I entered this earth in Duluth, MN on March 13, 1946, and my Mom and Dad, Maynette and John Gustafson, were ecstatic to receive a girl into their lives. My 13 year old brother, however, may not have been quite so thrilled!!
I spent my youth on a farm in Port Wing, WI, a Scandinavian community nestled on the shores of Lake Superior. Both sets of my grandparents immigrated from Sweden to this little, friendly town. We practiced many Swedish customs, and I adopted some of these with my family, with the exception of lutefisk dinners after they left the house on the first round!!!
The Lake Superior area was a wonderful place for a child to grow and develop. I loved the lake, and the gathering of family and friends for picnics shared on the shores. I also loved to fish, and my pets were the cows, calves, horses, cats and dogs that I had as a child. I was great friends with my Father and worked side by side with him on the farm until he died in 1958 when I was 12. My Mother was a wonderful influence on me, as she continued the support of her family with great dignity and courage after the death of my father. I lost my beautiful Mother in 2003.
My family was a musical one providing music for many different events in the Port Wing area. I played several instruments focusing on the piano and voice. Some of you will remember running from the squawks of my accordion!!!! Due to my musical interests, I attended the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire majoring in elementary education and minoring in music. I continued work towards my master’s degree at the Universities of Oshkosh and Madison, although I did not complete the program, as a cowboy rode through Wisconsin and asked me to marry him. I taught school in Neenah and Janesville, WI, and I loved my students with all my heart and soul.
In 1977, I married Robert McClelland of Belgrade, MT. Bob and I farmed, and we were also custom cutters. It was not unusual to see my skin green after a day of baling or brown from the dust after plowing, or perhaps covered in grease for completing repairs! After we ended our farming career, I became involved in the Alzheimer’s field for 5 years, and then became employed by the Business Office of Bozeman Deaconess Hospital in 2000 where I met many, many patients whom I loved and who showed such courage with grave illnesses. All were such an inspiration to me, and I thank those past and present for this gift.
The two greatest titles I ever had were “Mommy” and “Gramma!” My children and grandchildren were the delights of my life. If I had to live my life over, I would have spent more time with my children and grandchildren as they were growing up. But I hope they will have some good memories of times spent with me.
I am survived by my husband, Robert, who tolerated me for 43 years, the two best children anyone could ever have asked for, Alison, John (Natalija), four fabulous grandchildren, Rebecca and Connor McClelland, Liam and Maksim McClelland, all bringing me so much love and a multitude of laughs; three stepdaughters, Patsy, Cheryl, and Sally; two step grandchildren, Jennifer and Jeffrey; one step great grandchild, Draken, a niece, Sherilyn McKay and her son, William, and my nephew’s son, Dustin and many wonderful cousins.
So, I was born...I blinked...and it was over. But I did have a chance to have the love of the most wonderful friends and family. Every one of you touched my life in many marvelous ways.
I hope I gave all of you as much love as you gave me. To my former students, friends, family and fellow classmates who kept in touch via social media, I thank you also for always giving me such a boost!
So, in the end, remember...do your best, paddle your own canoe and make something amazing of your life. And never stop living, loving, or my favorite: laughing!
I don’t want you to be sad. Go out and enjoy the day...and each other. I will see you on the other side of the starlight.
Love you forever, Sherie
Love and kindness, joy and music. These feelings and sounds resonate in our hearts when we think of our Mom. - Alison and John
“Believe in the fairies who make dreams come true.
Believe in the wonder, the stars, and the moon.
Believe in the magic from fairies above.
They dance on the flowers and sing songs of love.
And if you just believe and always stay true,
the fairies will be there to watch over you.”