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1931 Ilene 2022

Ilene Geneva Brown

February 22, 1931 — December 2, 2022

Ilene Geneva (Haugen) Brown, 91, of Fergus Falls, MN went home to our Lord on December 2, 2022.

Ilene was born February 22, 1931 to Harold G. Haugen and Inga H. (Thompson) Haugen, at their two-story farmhouse located in Aurdal township, ten miles outside of Fergus Falls, MN. Mom’s fondest and most precious memories were of that farmstead they call “Mary’s farm” as she’d play on the second-floor balcony with her doll she’d gotten for Christmas from her parents and life was good. By age six or eight (first or second grade) Mom and her siblings walked two miles to a one-room country school, District #143. In third grade the Depression hit, which caused a chain reaction to include the loss of their family farm forcing them to move. They then rented a farmstead called the “Rolstad farm” and later rented another farm called the “Groser.” It was ten miles east of Fergus which the kids transferred to yet another country school in District #80 where they walked two and a half miles one way.

By ninth grade (age 14) and succeeding levels of education meant to drive ten miles to Fergus Falls, where they attended Washington High School. From that point forward their family unit was forever changed. It was too far to walk, nor were there such a thing as a school bus, neither was it feasible for their father to drive the children to high school daily and manage the farm. It was customary for rural children of that age during that era to drop out of school to help with the family farm. Two of Moms’ three brothers and one sister did just that. However, Mom though it very important to finish her education in which Grandpa honored her decision. This came at a cost, which meant Mom had to work away from home during the school year and stay in Fergus at only age 14. Mom lived with her older sisters, Ordy age 19 and Gladys age 21, during the school year in town to work with her sisters. The three of them lived in a private house, in exchange for room and board. During the school week they cooked, cleaned, and watched over the children next door, Mr. Berheilher was a lawyer who owned both homes on Lake Alice. Excitingly, every Friday night Moms father drove to town to pick up the girls for the weekends to join their younger three siblings to be a family unit (Rodney age two, Donald age 11, and Harland age 17). The following fall (Moms second year of high school, age 15), she moved into an apartment in Fergus Falls with her oldest sister, Gladys. She worked for the same family as the previous year during the school year as well as in the summers at their cabin. Finally, by tenth grade, age 16, Mom’s father bought their final farmstead in 1946. An 80-acre farm, two miles northeast of Fergus on the Ottertail Lake Road just outside of city limits. Sadly, the perfect scenario quickly turned with the tragic news of their mother’s terminal illness, Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma Cancer. By eleventh grade, 1947-1948, school buses became available which allowed Mom to live at home her last year of high school. The Haugen children lost their mother the fall of 1948, after a two-year battle with cancer. Mom then graduated from high school the spring of 1949. After graduation, Mom left home and took up employment with Otter Tail Power Company as a mail clerk; the same year, she started to date her betrothed.

At age 22, mom quit her job and married Ronald C. Brown from Pelican Rapids, June 14, 1953. They had five children, all but the twins were problematic deliveries.

In 1958-1959, the folks bought a few acres two-miles northwest of Fergus and built a basement house to live in first, until the upstairs was finished in 1962.

Mom was employed many years with numerous jobs to include Fergus Falls Medical Clinic as a mail clerk, then later a secretary with Town and Country Homes. When the twins were ten and in fourth grade, she took a job with Lincoln Elementary School as a teacher’s aide for ten years, until the school closed. Mom said that her most valued work occupation was working with elementary children because of their zest for life. From there, Mom went on to acquire her insurance license, she was employed with an insurance company for a few years while the twins were in high school. After that she continued supplementary employment again as a secretary until she retired at age 62. During those years, Mom had two successful major heart surgeries.

At age 50, Mom took up rosemaling and ball room dance classes with Dad. They truly enjoyed dancing, almost every Friday night the folks went to the Eagle’s Supper Club to dance. They were so graceful and light on their feet. The highlight for us sisters when we came home to visit the folks was the Friday night dances together. Mom loved to write poems, garden, sew, cook, bake, and entertain. Her most prized passion was her faith and her family. At age 60, Mom fulfilled her lifelong dream to visit the “Holy Land” in Egypt where she actually road on a camel and walked where Christ walked.

The folks were blessed to stay in their home until Mom was 89, when Dad passed at age 90 in 2020. From there, Mom moved to Minneapolis but unfortunately within weeks she fell and broke her hip, requiring surgery. She then moved in with her youngest daughter, Diane in Pelican Rapids, just seven weeks after the original move. Mom thrived at Diane’s until her passing which was on her two-year anniversary date from moving in with Diane. Mom was such a joy and blessing with the great-grandchildren. The oldest great-grandkids, Raelynn and Liam spent countless hours playing and even dancing with her by pushing her wheel chair in circles, countless story times and they even helped her with her lifts to transfer. This brought measurable joy to us all.

Ilene was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Inga (Thompson) Haugen; sisters, Gladys Robertson and Ordy Christianson; brother, Harland, and her husband, Ronald C. Brown.

Ilene is survived by five children and their spouses, DeLaine (Mike) Haugen of Minneapolis, Doreen (Dave) Hulbert of Minneapolis, Darwin (Monica) Brown of Mt. Pleasant, MI, Daniel (Michele) Brown of Santa Anna, CA, and Diane (Randy) Hasse of Pelican Rapids; 15 grandchildren, Miranda, Megan, Shane, Kyle, Kelsey, Ashley, Brianna, Jarod, Dara, Reyna, Sarah, Samuel, Solomon, Stephen, and Simon, and eight great-grandchildren, Rosella, Elliana, Raelynn, Dean, Liam, Lillian, Finn, and Kinley.

Visitation: one hour prior to the service at the church
Service: 11:30 a.m. Friday, December 9, 2022, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls
Clergy: Reverend Loren Mellum and Reverend Phil Tobin
Interment: Kongsberg, Fergus Falls

Arrangements are provided by the Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls.
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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, December 9, 2022

10:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Friday, December 9, 2022

Starts at 11:30 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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