Cover photo for Verna Eleva (Sorum) Watts's Obituary
Verna Eleva (Sorum) Watts Profile Photo
1926 Verna 2021

Verna Eleva (Sorum) Watts

March 7, 1926 — July 25, 2021

Age: 95

March 7, 1926 – July 25, 2021

Verna was born to Ilot and Esther Sorum on March 7, 1926 at their farm home ten miles south of Lanesboro, MN. Ilot drove his team of horses and sleigh those 10 miles to Lanesboro to bring the doctor out, but Verna was born before they arrived. She was the oldest of three children, Orval (deceased) and Muriel Ann.

Verna was raised in a deeply religious Christian family. She was the relation’s first grandchild and everyone – grandparents, uncles, and aunts helped Ilot and Esther teach her prayers and hymns in Norwegian. The organ at her grandpa’s home was constantly played as hymns were sung by the family.

Her parents were 100% Norwegian and spoke their language at home. When Verna started country school, she had to learn English. In addition, for one month each summer, Verna attended parochial school (special religious training) from age eight until she was confirmed at age fourteen. During that month, she would stay at her grandpa’s farmhouse, riding his pony, “Peanut” two miles each day to the Norwegian school.

Verna read all of the New Testament (with her mother reading along with her) during two years of confirmation classes. Reverend Magellson confirmed her at Elstad Lutheran Church, a beautiful country church south of Lanesboro. She attended Sunday School and all the Luther League programs and conventions.

Verna learned to sew from her mother. She became an accomplished seamstress making many of her own clothes. This foundation and interest in fashion, led to Verna opening multiple fabric and bridal retail stores later in life.

Verna graduated from Lanesboro High School in 1944. That summer she attended Winona Business College in Winona, MN.  Her first job was working as a secretary at the Lanesboro High School.  Later she moved to Preston, MN, to work as a secretary for the Fillmore County Agricultural Extension Service.  While working there she met her future husband, Wendell Watts, a local dairy farmer.  They were married June 6, 1948 at Elstad Lutheran Church and began their life together on the Watts’ Family Farm. They were members of the Norwegian Lutheran Church “on the hill” in Preston where Verna also taught Sunday School. They lived on the farm with daughters Kristine and Karen until 1957 when they moved into town, where sons Garry and Wesley were born.

In 1963, the family moved to Waukon, IA, due to a new job opportunity for Wendell. Verna became active in St. John’s Lutheran Church, serving on various committees and was very involved in her children’s school activities. Her love of fashion combined with her desire to serve others, launched her business career. Verna studied to be a Bridal Consultant and opened up her first bridal shop in their home, later moving it to downtown Waukon. She planned many beautiful weddings for those in the community and the surrounding region including her childrens’ weddings.

In 1979, Verna, Wendell and Wesley made another move because of Wendell’s career, this time to Reedsburg, WI, where they spent the next 32 years. The family joined St. John Lutheran Church. Verna became very involved, including using her creativity, and sewing skills in making numerous banners that hung in the church for the various seasons of the church year.

Verna opened a bridal shop in downtown Reedsburg in 1982.  In the following years, a partner joined her in the business, and they opened a storefront bridal shop on Main Street, called “Brides N’ Belles” which became her flagship store.  Verna spent hours and hours in that shop creating special wedding days by helping young brides find their dream gown, and dresses for bridesmaids, and mothers of the bride and groom. After a long and successful career, she sold her shop to her partner’s daughter and retired in 1992.  Today “Brides N’ Belles” is a thriving business in Reedsburg continuing not only in the original location, but expanding into a second, larger, store-front building on Main Street.

In 2011, Verna and Wendell moved to Sartell, MN bringing them closer to their family. They joined Abounding Joy Lutheran Church, where they are currently members.

Very early in life, Verna was taught the importance of prayer for forgiveness, joy, peace and hope for eternal life – something she modeled for her family throughout her life. Verna was a strong witness for Jesus Christ in her family, her church and all the communities in which she lived.

Verna was devoted to her family, and enjoyed any chance to be with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her hobbies included creative sewing and needlework projects, and she enjoyed listening to music. She had the gift of hospitality and enjoyed hosting and visiting with   friends.

Survivors include her husband, Wendell, married 73 years, four children, Kristine (Dale) Hellickson of St. Cloud, MN, Karen (Tom) Gibson of East Bethel, MN, Garry (Debbie) Watts of Winona, MN, and Wesley (Ann) Watts of Owatonna, MN, eleven grandchildren and nineteen great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank the incredible, caring, staff of Country Manor in Sartell and at Woodcrest of Country Manor in St. Joseph. You are amazing people that have provided outstanding care for our parents. We are so grateful!

Finally, a special thank you to Pastor Tom and Pastor Bruce – exceptional men of God that have loved and cared for our parents. We appreciate you!

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, August 7th, at Abounding Joy Lutheran Church, 6000 County Rd 120, St. Cloud, MN 56303. Visitation 10 am; Service 11 am.

Memorials may be given, in honor of Verna Watts, to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in any of the following methods:

1 Billy Graham Parkway

Charlotte, North Carolina 28201

May God bless the memory of Verna Eleva (Sorum) Watts among us.

Schedule and Information

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, August 7th, at Abounding Joy Lutheran Church, 6000 County Rd 120, St. Cloud, MN 56303. Visitation 10 am; Service 11 am.

Memorials

Memorials may be given, in honor of Verna Watts, to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in any of the following methods:

1 Billy Graham Parkway

Charlotte, North Carolina 28201

Visitation Details

A Visitation will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, August 7th, at Abounding Joy Lutheran Church, 6000 County Rd 120, St. Cloud, MN 56303.

Service Details

A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, August 7th, at Abounding Joy Lutheran Church, 6000 County Rd 120, St. Cloud, MN 56303.

Visitation and Service Location

Abounding Joy Lutheran Church

6000 County Rd 120

St. Cloud, MN 56303.

Visitation and Service Map

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