norman settled in Fergus Falls, MN. It was here they began their family of six children and Smokey’s Machine Shop that they operated for 28 years. Gladys and Norman loved to play bingo, dominos, and cards with friends, and they could tear up a dance floor with their two-step and square dance. In their home, you would often hear polka, waltz, and country music playing.

Gladys was an incredible cook. Her home always smelled of the many delicious meals she made for family and friends, including her personal favorites of hot dish, lefse, potato klub, meatballs, and rice pudding. Gladys knew every family members’ favorite meal and made sure it was prepared for their visit. She had a strong personal fashion sense that she carried throughout life and she loved to go shopping for clothing and jewelry with family and friends. She loved to knit and would make blankets for her family for special occasions. She enjoyed her many travels throughout the world, with New York City and Maui being two of her favorite destinations.

Gladys would never say no to a worthy cause and donated her time generously to her favorite organizations; she was a member and volunteer at Federated Church, Eastern Star Golden Rod Chapter, Shriners Auxiliary, TOPS, KOPS, the Red Hat Club, and her special Widow’s Support Group.

Gladys was devoted and loved her family deeply without judgment. She was strong, always a calm listener, and made sound decisions. Gladys always took on a new challenge and accepted change wholeheartedly. She would rise before the sun every day and her unfailing punctuality once found her waiting at a funeral for the hearse to arrive. Even as her health began to fail her, she never missed a birthday or special moment. She was a kind and generous lady who will be deeply missed.

Gladys is preceded in death by her loving spouse of 52 years, Norman; her parents, Semart and Hilda; brothers, James Benson and Thomas Benson; sister-in-law, Alyce Benson; and sons-in-law, Robert Loughlin and Dennis Anderson.

Gladys is lovingly survived by her six children, Richard (Nancy) Carlson, Gary Carlson, Mary Anderson, Deborah (Bruce) Wilen, Jill (Rodney) Hagen, and Kevin (Kristi) Carlson; 12 grandchildren, Rose, Kari, Margit, Blaine, Rebecca, Kelly, Kevin, Erin, Karla, Brian, Candi, and Samantha; 23 beloved great-grandchildren; brother, Gerald (Ellen) Benson; sister-in-law, Terry Benson; as well as many nieces, nephews, family spouses and partners, and special family and friends.

A very special thank you to her nurse Kayla who tirelessly advocated for Gladys and helped her family navigate this pandemic chaos and confusion, as well as all of the staff at the Broen Home and Hospice of the Red River Valley.

A Remembrance Gathering will be held on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at Pebble Lake Golf Course from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Memorials preferred to the Federated Church, Fergus Falls, MN, and Hospice of the Red River Valley, Fargo, ND.

“And on that day, God will make it clear,
What happened down there’s what brought you here.
Your journey's done, such sweet release!
And now my child, you shall have peace.”

Arrangements are provided by the Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls.
Online condolences may be sent to
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gladys Carlson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Remembrance Gathering

Friday, July 24, 2020

1:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Live Stream Service

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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