Shirley Marie Opsal (Johnson) - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

Shirley Marie Opsal (Johnson)

December 20, 1925 - October 7, 2022

Shirley lived her 96 years by Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoicing in God, being gentle to all, bringing her anxiousness to God in prayer and trusting in God's peace that will guide our hearts and minds in Jesus. She used her gifts of hospitality, encouragement, prayer, faith and missions to impact those around her and into the world.

Born in Austin, MN, Dec. 20, 1925 and died Oct. 7, 2022 from natural causes at home with family.

Graduated from Austin H.S. (1944), attended St. Olaf College/Fairview Nursing Program for 2 years, and fell in love and married Bernt Opsal in 1946. Throughout their 58 years of marriage, she gave complete support to her husband's ministries as pastor at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Brooklyn NY (1946-1952), US Navy Chaplain during the Korean conflict and a reservist and President of the Lutheran Bible Institute/Golden Valley Lutheran College, Mpls. (1954-1985).

Being a loving wife and homemaker, they raised 4 children in a Christian home and were members of Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield. She remained a faithful member for 68 years serving in leadership positions, as a Sunday School Teacher, member of Global Missions, active in Women's Circle, and contributed to many other activities and events of of the Church. She also volunteered at Fairview Hospital.

She enjoyed discovering her Norwegian heritage, documenting family genealogy, keeping traditions and guiding others to finding their roots. Remembering birthday and holiday celebrations of family and friends were always a priority. Spending time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren by making crafts, reading, coloring, doing puzzles, playing games and attending their events brought her delight.

Preceded in death by husband, The Rev. Dr. Bernt C. Opsal, parents Jennie and Eddie Johnson, brother Nathan and sister-in-law Elaine Johnson, sister Lois Williams, infant brother Melford, brother and sister-in-law, The Rev. Ingvald and Klara Opsal, nephews Paul and James Opsal, great-nephew Max Bents, great-great- niece Sammi Kohn.

Survived by children: Janet Frederickson (Paul), Peter Opsal (Sandra), Ruth Miller, Karen Waters (Odell); grandchildren: Marie Frederickson, Paul Frederickson, Jr. (Kayo), Kelly Watanabe (Scotty), Odell Waters, Jr. (Karie), Elvia Steiner (Dave), Susan Waters, Sam Waters (Alyssa Bailey); great-grandchildren: Gideon, Jeremiah, Hanna, Owen, Brayden, Landon, Delano, Cameron, Ciara, Landon, Alonzo, Isabel; great-great-grandchildren: Aiden and Hayden; brother-in-law, L.H. Williams, Jr., many nieces, nephews, cousins, Norwegian relatives and lifelong childhood friend, Margaret Overlie.

The service may be viewed at Lutheran Church

Memorials to Woodlake Lutheran Church, Richfield, MN.


  1. Karen Roed-Rick says:

    Shirley was a lovely, kind, and gracious lady. Blessings to each of you for your ongoing, loving care of her during her final years. Her family legacy is truly reflected in the concern you had for her and each other.
    My condolences for your loss.

  2. Graydon M Amundson says:

    Thinking about the good memories with the Opsals being our neighbors growing up. Shirley and my mother were good friends all those years I see they both died the same age. thinking about all of you at this time.

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