Gladys Vanderwerff

Gladys (Nelson St. Vincent) Vanderwerff passed away to be with her Savior on August 29, 2023.

Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Garrison. Burial to follow at Garrison Cemetery.

Gladys was born in Wahpeton, ND on January 27, 1937, to Norman and Susanna Nelson, the middle child of three girls. She attended school first through eighth grade at Dwight and high school in Wahpeton. She worked at J.C. Pennys while in high school through D.E. Disruptive Education.

She then met the love of her life, “Johnny Van her motorcycle man.” They married in August 1954, and to this union had a son John Jr. and a daughter Susan. They lived in Dwight, Wahpeton-Breckenridge, and Savage, MN. They moved back to Dwight to take care of her mother who had ALS. John passed away in 1977. 

Gladys worked at J.C. Penny for two years, then Clems Cafe awhile, Cots Bakery, and Rosenblatt Sewing Center in the Wahpeton-Breckenridge area. They also had the Dwight Service Station and bar for a few years and later at Cenex in Garrison for 18 ½ years. She retired in July 2020.

She was a member of Dwight Faith Lutheran Church for many years, also a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church. She was a member of the Wahpeton Eagles for 68 years. She was a member of the Wahpeton Eagles drill team, where they performed at different Eagles and parades. She loved to strut her stuff.

She then moved to Garrison with her companion Ray St. Vincent so he could work at Coal Creek Station Power Plant, he was an Ironworker. They had a daughter Raeann. Ray passed away in June 1987.

Gladys loved to drive her Harley, she loved to dance (especially the jitterbug), bowl, play cards especially canasta with her son John Jr. She would sew many quilts tops for family and friends, also St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Garrison. She loved to plant flowers inside and outside, gardening, and to can and freeze. She had a green thumb.

Gladys is survived by her two daughters, Susan (Suzi) of Texas, Raeanne (RaeRae) of Garrison; grandchildren, Joe Swiontek, Wanda Engness, Jessica Kelley, Renee Wilm, Anthony Swiontek, Andrew Swiontek, Kelly Mews, Brittany St Vincent, Courtney Holland; great-grandchildren, Nicole Swiontek, Alexander Swiontek, Issak Engness, Ryan Swatzell, Bernadette Kelley, Morgan Wilm, Hayden Wilm, Gaige Swiontek, Shelby Swiontek, Deklyn Swiontek, Easlyn Swiontek, Levi Mews, Hendrix Andropolis, Arylean Parker, and Marceline St Vincent.

Gladys was preceded in death by her parents, Norman and Susanna Nelson; husband, John Sr.; son, John Jr.; sisters, Lois, Betty; nephew, Brian; in-laws, Charles and Effie Vanderwerff; longtime companion, Raymond (Ray) St Vincent; and uncles, aunts, and cousins. 

Gladys wrote her own obituary, but it doesn’t describe exactly how amazing she really was.

If anyone interested in donating to Glady’s final expenses can visit: https://gofund.me/36bb5f7d.

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