Our beloved Thelma, age 86 of Odenville, left the earth on June 15, 2012 after living a very full and interesting life surrounded by her loving family. Thelma was the youngest daughter of Norwegian immigrants, Anton & Anna (Wick) Nordengen and was born on the family farm, August 12, 1925 in Pine Creek, Minnesota. She grew up there with her four brothers and one sister about 1 mile from the Canadian border, who all preceded her in death. They were Olaf Theodore Nordengen, Rudolph Nordengen (Edna), Anton Arnold Nordengen, Theodore Nordengen and Mabel Idalla Nordengen Boylan (Hal). She endured many hardships as a child and young adult, but preserved to become a strong and happy woman. After graduating from high school. Thelma went to live with her sister and her aunt (both named Mabel) in Seattle, Washington. While there she worked as a sandwich girl in a Boeing aircraft factory during WWII. There she met her first husband, Ray Jack Armstrong, at a USO dance and fell in love. Later, Thelma moved to Leeds, Alabama and had 3 children: Jack Armstrong (Patti) of Pell City, Jeff Armstrong (Kay) of Odenville & Theresa (Armstrong Reese) Harris (Ron) of Ashville, all of whom survive her. She thought of Helen Armstrong Stone (late Buddy) and Lois Armstrong Coleman (late Barney) as sisters and was also very close to Charlie Armstrong (Barbara) and Ray Armstrong (Shirley), all three are her husband’s siblings. She was a caring and wonderful grandmother to 8 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews around the US. After her children had left high school, Thelma worked at the Social Security Administration in Birmingham for 25 years, rising from a clerk and ending her career as a Benefits Analyst. A proud Norwegian, Thelma would often pepper her speech with simple Norwegian phrases and words. She delighted in teaching her grandchildren about being Norwegian. When Thelma was younger, she had wanted to become a fashion designer. Instead, she became a self-taught, amateur artist – she loved to paint landscapes, as well as sew and make clothes for friends and family. Thelma’s other love was traveling – she made frequent trips to California to visit her sister and her family. She and her sister Mabel would go off on a 2-week odyssey every summer. She’d traveled as far a field as Hawaii, Alaska, New York, and Chicago and was always ready for a new adventure. After the death of her first husband, Thelma drove herself and her children cross-country multiple times to visit family in California and has seen most of America. In later life, Thelma married Gilmore Flaten and moved backed to the small town of Pine Creek, MN where she was born and raised. She was the secretary of the Ladies Aid Society sponsored by the Pine Creek Lutheran Church (her grandfather, Thor Wick, helped build the church) and was involved with many other community activities. Thelma and Gil split their time between Alabama and Minnesota. She was the stepmother to Gil’s three daughters, Sheila Winstead (Bob) and Tallie Habstritt (Scott) who both live in Roseau, MN and Jean Borgerding (late Butch) of Minneapolis, MN. Thelma was considered a 2nd grandmother to their 6 children and will be sorely missed. Gil preceded Thelma in death. The family wishes to thank all of her long-time friends, family and caregivers at Mt. Royal Towers for all the love they showed her during her final years. Viewing will be held at Kilgroe Funeral Home (1750 Ashville Rd, Leeds) on Monday evening, June 18th from 6-8pm with a family viewing at 5pm. Services will be held at Kilgroe at 11am on Tuesday morning, June 19th. Gravesite located at Cedar Grove Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers the family suggest a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org). Condolences may be made online at www.kilgroefuneralhome.com Kilgroe Funeral Home, Leeds directed the services.
Published on  June 21, 2012