Edna Sjostrom, 94, secretary, storyteller, motorcyclist

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Edna Dedolph Sjostrom, 94, of Oak Park, died on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Bethesda Home and Retirement Center. She had suffered for the past several years from cardiac and respiratory conditions but she retained her sense of humor and her interest in her children and grandchildren to her last days.

"Grandma's ability to bring humor to any situation keeps us laughing," said her granddaughter, Emily Sjostrom. "Even in difficult times she brought a smile to our faces. And in her last few days, her wit never failed her. This is what keeps us smiling in the saddest of moments in her passing."

Born on Feb. 10, 1918 in Mayville, Wis., she was the fourth and youngest child of George and Martha Dedolph. Her father, a veterinarian, taught her to drive on rural roads at the age of 12, and she enjoyed accompanying him on calls to the area's many dairy farms. She attended secretarial school after high school and worked during the pre-World War II years in federal government jobs in the Milwaukee area.

When World War II broke out, she was hired as secretary to the post commander of Ft. McCoy, then called Camp McCoy, a U.S. Army training and deployment center near Sparta, Wis. There, Edna met and married Robert Sjostrom, a civil engineer and a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After the war, the Sjostroms made their home in the Morgan Park and Beverly areas of Chicago before moving to Oak Park. Here they were involved in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

"Grandma loves to tell stories. I have wonderful memories of her putting me to bed as a child and rubbing my back and telling me stories," said Sarah Sjostrom. "She was an incredibly dedicated and devoted grandma."

Throughout her life, she loved to welcome friends, especially her children's friends, to her home and to her dinner table. And her spirit of adventure enlivened her role as an otherwise typical wife and homemaker. In 1959, Edna and her husband moved themselves and their six children, age 16 to 2, to Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, for two years, to take advantage of a job opportunity.

From the late 1960s through the mid-1980s, she rode thousands of miles on the passenger seat of a BMW motorcycle driven by her husband. In 1975, they picked-up a new BMW in Germany and rode through Europe, and later, back home, as far west as Yellowstone National Park, and as far east as St. Johns, Newfoundland. They were founding members of the 300-member Chicago Region BMW Motorcycle Association in 1969, and the role of women in the club was a subject of some debate in those days.

"Edna Sjostrom's input was by example," said longtime club member Alice Hanes. "Bob and Edna made a presentation at a club meeting on their trip to Europe," she continued and "they made me feel that, by golly, there are couples here, doing this together and sharing with the club."

Edna Sjostrom is survived by her children, Joseph (Jane), Jerry (Nancy), Dan (Colleen), Martha Ott (David), and William (Laurie); her grandchildren, Sarah, Andy (Kate), Nick, Anne (Jeremy), Emily, Galen, Bridget, Gregory, Anja, and Alex; and two great-granddaughters, Beatrice and Maria Isabela. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bob, and her son, Robert. Family visitation will be held at 10 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 31, at Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., Oak Park.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2211 N. Oak Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60707, in memory of Mrs. Sjostrom's late son, Robert Sjostrom, who was a volunteer there.

Reader Comments

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Mary Ann Patterson from Belleville, IL. 62223  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 12:14 PM

Edna's wonderful love of life and especially her family was something I admirded about her. She was a dear and loyal friend. Our days in CFM are to be tresured. Much fun together with Edna and Bob and the family. Also, much help for me and the children when we needed them. She raised a very special wonderful family that she had every right to be proud of.

The Cramers from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2012 11:14 AM

We had the very good fortunate of getting to know Edna Sjostrom. She was just such a lovely, friendly lady and the beloved matriarch of a large, loving family. After learning much about Edna through her kids, It was fascinating to read about her love of motorcycling! Who knew?? Our sympathies to the entire Sjostrom family.

Kimberly from River Forest  

Posted: March 21st, 2012 9:57 PM

Dear Edna and Bob were our downstairs neighbors in my husband and my first apartment in Oak Park in the mid 80's. We were newlyweds and Edna and Bob were wonderful models of what a full, married life could be like. We still have not taken that cross country motorcycle trip, but the Sjostroms surely inspired us. Our condolences to the whole family.

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