Lillian Elizabeth Grondahl
- August 13, 2023
Lillian Elizabeth Grondahl
Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
Lillian—who was spirited, stylish, and loved Jesus—passed away on May 30, 2023, at one of her favorite places: the family lake home.
At age three, Lillian became an international traveler. Born March 26, 1932, in St. Paul, Minn., to Oscar and Lilli Carlson, Swedish immigrants who found the promise of a fresh start in America difficult amidst the Great Depression, she returned to Sweden with her parents and two older brothers in 1935.
Lillian grew up in Linkoping, Sweden, with six brothers: Lawrence, Oscar, Julius, Roland, Paul and Andrew. She told stories of helping her mom on wash and baking days, learning to sew, ice skating in clip-on skates, swimming and playing the mandolin in the church band.
Completing her formal schooling, Lillian pursued secretarial training and became a civilian secretary for the Swedish Army. She was active with friends, taught Sunday school and became an accomplished seamstress as a young adult. At age 20, the family had collectively saved sufficient funds to join their father who had emigrated to Canada. Upon arriving in Toronto, she attended night school to learn English and made new friends all while working full-time as a secretary.
In 1958, the family moved to Chicago. Lillian became an executive secretary in the Wrigley Building, another one of her favorite places. Lillian’s youngest brother Andrew and his college roommate, Clayton, orchestrated a blind date that brought their older siblings Lillian and Vince together. On May 27, 1961, Lillian and Vincent Grondahl of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were married and built a life together in Cedar Rapids where they raised their two daughters, Lisa Acker (Mark) and Carol Ferry.
Lillian poured her energy into raising her girls. A water enthusiast, she had the girls in swimming and diving lessons at early ages, spending summers at the pool. Notably, in 1964, Lillian won second prize in the Pillsbury Bake-Off with her original Swedish Toffee Creams cookie recipe.
When her daughters began middle school, Lillian went back to school and earned an associate’s degree in accounting from Kirkwood Community College. She began bookkeeping with St Luke’s Hospital. Lillian was an active member of the Christian Women’s Club and New Covenant Bible Church in Cedar Rapids.
Upon retirement, she and Vince relocated to Inver Grove Heights, Minn. Between frequent travel, women’s Bible study groups, and hobbies, Lillian found joy in helping her daughters with the care of her much-loved grandchildren, Andrew Acker, Lilli Ferry Ellis (Korey), Anastazia Acker and Eric Ferry. She is fondly remembered for baking projects like the Christmas gingerbread house, movie nights and attic adventures, which held treasures from the past.
Lillian’s love of family and unshakeable faith in God left an enduring impact on her family. We take comfort in the words of Jesus in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
A private Celebration of Life will be held at the lake home later this summer.