And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43
On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Ellen Marion (Ojanen) (Rantala) Linen was received into the presence of her savior Jesus, in time to celebrate Resurrection Sunday with countless loved ones gone before her.
Ellen, 87, was gravely injured in a fall at her house in Wadena on Good Friday. The next day she answered the call to come home, entering eternal paradise, as promised to believers in Christ.
Ellen lived a dedicated life preparing for that glorious homecoming, from the time of her birth in her Finnish immigrant parents’ Marquette, Michigan, sauna on January 31, 1933, and her baptism six weeks later.
Even before her 1951 graduation from Marquette Graveraet High School, Ellen was using her musical talents in the church choir and as a pianist and organist, skills that she used in service to the church for most of the rest of her life.
Following graduation from Northern Michigan College in 1953, she worked four years as a secretary for the Lake States Forest Experiment Station.
Then in 1956, Ellen married Clarence Arnold Rantala who went on to become a pastor for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The couple served congregations in Massachusetts, Ontario, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana before retiring to Wadena.
As a pastor’s wife, Ellen filled a number of roles through the years, from church organist to secretary, from choir director to Sunday school teacher. Additionally, for 10 years, she served as private secretary to the Ohio District President, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Yet, Ellen was a loving and dedicated mother before all else, raising four children, all of whom are grieving her departure but anticipating their future reunions with her in heaven.
Among those already reunited in heaven this Easter Sunday are Ellen and her two husbands—both Lutheran ministers. Following Pastor Clarence’s death in early 1993, Ellen married another retired Lutheran pastor, Elmer Linen. The Linen and Rantala families had been friends for decades before Ellen and Elmer both lost their first spouses after long illnesses.
As a newlywed again, Ellen cherished 20 years with Elmer before he passed away in 2015. The two had the opportunity in retirement to travel together and to spend precious time with family members around the country, while continuing to serve the church in vacancy roles in Minnesota as needed.
Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, Victor and Hilda (Oja) Ojanen, husband Clarence Rantala, husband Elmer Linen; brothers Kaino and Paul Ojanen and their wives Sis and Nona; sisters Alli Harwood, Eine Gordon and Effie (McEachern) DeKeyser and their husbands Bob, John, and Doug, as well as many in-laws in the Rantala and Linen families.
She is survived by her children Victor (Lisa) Rantala; Kay Schroeder; John Rantala (Darleen Vogel); and Amy (Edward) Goldstein; as well as stepchildren Mark (Nikki) Linen and Deborah (Jack) Foster; and brother-in-law Don DeKeyser.
Ellen further leaves behind 14 beloved grandchildren (and step-grandchildren), as well as 7 great grandchildren (and step-grandchildren).
A memorial service will be announced at a future date when social gatherings are deemed safe.
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