Marlene Winifred Bjerstedt Hendrickson O’Connell Wells passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on December 24, 2017. She was born in River Falls on May 10, 1934 to Warren and Winifred Bjerstedt. She is preceded in death by her mother, Winifred; her father, Warren; husband, Reuben Hendrickson, and husband, Michael O’Connell.
Marlene is survived by her husband, Dr. Richard L. Wells of River Falls, and brothers, Bob (Betty) and Richard (Norma) Bjerstedt. Her children Bill (Michelle) Hendrickson of Wright, MN; Mary (Mark) Johnson of River Falls; Kelly (Jon) Gutierrez of Stillwater; Polly (Ron) Nesset of Maple Grove, MN; and Patrick (Angela) O’Connell of Duluth, MN; her step-children Karen Wells Verlander of Rice Lake, WI, and Sarah (Atilla) Kocsis of Alexandria, VA. Her grandchildren Jesse Johnson and Maria Pfuehler, Matt and Annie Johnson, Ben and Brooke Hendrickson, Caddie and Fred Haese, Cody and Casey Hendrickson, Torie and Tyler Kobelnyk, Anne Gutierrez, Emily Hendrickson, Michael Gutierrez, Daniel O’Connell, Grace Gutierrez, Jack O’Connell, Kellen O’Connell, Vivian Kocsis, and Alexander Kocsis. And great-grandchildren Reese and Nellie Johnson, Charlie and Eddie Johnson Pfuehler, Hudson and Carson Haese, and Parker Hendrickson. And an army of nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.
Marlene’s passion and purpose in life were her relationships with her children and grandchildren, her friends and family, her community, her co-workers, and her neighbors. She made a beautiful home for her kids – Wee Bit O’Heaven – where everyone felt welcome, the door was open to all, and the kitchen table always had enough room. She was a compassionate woman who loved her nursing profession in caring for the River Falls community for over 30 years.
Marlene knew heartache and loss but never, ever let those disappointments define her. She used each of the struggles to become a stronger and more selfless woman. Her many friends were her life-line when times were rough; they carried her through life with laughter and support. She taught her girls to be strong and compassionate, and her boys to be respectful and loving. Her smile made a room light-up and she made each person feel welcome and loved. She was LOVE.
Marlene’s family is indebted to the many people who supported her last chapter: Dr. Jeffrey Larsen and Patty at RF Medical Clinic; Abbott Northwestern Hospital; Comforts of Home; Boutwells Landing (Maddy, Melba and Spencer), and St Croix Hospice. Our greatest thanks to the community of River Falls for supporting Marlene’s children during this journey.
Visitation will be held 3:00-6:00 pm Friday, December 29 at O’Connell-Benedict Family Funeral Home in River Falls, and one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Funeral services will be held 11:00 am Saturday, December 30 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in River Falls with Pastor Chris Myers officiating. Interment will take place at Greenwood Cemetery in River Falls. Marlene’s grandchildren will be serving as pallbearers. Memorials preferred to Rhino’s Foundation (rhinosfoundation.org) which supports families in Western Wisconsin touched by cancer and Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (kinniriver.org) which conserves and protects the beauty and health of the River and its watershed. Funeral services entrusted to the O’Connell-Benedict Family Funeral Home of River Falls. 715-425-5644