Elaine Ardys Degelau - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

March 13, 1926 - February 19, 2023

Elaine Ardys Degelau

Age 96, of Minneapolis. Elaine Ardys Degelau completed her mission of service in the name of Christ February 19, 2023. Elaine was born March 13, 1926, near the town of Tripoli Iowa, a fraternal twin with her brother John. The family of four moved to Windom, Minnesota; at the age of 8, her father John Henry Degelau died, plunging the family deeper into the dire poverty of the great depression. As the child of now single mother Ida, it was with the help of neighbors, the community of Windom Lutheran Church and hard work that Elaine was able to succeed in school and work into the post-war years.

After moving to Minneapolis in 1949, she worked at Lutheran Brotherhood and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Board of Pensions until her retirement in 1993 when she was officially recognized as a WCCO “Good Neighbor”. After joining Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis in 1951, she spent the next 72 years there as a servant leader adept at social networking, youth ministry and faith formation decades before anyone ever called it that. Elaine was well known for her leadership in the formation of the Twin Cities Single Lutheran Adults (1955-2010), the English Learning Center and her fellowship with the Liberian community whom she dearly loved. Elaine was able to both love everybody unconditionally and fearlessly speak truth to whatever power or principality happened to be in her presence. She continued volunteering in the church office each week until the pandemic sent her home at the age of 94. She shines now as a beautiful example of a light well lit by faith in Christ. Elaine is dearly missed by her family, her hundreds of friends, and the community of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.

Survived by twin brother, Rev. John Degelau (Jane Solberg); nieces and nephews, John (Rhonda) Degelau, Eric (Renee) Degelau, Stephen (Joleen) Degelau and Jan (Glenn) Chase; great-nieces and great-nephews, John, Jessica (Dan) Dobson, Heather (Sean Yunk), Brooke (Zachary) Peterson, Stephanie (David) Kalliman, Zachary Degelau, Alec Degelau, Grace Degelau, Ashley (Stephanie Rangel) Lakoduk and Lauren Lakoduk, Joseph Cantwell, Felicia Loney, Fallon Ratzlow; great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews, Nova, Bodhi, Ashton, Brynlee and Kinsley; and many loving relatives and friends. Preceded in death by parents, John and Ida Degelau; sister-in-law Marion Degelau, great-nephew, Samuel Degelau; and great-niece, Courtney Lakoduk.

Memorials preferred to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Foundation.


  1. Connie Jaarsma Marty says:

    Elaine was a very special lady. She was the roommate of my mother, Ethel Stalheim Jaarsma, for six years when they were in their early 20’s. They all joined Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church a few blocks from their Park Ave apartment, worked downtown and took the trolly car everywhere. During those years a door to door salesman sold them one piece of fine china per month until each woman had a full set of similar china and silverware. They used the china dishes each Sunday and started a tradition that my mother kept up for 54 years. Each time my mother came to Minneapolis to visit me, we stopped in to visit Elaine. She was a talker and a joy to be around. What a blessing to all of us.

  2. Violet Finkelson says:

    My maiden name was LinD Ann Burman. My family lived on the same block as the church and it felt like home to me. Elaine was like a second mother to me. She was in her fifties when I was in high school and yet I always felt like she paid attention to us and cared deeply about anything we felt troubled about. Most adults are too busy, but Elaine always made time to talk. What an amazing legacy. She will be missed.

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