BRISTOL- Verna Birkeland, 89 of Bristol died on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at Sun Dial Manor in Bristol. Her funeral will be at 2:00 P.M. Monday, February 23, 2009 at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Bristol, Rev. Janet Miller officiating. Burial will be in the Homer Cemetery, Pierpont. Visitation will be at Fiksdal Funeral Service (fiksdalfuneral.com) on Sunday 4-7 P.M. and then prior to services on Monday. Verna Dorothy Thompson was born on May 4, 1919 to Edward and Alma (Petrich) Thompson on the family farm near Lily, South Dakota. She was baptized and confirmed at the Lily Lutheran Church. She graduated as Valedictorian of her class of 1936 at Bristol High School and then attended Northern State College in Aberdeen receiving a Master's Degree in 1970. She taught elementary classes at rural schools and in Butler for seven years, then Kindergarten at Pierpont and Bristol for eighteen years. On February 19, 1949 she married Arthur Birkeland at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Pierpont, South Dakota. They lived on a farm near Pierpont for twenty three years. In 1973 they moved to Bristol and lived in her parent’s home. The couple traveled in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Europe. They also spent seventeen winters in Arizona and California. Arthur passed away in August 1994. She entered Sun Dial Manor in 2000. Verna was an active member of Ladies Aide in the Pierpont Church and later was a member of Bethesda Lutheran Church in Bristol where she taught Sunday School. She was an Interdenominational Bible Study Leader for over twenty four years and a Study Club member for over fifty years. Verna served as the President of Day County Cancer Unit for 27 years and in 1983 was named Honorary Member of the State Cancer Society. She also served on Day County Museum Board, Farm Bureau Secretary, Day County Republican Chairman and was a member of the Metropolitan Dinner Club in Aberdeen and Bristol. Verna enjoyed entertaining family and friends at her home and Pickerel Lake cabin. After entering Sun Dial Manor, she stayed in contact with many people by her letter writing and phone calls. She remained an active alumnus of Northern State (College) University. Verna passed away on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at Bristol, South Dakota at the age of 89 years, 9 months and 15 days. Survivors include four nephews, Richard Phillips of Pierre, SD, Reuben (Joan) Phillips of Baltic, SD, David (Margaret) Phillips of Bismarck, ND and Dr. Donald Arwood of Sioux Falls, SD; three nieces, Patricia (Greg) Micko of Brookings, SD, Valerie (Matthew) Swain of St. Louis, MO and Karen (Mark) Peterson of Alpena, SD; and a sister-in-law, Shirley Thompson of St. Louis, MO. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, two brothers, two sisters and two nephews.
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