In the year of our Lord, one-thousand, nine-hundred, fifty and five, on the morning of Friday, August 19th, Kathryn Wallem was delivered of a daughter, Lois Kay, who joined her siblings, Elwood and Keith, in the family of Kathryn and Orville Wallem. They brought this daughter to their farmhouse, four miles east of Dawson, Minnesota. Lois’ childhood centered around her mother’s kitchen where she watched and helped her mom with baking. She would spend several minutes perfectly forming each cookie. She demonstrated from her earliest days her excellent attention to detail, to precision, to accuracy and all in total honesty.
She loved first grade in the rural country school. Finishing her schoolwork, she would listen attentively as her teacher worked with the students in the grades above her. Her second year of grade school caused many tears and much anxiety and frustration as she attended school in town—she mourned the loss of the sense of family she had in country school. As she adjusted to school in town, she developed rich and deep friendships with her classmates which she nurtured and kept throughout her life. She capped her grade-school education with confirmation at Grace Lutheran Church and as the Lac Qui Parle County Spelling-Bee Champion. Her academic achievements were the source of pride for her family—she never received any grade less than an “A” in each course of study during her twelve years in the Dawson School and graduating in her class of one-hundred as its salutatorian.
As her beauty grew from bud to bloom, so did her scholastic achievements come to full flower first at Concordia College and at ISU, which graduated her in 1977. However, the dark stain of a “B” in bowling at Concordia transferred to ISU and limited her B.S. degree’s honor to “with distinction.“
Tom Taggart dated and wooed her at Concordia for two years and engaged with her to marriage in 1975. ”The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” They moved into a one-room renovated chicken coop rented them, furnished (including utilities) at $85.00 per month —a tub, no shower, one closet, an Isinglass furnace, an hide-a-bed and an oven which seemed to broil, only. She stayed in ISU’s towers during the week and was home as an house-wife on the weekends. Yet, God arranged for joy to rest gently upon them as they started their life together, two are become one.
Lois worked for an insurance company for four years after graduating from the University. During her lay-off, she applied each week to businesses for employment, arriving at the office of Van Wuerden, Hulse And Hefner, leaving her resume at the front desk. As she turned to leave, Barb Keller said, “Wait a minute. We might need you.” They interviewed her on the spot and hired her. “She girdeth her loins with strength, and stengtheneth her arms. She preceiveth that her merchandise is good: She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Both the former and the latter firms (Hefner, Burgkamp And McClure) were wonderful places to work—considerate, more-than-fair and greatly generous and kind. Many a snowy day resulted in Randy or Matt driving her home. She worked at these firms spanning thirty-seven years. There was never a cross word between her and any of those employed there. Lois became exceedingly adept as a para-legal, managing the office’s orders, being the firm’s bookkeeper, responding to phone calls and preparing multitudinous legal forms, filings and functions. She retired in December of 2019, the firm giving her not one but two commemorative parties.
Lois was a wondrous fine cook. She doted on being in her “kitch-kitch.” “She is like the merchants ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” God granted her the rare ability to eat a dish foreign to us both and then go to her kitchen and replicate it. Yet it was her joy to have you at her table. Whether you sat in the front porch for morning coffee and sour-cream coffee cake, whether you gathered in the lanai for a dish of her home-made mint ice cream, whether you sat around the fire-side table playing a game and eating her scrumptious crab quiche hors d ‘oeuvres, whether twelve of us feasted in our party barn for a banquet of calico beans, bug salad, chili, chips and chocolate-mint brownies, whether you pulled up a chair at the kitchen table for apple pie with her cinnamon ice cream and coffee, whether you sat in your best bib-and-tucker for an eight-course meal at our dining table, you knew that your taste buds were going to be privileged to wondrous fare. How balanced was her menu, how beautifully prepared was each dish, how graciously presented was the fare, how calm and sweet was her conversation: Each of you ceased being a guest and were become part of her family. But, as good an hostess as she most assuredly was, she took such a direct and personal interest in those whom she hosted. “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Gracious, generous, humble hospitality was a gift of the Spirit Christ gave her in joyous abundance. And, we were the richer for it. But it was not what she prepared for you just in our home. When it was her turn to present treats for fellowship time after church services, she spent all Saturday making twelve-to-fourteen dozen from-scratch cookies and tray bakes. To break bread with her was a true joy.
She became very active in the Crossroad Church, serving on the diaconate for several years. During this time, she organized many church dinners and events. While the Lutheran church had baptized her as an infant, she stepped into the baptismal font in October of 2019 to be fully and completely immersed as a baptized child of God and an heir of Christ, affirming her belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
While her diagnosed condition, multiple system atrophy, gradually weakened her, she rejoiced in Jesus, keeping her faith and the assurance that He had prepared for her a place in His Father’s mansion and that she would step across into heaven’s delights with her new body free of pain and joyously praising her Savior. “Her husband praiseth her. A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” While God removed from Adam a rib in order to form Eve, My Lady Lois’ death on Friday, before midnight, May, 26th, current, removed from we-two-being one my entire rib cage, and from our house, she departed into eternity taking with her, her smiles, her laughter and her joy, leaving the sobbing shadows of sorrow in every room her presence once graced. The span of her life was sixty-seven years, two-hundred four-score days. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”