Evelyn Nelson Kolden Patton, 103, passed away on February 20, 2023.
A funeral service will be held at 1:00 PM, Saturday, March 4 at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck.
Evelyn Nelson was born in Minot, ND to Knut and Magda (Maggie) Nelson. She had one sister, Francis, and grew up working the family farm. As the daughter of Swedish/Norwegian immigrants, Evelyn and her family learned how to make a life on the little they had.
She went to high school at the age of 12 in Ryder, ND living in an attic room, cooking on a hot plate and traveled home on weekends. Following high school she went to business school in Minneapolis. She then returned to Roseglen to teach school.
It wasn’t long after she began teaching that she was married Clayton Dunbar. They had a daughter baby Sandra. Sadly, the marriage did not last.
At the end of the great depression and the beginning of WWII, Evelyn found herself a newly divorced single mother, trying to make a life and support her young child. It was not easy.
At the end of the war, the soldiers returned home and among them was a familiar face, Christian Kolden. Chris was the son of Norwegian Immigrants and one of six brothers. Evelyn had previously caught his eye and heart and the two were married in 1945. Chris adopted Sandra and the new little family moved to Roseglen, ND and opened the General Store/Post Office/Gas Station. In 1947, baby Roger Kolden was born. It was a full and happy life, managing the store, living close to Chris’s 6 brothers and their families, and watching the children grow-up, go to college, and get married. She was in love, with a beautiful family, and had enough to support them and live a comfortable life.
Upon Chris’s retirement from the post office and the sale of the store they moved to Minot. Evelyn began working in a flower shop and then a jewelry store. In 1971, Evelyn’s first of 13 grandchildren was born to Roger and his wife, Lee while Roger was finishing up his college degree at NDSU. In 1978 Chris was diagnosed with cancer and died the next year. Heartbroken Evelyn returned to Minot by herself, feeling quite alone. Sandra was now living in San Francisco with her husband Bill and his children, Billy and Cindy, and Roger and Lee were living with their family in Alaska.
In 1982, Evelyn connected with Chris’s old army buddy, Ray Patton, who lived in Bismarck. Both recently widowed, Ray and Evelyn shared so much of the same history, growing up in the mid-west during the great depression, surviving the war and the death of spouses. They were married in 1984 and overnight Evelyn’s family grew exponentially! Ray and his wife had 5 children, most of whom lived in Bismarck. They are: Michael (Roberta) Patton, Bismarck, Harlan (Chantal) Patton, Travelers Rest, SC, Mary Jane (Harvey) Kadrmas, Bismarck, Colleen (David) Pearce, Bismarck, and Kathy (Dale) Fleck, Bismarck.
They enjoyed traveling the country in their RV, spoiling their grand children, and hosting wild Patton Family Reunions. In 1996, the first of her 20-and-counting great-grand children were born. Ray died in 2000 with his family by his side.
After Ray passed, Evelyn down-sized, selling her home and moving into a condo. She kept up with friends and family and was often hosting out of town visitors. After a series of falls, Evelyn moved into the Baptist Home in 2018 at the age of 98. While the living situation was not her first choice as she enjoyed her independence and shopping, Evelyn made the most of life at the Baptist Home, learning to paint and becoming quite the bingo shark. Evelyn celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by many friend and family. When interviewed for the local news station, Evelyn said that her secret to longevity was “to be happy, and to make others happy, and take care of yourself and your health.” Evelyn died at the age of 103.
Evelyn loved to tease, play two handed whist, enjoyed the Patton family weekly visits with meals, and her RV trips with Ray around the US. She loved to play games and cheat with the wink of an eye, and anything that proved to be an excuse for a party.
She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Roger and Lee Kolden, Oak Harbor, WA; stepchildren and their spouses, Michael (Roberta) Patton, Bismarck, Harlan (Chantal) Patton, Travelers Rest, SC, Mary Jane (Harvey) Kadramas, Bismarck, Colleen (David) Pearce, Bismarck, and Kathy (Dale) Fleck, Bismarck; 14 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
Evelyn was preceded in death by her parents; her three husbands; sister, Frances L. Kerzman; daughter, Sandra Kennaugh; son-in-law, Bill Kennaugh; and great-grandson, Bailey Carlberg.
At 103, most of Evelyn’s friends and many of her family members had already died. She was looking forward to a party in heaven with her husbands, her daughter, her parents and sister, her friends, and her oldest grandson.
Evelyn's funeral service will be held at 1:00 PM, Saturday, March 4 at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck.
Memorials for Evelyn may be sent to Trinity Lutheran Church, 502 N 4th St, Bismarck.