Susan Elaine (Kragnes) Kjelland was born on February 11, 1955 in Fargo, ND to Henry and Evelyn Kragnes. The youngest of 4 children, she spent her idyllic childhood in Moorhead, graduating from Moorhead High School in 1973. Growing up she was actively involved in her church youth groups, directing the junior high worship choir and playing the violin in an ensemble called Apollo Strings that traveled and performed throughout the United States. Sue made friends easily and those friendships remain to this day.
Sue earned her degree in Elementary Education from Moorhead State University in 1977; her lifelong goal was to teach children. She met the love of her life, Michael James Kjelland in high school. After seeing her in the commons area, Mike finally got up enough nerve to ask her on a date, but brought a buddy, Tom Landowski, along. When Mike asked Sue on a 2nd date, she suggested that he not bring a friend. They married on July 30, 1977 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Moorhead.
Moving to Alexandria for Mike's first teaching job at Alexandria Technical College, Sue began her career working at Opal Martinson Nursery School and then substitute teaching at the Brandon School in the spring of 1978. Her career at Brandon spanned 34 years and she was a classroom teacher for 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. She will be remembered as a caring, kind teacher who inspired the love of learning in her students. Favorite classroom projects included watermelon fun, and U.S. state projects. Sue was honored as the Brandon School Teacher of the Year in 2012 retiring that same year. After retirement, she continued to share her love of learning substituting in the Brandon and Alexandria schools.
Mike and Sue were blessed with 2 sons - Andrew Michael born in 1981, and Matthew James in 1985. She was a wonderful mother supporting her sons in T-ball, hockey, wrestling, basketball, and Boy Scouts. Sue was the heart and soul of their home, always welcoming Andy and Matt's friends for ballgames, overnighters, and backyard games. The boys loved her heart-shaped waffles, and caramel rolls on school snow days. .
After retirement, Sue was busier than ever. She was active in her community, at First Lutheran Church, in her neighborhood and with her many, many friends and family. She enjoyed substitute teaching, volunteering for Friends of the Library and Compassionate Friends while also tutoring and helping out at Woodland Elementary.
In her spare time, Sue was a great gardener delivering zucchini, green beans, and tomatoes to her friends and neighbors. She loved lake life, vacationing at Bad Medicine Lake, and also boating, paddleboarding, and fishing at area lakes. She inherited her love for the Minnesota Twins from her mother, met monthly for a leisurely lunch with the Brandon retired teachers, and was always active in the neighborhood playing cards, visiting, and of course, delivering vegetables.
Sue was devoted to her family and looked forward to the annual Lefse camp with the Thompson, Kragnes, and Larson cousins. Sue was a champion card and game player; family favorites were Canasta, Liverpool Rummy, and Mexican Dominos, and she always had a book nearby.
On February 5th, Sue suffered a massive stroke while doing what she most loved, teaching young people at school. On Thursday, February 6, 2020, Sue passed away at St. Cloud Hospital surrounded by family and friends. Sue was a giver in life and continued to do so by choosing to be an organ donor through LifeSource Donor program. Because of her generosity, many peoples' prayers have been answered with the gift of life. At this difficult time, the family was grateful for the care and kindness shown by the Woodland Elementary staff, Alomere ER staff, Dr. Gesell, and the St. Cloud Hospital staff. Sue is now in heaven, reunited with her beloved son, Matthew, which brings great comfort to all who love her.
Sue is survived by her husband Mike, son Andy, brother, Dennis (Diane) Kragnes, sisters: Sharon Jack, and Carol (Duane) Ziegler, sister-in-laws Judy Jay, Mary (Scott) Sugden, brother-in-law Larry Kjelland, and many relatives and friends. Preceding her in death are son Matt, her parents Henry and Evelyn, and brothers-in-law, Carl Jack, and Mike Jay.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 11 a.m. at First Lutheran Church, Alexandria. Visitation will be on Friday, February 14, 2020 from 4-8 p.m. at the Anderson Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Donations would be welcomed to the Matthew Kjelland Memorial Foundation or donors choice.