Cover photo for Sylvia Behl's Obituary
Sylvia Behl Profile Photo
1925 Sylvia 2017

Sylvia Behl

May 29, 1925 — December 24, 2017

Funeral services for Sylvia Behl, age 92, of Starbuck, Minnesota will be on Friday, December 29, 2017 at Fron Lutheran Church in Starbuck at 1:30 p.m. with a visitation beginning at 12:30p.m. at the church.  Burial will be in the Fron Lutheran Church Cemetery, rural Starbuck.  Sylvia died peacefully on Sunday, December 24, 2017 at the Glacial Ridge Hospital in Glenwood, Minnesota.

Sylvia Viola Gierke Behl was born to The Rev. Paul and Rose Gierke at Melrose, Minnesota in the parsonage of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on May 29, 1925, on a Friday at 5 minutes to 1 AM.  She was 9 lbs., 22 inches.

She was baptized on June 7, 1925 in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church by her father, The Rev. Paul H.T. Gierke.

She was confirmed on April 2, 1939, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Shible Township, Appleton, Minnesota by her father, The Rev. Paul Gierke.

Sylvia attended parochial grade school at Immanuel Lutheran School, Shible Township, Appleton, Minnesota.  Her teacher was very strict and many of the boys received lickings from him with a stick, but he only had to remind Sylvia that she was the minister’s daughter for her to behave. She had this same teacher for all 8 grades.

She attended Appleton High School. She stayed in town with different people in order to attend high school.  The last 2 years she had her own kerosene stove to cook on for herself. She played trumpet in the band. She graduated in May of 1943.

She attended Abbott School of Nursing for 3 years.  She was in the Cadet Nurses Corps and would have served in WWII had the war continued.  She graduated May 28, 1946.

She met Stan Behl on May 8, 1946, when he and his mother came to Bemidji to visit Stan’s sister Bernadine when they were at Bemidji Hospital for rural nurses training.  Stan had served in Belgium and Germany during WWII.  He had been discharged from the service in April and had not seen his family for two and a half years.  He decided to come up for a visit.  He offered to take out the student nurses for the evening.  Sylvia was one of them, and she always remembered being introduced to him in the nurses’ lounge in the lower level of the Bemidji hospital.  They all went to Red Rooster Night Club.  All the girls vied for Stan’s attention, but he had his eye on the prettiest one.  He and Sylvia fell in love and were engaged in August 1946.  Sylvia worked as surgical supervisor at the Montevideo Hospital until they were married on June 1, 1947.

After they were first married, they lived in Milan, Minnesota, where Stan managed the Milan locker plant. Vicky and Paul were born at the Montevideo Hospital. They lived in Milan until May 1951 when Stan was recalled into service during the Korean Conflict.  Then they lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, while he was at Fort Custer.  Stan served as an Army Captain in Korea for one year, coming home in March of 1953.  While Stan was overseas, Sylvia, Vicky and Paul lived in Trimont, Minnesota, to be close to her parents.

When Stan returned from Korea, he began his newspaper career at the Trimont Progress while Sylvia worked as a nurse in surgery at Trimont Hospital.  Jody was born in Trimont two weeks before moving to Starbuck. They lived in Starbuck for the remainder of their lives.

In Korea, Stan had been touched by the plight of the children of Korea, and he and Sylvia decided to adopt a child.  On June 3, 1965, Stan, Sylvia and Jody drove to Minneapolis to meet Greg.  They took him out for a malted milk shake, and he ate Jody’s fries instead. The next day they returned to bring Greg home.   Two days later Paul was confirmed, and Greg was baptized by Pastor Paul Tolo.   Two days after that was Greg’s 4th birthday. Greg thought his family really liked to party.

Sylvia worked at Starbuck Hospital from November 1956 until her heart surgery in 1976.  After that, she did in-service nursing work.  She taught some of the first CPR classes in Pope County.  When Stan bought the Starbuck Times in 1972, she helped him out at the Times office building ads and page layouts and gradually did more and more at the Times.  They were both very proud of the weekly paper that they put out week after week for almost 10 years. They sold the paper in July of 1981.  After retirement they did some traveling but mostly enjoyed each other and their home on Lake Minnewaska. After Stan passed in November of 1987, Sylvia continued to live at their lake home until 2002.

Sylvia did much volunteer work during her lifetime and was very involved in church work. She was President of the local church women’s organization and then was President of the Morris Conference ALCW for 4 years and then served as Secretary of Stewardship for the Southwestern District of Minnesota for 6 years.  She sewed many quilts and baby layettes for charities.  As part of the Study Club, she was very instrumental in compiling the Starbuck history book.  She was on the board of the Pope County American Cancer Society and received a 5-year pin for recognition of public education by the Pope County Cancer Society.

In 2002, Sylvia officially entered her golden years when she started dating again. She and Pat Olson had many a good laugh together. The seven splendid years they shared were a marvelous time for both of them. Sylvia became a part Norwegian Olson and remained close to Pat’s family.

Sylvia was an exceptional caretaker and was very involved in her grandchildren’s lives. All of her grandchildren and great grandchildren were always very special to her.

Sylvia will be remembered by all who knew her as a petite woman with a generous and vivacious spirit who first and foremost lived her steadfast faith in Christ Jesus.

Sylvia is survived by her children: Dr. Victoria Hammer, Starbuck, MN, Paul Stanley Behl, Minneapolis, MN, Jody (Keith) Pizzala, Plymouth, MN, and  Gregory (Misty) Behl, Spring, TX; grandchildren: John (Jill) Hammer, Grand Cache, Alberta, Canada, Dr. Kate (Ricky) Hammer-Myrick, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Joe (Kayla) Hammer, Big Lake, Minnesota, Brandon Behl, Houston, Texas ,Jermaine Behl, Houston, Texas, Whitney Rose Behl, Austin, Texas, Tatiana Behl, Spring, Texas, Brielle Sylvie Pizzala, Plymouth MN, Nicolas Pizzala, Plymouth, MN; great-grandchildren: Kyle and Elizabeth Hammer (John's children), Eva Myrick (Kate's daughter), and Brice and Alayna Hammer (Joe's children);  one sister, Irma Grunst;  and sister-in-law, Lorraine Gierke.  She is preceded in death by her husband, Stanley Lincoln Behl; special friend, Tilford "Pat" Olson; brother, Leonard Gierke; sisters: Cordula Trapp, Renata Holdahl and Esther Burgdorf;  son-in-law, Dr. Ted Hammer; and Pat Olson’s son-in-law, Tom Hesse.

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