Arnold Engebretson Story

He endured the Great Depression, survived WWII and outlived a young daughter, son and grandson—all of whom died tragically of cancer—before he developed cancer himself. It’s unimaginable how one man could endure so much sadness in life. But perhaps Arnold Engebretson, a 90-year-old family man of Waconia, could because he also had much to celebrate in life.
Arnold Engebretson Story

Arnold Engebretson grew up in a large Norwegian family full of love and lutefisk. His successful career in the telephone business and service in the United States Army brought him to interesting corners of the country and around the world. Arnold’s marriage to wife Eleanor lasted 62 loving years. As a father, he gave much support and was highly involved in raising one son and two daughters who brought him so much joy.

Arnold’s retirement years were wonderful yet bittersweet. He and Eleanor settled in a home on a pristine lake in Wisconsin, where they would fish and golf often. Then—like his daughter, son and grandson—Arnold learned that he would face his own battle with cancer.

He confronted prostate cancer head-on and triumphed for many years. While the disease was in remission, Arnold continued to enjoy retirement and, eventually, he and Eleanor moved to Waconia to make new memories with their daughter and grandchildren.

Unfortunately, though, cancer struck back with a vengeance.

Arnold said that it wasn’t death he was afraid of—it was the dying. That’s why he and his family were so grateful for Ridgeview Hospice Care services. The compassionate nurses and meaningful services helped make dying more comfortable for this home-loving man.

Arnold appreciated the massages, the help with daily hygiene, and the relief hospice brought his wife and daughter. He drew strength and peace of mind from a nurse he admired named Kimber. She offered a simple, no-nonsense outlook on his journey to the end. She gave him a gift—a cross made of barn wood and barbed wire—so symbolic of her advice. And he cherished them both.

Arnold died peacefully at home beside Eleanor and their daughter, Kris. His wife says hospice care made such a difference. She says he didn’t ask for much, but what he received up to the end was a gift.

Eleanor will visit Arnold’s grave this Memorial Day. She may reflect on a cherished letter their son wrote before he died while in hospice care. It said that he, his sister and Arnold & Eleanor's grandson are now together in heaven. He and his sister are the stars and the grandson is the brightest sun.

Perhaps Arnold is now the moon—a bright reflection of how much he meant to so many.

This Memorial Day, celebrate the lives of loved ones you’ve lost—and perhaps consider donating a gift to Ridgeview Hospice. This invaluable program can help loved ones not only die peacefully, but really live until they die. Whether it’s cancer or kidney disease that cuts life too short, hospice care can enable patients to live life to the end with dignity, grace and support.

Arnie Engebretson was a spiritual man who was able to express eloquently how a debilitating disease and loss of sight affected the quality of his life. He, his wife and daughter had experienced major losses, but yet it was evident that they loved each other well. Eleanor and Kris were able to give Arnie the final gift of being cared for and dying in the security of his own home. Your gift of support today will positively impact the hospice program—and families like Arnold’s—for years to come.