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Published March 17, 2013, 12:00 AM

Cathryn M. Rykken

Cathryn Marie (Wambheim) Rykken, age 88, of Black River Falls passed away at home surrounded by her family on Thursday, March 14th. She was born in Hatton, ND, on October 20, 1924, to Harvey and Josie (Olstad) Wambheim and graduated from Hatton High School in 1942.

Cathy attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a second-generation Cobber, graduating in 1946 with a dual degree in English and Economics. She was a soprano soloist for the Concordia Choir under Paul J. Christiansen, and some of her fondest memories from that time were traveling the US and Canada on choir tour. It was during her rendition of “Stormy Weather” that she first caught the eye of a young returning war veteran, Thorwald “Unk” Rykken, and the two married in 1948. They enjoyed over 64 years of marriage.

Cathryn M. Rykken

Cathryn Marie (Wambheim) Rykken, age 88, of Black River Falls passed away at home surrounded by her family on Thursday, March 14th. She was born in Hatton, ND, on October 20, 1924, to Harvey and Josie (Olstad) Wambheim and graduated from Hatton High School in 1942.

Cathy attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a second-generation Cobber, graduating in 1946 with a dual degree in English and Economics. She was a soprano soloist for the Concordia Choir under Paul J. Christiansen, and some of her fondest memories from that time were traveling the US and Canada on choir tour. It was during her rendition of “Stormy Weather” that she first caught the eye of a young returning war veteran, Thorwald “Unk” Rykken, and the two married in 1948. They enjoyed over 64 years of marriage.

Cathy taught English at Detroit Lakes, MN, and Dahlen, ND, for 3 years before accompanying Unk to Luther Seminary in Minneapolis. Cathy partnered with Unk on 7 pastoral calls spanning 54 years, serving congregations in Dahlen, McCluskey, Cando, West Fargo, and Fargo, ND, and Black River Falls. In addition to her involvement in the Women’s Missionary Federation, ELCW, and WELCA, she taught Sunday School and can be credited with starting 3-year old Sunday School in several churches. She was a frequent church soloist and often recalled one year during which she sang for 38 weddings and 38 funerals. In 1994 as part of the Olivet Lutheran Church Choir, directed by Rene Clausen, she and Unk enjoyed the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall.

In addition to her roles as pastor’s wife and mother of four, Cathy was a substitute teacher and gave piano lessons from home for over 25 years. She was a talented pianist and avid reader, astutely political and had a keen sense of humor. She especially enjoyed the word game of Boggle with family and friends and enjoyed an annual reunion with her college “gang”.

Cathy adored children and had a special relationship with each of her four children and their families, as well as with her four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Even as her Alzheimer’s progressed, she delighted in babies.

Cathy leaves her husband and faithful caretaker, Thorwald, to carry on her legacy. In addition, she leaves four children; Anne (Larry) Lunda and Paul (Mary) Rykken, both of Black River Falls and Elizabeth (Robin Shaw) Rykken and Miriam (John Schulz) Rykken, both of St. Paul, MN; four grandchildren, Kathryn (Karl) Schweitz and Megan Rykken of Madison, Jacob (Kristen) Rykken of Fort Rucker, AL, and Erik Shaw of St. Paul, MN; three great grandchildren, Ramona, Thorwald, and Emma; a brother, John (Carol) Wambheim of Fargo. ND; a sister, Helen Hagen, of Moorhead, MN; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

In addition to her parents, Cathy was preceded in death by her parents-in-law Thorvald and Alma Rykken, and three sisters-in-law, Beatrice and Edith Rykken and June Slater.

Memorial funeral services will be at 11 A.M. Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at the Black River Falls Evangelical Lutheran Church. Services will be conducted by Pastor Ramie Bakken and burial will be in the Riverside Cemetery in Black River Falls. Relatives and friends may call at Torgerson’s Funeral Home (715-284-4321) 408 N. Water St. on Monday from 5 until 7 P.M. and at the church on Tuesday from 10 A.M. until the time of services.

The family prefers memorials be given to Evangelical Lutheran Church, Black River memorial Hospice, or Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

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