September 13, 1924 - February 19, 2018


Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 am, Saturday, February 24, 2018 at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Long Prairie, for Elizabeth “Betty” Etzell, age 93, of Long Prairie, who passed away on Monday at CentraCare Health Systems-Long Prairie. Fr. Omar Guanchez will officiate and burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Long Prairie. Family and friends may call from 4-7 pm Friday and after 8 am Saturday at Williams Dingmann Funeral Home – Stein Chapel, Long Prairie. St. Mary’s Catholic Women will pray the Rosary at 4 pm with parish prayers at 4:30 pm on Friday at the funeral home.
Elizabeth (Betty) Jean Etzell was born September 13, 1924 to Olaf and Rose Oleson at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd, Minnesota. She attended Pleasant Valley country school and graduated from high school in Pine River in 1942. She was an honor student and loved reading, English, poetry and music. She studied piano from an early age, and enjoyed playing the piano and singing. She sang in the St. Mary’s choir for many years and often played the organ for services. Later in life, she learned to play the violin and played in the Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra for many years. For several years Betty took organ lessons at the Franciscan Sisters in Little Falls.

Betty grew up on a farm near Pine River, Minnesota, with her parents and sisters who were all teachers. As a young girl, she always loved animals, and there were many on the farm. She had a pet chicken as well as dogs and many cats, and always had a special affection for cats.

Betty aspired to become a nurse. She attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and took courses in bacteriology. During this time, she met her husband, James Etzell. They were married on August 30, 1947, at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Together they operated a local newspaper in Moose Lake, Minnesota, then moved to Helena, Montana, then to Bertha, Minnesota, and then settled in Long Prairie, where they built a home that they loved. After James’ death in 1960, Betty worked at Todd County Public Health while raising her two children.

During her life, she was actively involved in St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She played organ, sang soprano in the choir, served in the religious education office, and assisted with RCIA. For many years she was also involved in literary club and played piano in the Nightingale Singers, a singing group which performed at several local nursing homes, as well as organizing the music and playing the organ for services at the Long Prairie Nursing Home. Betty was also an Oblate with the Sisters of Saint Benedict at St. Joseph, Minnesota.

Betty will be remembered for her gentle spirit, kind heart and generosity, as well as for her courage in facing life’s hardships, her lifelong love of learning, and the gifts of music and of friendship that she shared with others.

She is survived by her two children, Linda Murdock (Diane Muffitt), of Sudbury, Massachusetts, and John (Collette) Etzell, of Shoreview, Minnesota.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband James (1960); her sisters, Margaret Randall and Ruth Oleson, and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. Mary’s Catholic Church or the Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra.