Thief River Falls – Opal Dargus, affectionately called “Opal Opal” and “Grandma” by those who knew her, passed away on March 9, 2022 at the age of 99 years, 7 months and 9 days. She was determined to live to be 100 years old, so we are gathered here today to grant that wish and to celebrate her life on what that 100th birthday would have been.
Opal Clarice Paulson was born on July 1, 1922, the second of seven children to Ben and Gena (Mickelson) Paulson. She grew up on a farm outside of Radium and attended school through eighth grade in Radium. In order to be able to go to high school at the time, she found a home with the Lundgren family in the “Castle” on the Snake River in Warren, where she did the housework and looked after their three girls for board and lodging.
Her love of music led her to follow a local family dance band from the old days called ‘Sam’s Serenaders’ and caught the attention of an accordion player named Herman Dargus. They married November 28, 1939 and Opal went back to the farm. In addition to helping out on the farm, raising two children and a huge garden, she also worked at Hartz Grocery and Ben Franklin in Warren and was active in and became the secretary of the Local Farmers Union Chapter. She was also a “den mom” for Girl Scout Brownie troops, never missing a Sunday at church and always having baked goods and coffee on hand for anyone passing by.
When the kids left home, they sold the farm and moved to Thief River Falls, where Grandpa opened a bike, lawnmower, and motorcycle shop and repair shop. In addition to helping in the shop, she took in children and founded a children’s home for many years.
They say, “If you have something to do, give it to the busiest person you know.” That was certainly true, because in addition to helping out at the bike shop and looking after the children, she found time to sing in Trinity Choir, join Trinity Troops, serving as a poll judge, working with Girl Scouts, designing beautiful weddings, birthdays, graduation cakes and handmade flowers for weddings, going to Stillwater to take care of her aging parents, and snooping at flea markets. She also found time to attend weddings, graduations, and baby showers for adult grandchildren and day children. All this while tending a vegetable and flower garden and preserving everything she has grown. She never missed camping at the Rollag Steam Drescher Show, even if grandpa didn’t come along, and always took a few children with her. In fact, she was rarely seen without children in tow, like a mother hen and chicks.
When she closed her daycare, she went to work at Walmart. When you hear her say it, it seems like she runs “the shop,” and perhaps there’s some truth in that, as evidenced by the certificates of achievement and awards hanging on her dining room wall.
Christmas was always her favorite holiday and she always served up a feast and had a few tricks up her sleeve for opening presents after the dishes were done. Despite being repeatedly hospitalized due to her deteriorating health, she insisted on spending one last Christmas at her home. When we all offered to do the cooking, there was no way she would let us! She was a fire breather and an inspiration to all of us.
She is missing her son Ronnie (Corinne); her daughter Brittani (Adam) Liebeberg; Evelyn and Olivia and Corinne’s children Bradley (Tonya), Jackie (Russell) and Jenny (Wesley). Also missing is her daughter Marilyn (Ward) Brink; Marilyn’s children, Jeff (Connie) Nelson, Jenny, Sean, Tiffany and Scott; Greg Nelson, Jessica (Mike), Rex and Kyri, Karla Nelson Sparby’s children, Mandy (Adam) Gast, Maci and Kendall; Cassie Sparby; Bryan (Jodi) Nelson; Layne (Anna), Tice and Jodi’s son ZakSteve Nelson and son Trevor. Ward’s children, Bruce (Sandy) Brink; Sandy’s children, Alyssa (Spenser), Shawna and Brett (Lauren); Debbie (Kerry) and Tammy (Tony). Also sister, Maxine (Orland) Thoresen, Christie and Renee. Many great-grandchildren, many great-great-grandchildren, relatives and friends. Special friends and messengers, Diane Baune and Emily Heieren; and neighbor Armando who looked after her and brought her food.
Her husband Herman awaits her in heaven; grandson, Sean Dargus; granddaughter, Karla Sparby; their parents; siblings, Gordon, Audrey, Bentley, Junice and Frank; Herman’s siblings Eda, Freda, Sam, Fred, Lawrence and Helen; step-great-grandson Xavier; and step-great-granddaughter Kelly; and many relatives and friends.
A very special and heartfelt thank you to grandson #1 Jeff and his son Scottie for dropping whatever they were doing and rushing to Grandma’s side when she called and for shoveling her driveway and sidewalks and mowed her lawn.
Thank you to Johnson Funeral Service for your compassionate care and to Grandma’s beloved Trinity Choir for enclosing special music on her journey to her heavenly home.
Although Grandma loved flowers, please consider memorials for the Trinity Lutheran Choir or the Trinity Church Kitchen Fund.
The funeral service will be held at 10:30 am on Friday morning, July 1, 2022 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Thief River Falls, followed by lunch. Visit the church one hour before the service. Grandma is buried next to her husband Herman in Greenwood Cemetery, Warren. May their reunion be blessed.
Condolences can be sent at www.johnsonfuneralservice.com.