Cover photo for DOLORES Y. STENSETH's Obituary


May 5, 1929 — March 23, 2023


Dolores Yvonne Stenseth

Born May 5th,1929   Died March 23rd, 2023

Dolores Yvonne Stenseth passed away early Thursday morning, March 23rd, 2023.  She was 93.

Visitation will be held at the Gilbertson Funeral Home, Devils Lake on Monday, March 27, 2023 from 3:0 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. with a time of prayer and remembrance at 6:00 p.m.  The Funeral Service will be on Tuesday, March 28th at 11:00 a.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Devils Lake with Reverend JoHanna Buchholz officiating. Burial will be in the Devils Lake Cemetery.

She was born in Bottineau, North Dakota on May 5, 1929, the youngest of ten children of Ole and Anna Estenson.  She lived in several places in the western United States in her youth while her parents contended with the effects of the Great Depression before returning to North Dakota.  Most of her life was spent in Crary, and that community held a permanent special place in her heart.  It was where she graduated from high school, married, and raised her family.  In later years, she and her husband moved to Devils Lake.

She married the love of her life, Darrell (Bud) Herman Stenseth, a veteran returned from the European theater of World War II, on April 26, 1948.  Shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Peggy, Dolores was afflicted with tuberculosis and was admitted to San Haven Sanitarium on her 21st birthday and spent the next two years battling back from a dread disease.  Her new husband and daughter drove from Crary to Bottineau every weekend to visit and encourage her to focus and believe she would recover.  Dolores considered this early life challenge as transformative and cemented her marriage and faith. Upon her recovery, she and Darrell had four more children, fulfilling what Dolores viewed as her primary and sacred duty.  But she and her husband were also active contributors to the community life in Crary, serving in many voluntary roles such as school board, church council, and rural fire department.  As her children grew, Dolores rejoined the work force and spent several years with the US Postal Service before a long term of employment at Lake Region Community College.

They raised five children, all who survive her: daughter Peggy Darlene Dettmer (Ed) of Robins, Iowa; Monica Joy Sabo (Denny) of Bigfork, Montana; Mark Darrell Stenseth (Carrie) of Tucson, Arizona, Tracy Devonne Christie (Bob) of Devils Lake,  Jeffrey Jon Stenseth (Tracey) of Fargo.  She was blessed with twelve grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren who also survive her. 

Family and faith were everything to Dolores. In later life, her family and friends knew her fondly as Grandma Dee.  She made each member of her family feel treasured. She never forgot a birthday or an anniversary and her family were certain Dolores contributed mightily to Hallmark’s profits over the years.  Her home was always open for friends and strangers, living out an obedient service of her Christian faith, and caring for others well into her later years.  She was known for her strength and perseverance. Her faith sustained her.  She trusted in God and he provided. She was a devout Christian and embodied the love, kindness, compassion and patience taught by Jesus Christ. She was certainly the hands and feet of Jesus to many who met her.

Inseparable from her faith and life was her love of music, and lyrics also triggered a lifelong passion for poetry.  From the first time she sang in harmony at the age of ten at a 50th wedding anniversary until literally the end of her life, Dolores saw music and singing as her responsibility to make the world a better place.  She recited poems learned in her youth from memory even in her final years.  These loves were passed on to her children and her grandchildren and manifested in numerous ways in performance and theater.  Truly Dolores took to heart the command in Psalms to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." ~ Psalm 100:1-5

Her extended family say it is difficult to find words how special she was as a mother and a motivator or how much she loved them and made each one of them feel treasured. Yet, the heartfelt tributes and accolades have filled conversation and social media posts upon her passing.  They believe she had a true servant’s heart. Taking care of her family was her mission in life and she did it with grace and love. There was never a time they did not know just how very much she loved them. She gave them appreciation and affirmation, the things money can never buy: a special cake on a birthday, long conversations over fresh-brewed coffee, phone calls to check in, smiles and laughs to celebrate the joys in life, a shoulder to cry on in the darkest hours and plenty of hugs.  She almost never missed a recital, graduation, birthday party, performance or special event no matter where her children and grandchildren lived, even when the health of her husband of sixty years began to fail.

As mentioned above, Dolores is survived by all of her children; one sister, Arlowene Halldorson; many nieces, nephews and their families. She was preceded in death by her husband, Darrell (Bud) Stenseth, her parents, and eight of her siblings.

Casket Bearers will be Dolores's Grandchilden: Cody Christie, Parker Stenseth, Joshua Stenseth, Brynna Estenson, Michelle Johnson and Colleen Theisen. Reading Scripture will be Dolores's Mark Stenseth and her grandson Parker Stenseth.  Music will be provided by Patty Cote and Jean Aardahl. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Our Saviors Lutheran Church, 612 14th Avenue NE, Devils Lake, ND  58301
Gilbertson’s Funeral Home offers a site to share online condolences with family and friends at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of DOLORES Y. STENSETH, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Monday, March 27, 2023

3:00 - 6:00 pm (Central time)

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Time of Sharing and Remembrance

Monday, March 27, 2023

Starts at 6:00 pm (Central time)

Gilbertson-Gloger Funeral Home

509 U.S. Route 2, Devils Lake, ND 58301

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Funeral Service

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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