Lois Maxine Olson Cruthers, 96, of Luck, WI died Saturday, May 8, 2021 at the Amery Hospital as a result of Covid pneumonia. She was born April 16, 1925 to the late John Oscar Olson and Cora Ellen (Replogle) Olson on the family farm about 2 ½ miles northeast of Cushing in the Town of Laketown. It was fortunate that a maternal aunt of Cora’s, Ellen Mick, lived nearby to assist in the delivery as Lois arrived before Dr. Diamond could get there.
Lois was the oldest of two daughters born to Johnny and Cora. Baby sister Muriel would arrive just three years later. The two of them grew up on the family farm spending time with their paternal grandparents and with many other Olson and Jensen relatives living nearby. Sometimes they would spend the night at the grandparents and Uncle Harvey would make popcorn or taffy. At other times they visited maternal grandparents, and aunts, uncles and cousins in southeast Iowa.
Before Lois was able to speak very clearly, she asked her mother and aunt for a ‘tina’. It took quite a while for the adults to figure out that Lois was asking for a pencil. Starting at a young age Lois had an interest in art, especially drawing. Growing up, if she had a little money saved, she would buy pencils, drawing paper or books as she also loved to read. Some of the art she created while at the Alabama grade school helped the school win awards at a fair in Luck. Creating and enjoying art was a hobby and interest she carried throughout her life.
Another hobby began when Lois was a child. When her dad plowed the fields, she would walk behind in the furrow looking for agates to save. In one pocket she had raisins to eat as a snack while placing agates she found in another pocket. Over the years, Lois saved quite a few coffee cans of pretty rocks. In later years she enjoyed attending rock shows held locally.
When Lois was ten years old, she received a .22 caliber rifle as a present and learned to shoot. She and her aunt Alice (Harvey’s wife) would go crow hunting. Lois recalled one time when she was out with her gun that she spotted a white owl and stalked it all over their farm, but it never lit in one place long enough for her to shoot. Years later she commented that she was so glad she did not shoot that owl. Between the grandparents’ farm and that of a neighbor there was a hollow with a pond – the neighbor raised hogs. In the winter, the kids would skate and play hockey on the pond and occasionally one of the hogs would steal a shoe.
Lois walked to the Alabama Grade School where she completed grades one through eight. She began her freshman year at Luck High School in the fall of 1939 where she met the man she would eventually marry. She graduated in the class of 1943. After high school, her cousin encouraged her to apply for a job in the Twin Cities. On September 13, 1943 she reported to her first day of work at Northwest Airlines Modification Center at Holman Field, becoming a “Rosey the riveter”. She worked on the B-24 Liberator, wiring instrument panels and radar. Her favorite job was working in the ‘krib’ – the parts department. When she started at Northwest Airlines, she earned 60 cents per hour and had to pass an exam in order to increase her wage. Her last day of work at Northwest was August 23, 1945 due to a reduction in the workforce needs – the war was almost over. Lois then returned home.
On September 14, 1946 in a small ceremony at the Atlas Methodist Church, Lois was united in marriage to Max Carter Cruthers. Soon after they were wed, Max and Lois bought the old Claus Pedersen homestead in Laketown and the two of them started farming for themselves. This is where they raised their four children. In the beginning they had seven cows, a few chickens, and two horses who were a challenge to catch. They had no electricity, no phone, pumped water by hand from the well and carried it to the house and had an outhouse. They had a wood cook stove and a parlor furnace to keep the three rooms of a very poorly insulated house warm. In the winter they would put up ice from their pond for the ice box. They eventually got a telephone (a party line) and got electricity about 1951. With some of the money she saved from her Northwest Airlines job, she bought them a new International Harvester refrigerator. A couple of years after they were married Max taught Lois how to drive their 1929 Model A Ford and she got her driver’s license. Just before Christmas of 1960 they moved into the new home they built. The two of them retired from dairy farming about 1991 and for a number of years raised a large beef herd.
Throughout her life, Lois loved learning. Whenever one of the kids or a friend was learning something new, especially craft-type activities, she was interested. Cake decorating, knitting, crocheting, tatting, rosemaling, woodworking, quilting, macrame’, sewing, needlepoint, scrapbooking, card making, ceramics…the list goes on. On more than one occasion she said she did not understand how anyone could be bored – there were just too many things to learn. In her earlier years she loved tennis and bowling. For many years she played on a horseshoe team sponsored by Magnus & Boots Rasmussen at the Luck Locker. She also played in tournaments; Lois could be quite competitive. She loved looking for treasures at flea markets or antique stores, attending events the grandchildren were part of, and the sound of old-time music. She was also active with the Methodist Women at the Atlas Methodist Church. She and Max continued to heat their home with wood until about one year prior to his death in 2016 and she often accompanied him to the woods. After Max died on December 31, 2016 Lois moved to the Village of Luck to a home they owned. She continued to live there until hospitalized on May 5, 2021.
Lois was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and a good friend. She was selfless, doing many things for family and friends and typically put her own needs last. She adored animals, especially her cat Dusty and was quick to show photographs of him to anyone willing to look.
Lois was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 70 years; a grandson, Jason Peppenger; sister-in-law, Virginia Almquist; and two brothers-in-law, Russell Almquist and George Melvin Sater.
She is survived by daughters, Maxine (Wayne) Peppenger, Vicke (Timothy) Erickson both of Luck, Diana (Michael) Erickson of Frederic, and son, James (Daniel Green) of Hilbert (Calumet County) Wisconsin. She is further survived by grandchildren, Michael (Roxanne) Peppenger, Quinn (Brenda) Erickson, Erin (Jay) Volgren, Brooke (David) Mott, Selena (Jason) Frenette, and Hilary (Jake) Ridgeway, as well as 20 great-grandchildren: Jesse Peppenger, Megan Peppenger, Samuel, Micaiah, and Grace Erickson, Amaya, Elijah, Alana, Ryan, Gunther, Ayana, Avala, Meredith, Clarabelle, and Gabriel Volgren; Kamryn and Logan Mott, Madison Frenette, Hailey and Carter Ridgeway; sister, Muriel Sater of Madison; nieces, nephews, and many friends. The family would like to extend a special thank you to Sue Stuivenga, the staff at Amery Hospital, and the Luck Ambulance Crew.
A celebration of Lois’s life will be held Saturday, June 26, 2021. Lois will be cremated and along with the cremains of her husband Max, will be interred at a service at 12:00 noon at Haustrup Cemetery (two miles north of Luck to CTH B then west about 2 ½ miles) followed by a picnic lunch at 1:00pm at the home of Cousin Marjorie Mattson, 2137 – 295th Avenue, CTH B (Atlas), Luck, WI.
You are invited to leave condolences, memories and photos at www.rowefh.com
. Arrangements are entrusted to Rowe Funeral Home, 715-472-2444 and the Northwest Wisconsin Cremation Center in Milltown.