Rachel Dorothy Rustad, age 84, of Fargo, ND, formerly of Howard Lake, died Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Fargo.
A memorial gathering will take place Friday, April 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Wright Funeral Home in Hawley, with a prayer service beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Rachel was born Jan. 5, 1933, in Hawley, to Jennie and Casper Stensland.
She was a member of the Lysne Church, and graduated from Hawley High School in 1950.
After spending some time in Long Beach, CA, Rachel married Ken Rustad in Hawley in 1954, and moved to Hallock, where Ken was teaching high school. While in Hallock, Rachel worked in the legal office of Lyman Brink.
In 1955, they moved to Minneapolis, where Rachel got a start on her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, and where son Jim (1960) and daughter Jenny (1965) were born. There, she spent time with her children and neighbors on Byrd and Valders Avenue, sewing costumes for the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, and, later, taking in long summers at the cabin on Stark Lake, north of Aitkin.
Rachel then went back to school to pursue a career in geriatrics, getting a degree from Minnesota State University, and eventually serving as chief administrator for the historic Stevens Square long-term care facility, which had started in 1881 as the Home for Children and Aged Women. She was much loved as a leader and administrator by both residents and staff, pioneering many new directions in wellness philosophy and personnel management in long-term care operations.
After retirement, Rachel moved to Howard Lake, where she enjoyed painting, quilting, visits from her grandchildren, and hanging out with long-time soulmate Birdie Johnson. During her last year, she moved to Fargo, ND, where her favorite activity was quietly observing her great-grandson, Declan.
Rachel’s bold pragmatism, artistic sense of order, love of new ideas, and appreciation for individuality defined her interactions with the world and made it a better place for all who knew her.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brother Eldon; and sister Myrtle.
Rachel is survived by Ken; children Jim and Jenny; daughter-in-law Katie; grandchildren Amanda (Jason), David (Sara), Robert, and Alex; and great-grandsons Declan and Jared.