“In Memoriam” listings are expanded paid obituaries, phrased as the family requests, and may include enhanced information or photographs that might not fit within free death notices.
Edla Josephine Mostrom was born to gold miner Nels and wife Hulda (Carlberg) Mostrom on March 18, 1924, in Victor, Colorado. In 1925, the family, including Edla’s 5-year-old sister, Edith, moved to a 70-acre farm in Morris County, Kansas, just north of Marion Hill Lutheran Church on the suggestion of Edla’s uncle, J.J. Richard, who was the pastor.
She attended the one-room Marion Hill School just south of the church for eight years. There were no school buses, so on Sundays for the next four years Nels took her by horse and buggy to Dwight. There she worked through the week for her room and board while attending Dwight High School. On Fridays, Nels would bring her home. Teachers encouraged her artistic nature and in her senior year, Edla was the yearbook art editor. In the summers, she worked at the local grain elevator.
After graduating in 1942, she attended Emporia State Teachers College one year, earning her way by working in a campus office and serving food behind the steam tables to 500 World War II cadets training there. At the time, one year of college was all that was required to be a teacher. Edla received a three-year teaching certificate and began her elementary school career in Burns, Kansas. She had 24 first- and second-graders that first year.
The first time local farmer Edgar Freeland saw Edla, he decided she was the one. They married in her family church on May 19, 1946. Since Edgar was the quiet one of the pair, Edla often introduced the couple as Ed and Ed. Burns would not employ married female teachers then, so she taught in nearby Florence the following year.
She stopped teaching the year son David Edgar was born. Daughters Gloria Beth and Gaila Marie followed. She fed chickens, milked cows, and worked the large family garden, including canning its bounty. Edla taught Sunday school, was a 4-H leader, and was a member of Marion County Federated Clubs, Delta Kappa Gamma, Twentieth Century Club, and Farm Bureau. She also honed her artistic skills by sending her drawings and other art to an art institute for critiques.
In 1959, she returned to both teaching and Emporia State Teachers College, typing her college papers on her tiny portable typewriter. She attended classes on weekends and during the summers, describing it as earning her “degree by degrees.” In 1965, David graduated from high school and Edla from college.
She loved both teaching and art. She spent hours decorating her classrooms with rock, seashell, insect and nest collections, setting up teepees to teach children about Native Americans, and teaching cursive writing to music accompaniment. Her 31-year Kansas teaching career was spent in Burns, Florence, DeGraff, Winfield, and Chelsea schools.
After retiring in 1986, Edla worked on art projects, including painting landscapes and portraits of her grandchildren, sketching the family’s farms, collecting photos and making models of Kansas barns, and creating displays at Burns Community Historical Society museum. She loved planting and tending flowers and, when arthritis made that difficult, she enjoyed instructing others how to plant and tend them.
Edla traveled to Hawaii, went on an Alaskan cruise, and visited many states in the contiguous U.S. She especially enjoyed the family’s train trips to California to visit Edgar’s two brothers and families. She traveled to Bolivia six times to be with daughter Gaila and family, to Costa Rica to visit daughter Gloria, and to Sweden to meet Mostrom and Carlberg relatives. She particularly enjoyed seeing the home Nels had built for his parents before he left Sweden in 1909.
Proud to be completely Swede, she hung a Dala horse on her porch and she served coffee in mugs decorated with Swedish sayings. She loved eating lutfisk, Swedish meatballs, pickled herring, and other Swedish delights at the annual Olsburg, Kansas, Swedish Dinner. Many happy hours were spent with sister “Edee” sharing stories about the family’s Swedish traditions.
Ed and Ed moved from their Farm Bureau Century Farm to Manhattan, Kansas, in October 2000, quickly connecting with neighbors and First Lutheran Church. Edla joined Manhattan Area Retired Educators Association (MAREA), where she served as historian. She lovingly cared for Edgar until his death Nov. 18, 2002.
She was an avid photographer, and birthday parties, family meals, and holiday events were all delayed so more pictures could be taken. She loved snuggling with her cat Oreo, doing word searches, and watching painter Bob Ross on television. “Wheel of Fortune” was required viewing and Edla often told others to quiet down so she could hear better.
But more than anything, Edla loved being with and talking to her family and friends. Through MAREA, she met Stanley Leland, and he became her loving companion for more than 10 years. Stan helped Edla write her memoirs and the book, “District Schools of Morris County, Kansas.” He also introduced her to email, Facebook, and Solitaire.
Edla enjoyed celebrating the graduation of all six grandchildren from college, hosting numerous family events, and seeing her five great-grandchildren — her “greats,” as she called them.
Edla died Feb. 20, 2016, at Wroten House, Meadowlark Hills, where she had been a resident since December.
Survivors include Stan Leland and his family; son David and wife Linda of Salina, Kansas, and their sons, Paul Freeland and wife Rachel and their children, Sydney, Chase and Erynn of Melissa, Texas; and Michael Freeland and wife Kristina and their sons Gabriel and Dominic of Salina; daughter Gloria Freeland and husband Arthur Vaughan and their daughters Mariya and Katherine Vaughan, all of Manhattan; daughter Gaila Chambi and husband Humberto of La Paz, Bolivia, and their daughters Gabriela of Washington, District of Columbia, and Larisa of Lawrence, Kansas; sister Edith Keys of Overland Park, Kansas; brother-in-law Stanley Freeland and wife Kay of Chino Hills, California; nephews Bob, Jeff, and Peter Freeland and Ron Keys and their families; niece Linda Stetzler and her family; and many friends in Burns and Manhattan.
Edla was preceded in death by her parents; husband Edgar; son-in-law Jerome Johanning; brothers-in-law Ellis “Bud” Keys and Robert S. Freeland; and sisters-in-law Hazel Freeland, June Freeland, and Iris Freeland.
Arrangements are with Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home in Manhattan, Kansas. Memorial contributions may be made to Burns United Methodist Church, Burns Community Historical Society, or Homecare and Hospice of Manhattan.
A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at First Lutheran Church, 930 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan. The family will have a celebration of Edla’s life at Burns United Methodist Church in summer 2016. Inurnment will be in Burns Cemetery in Burns, Kansas, at that time.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Bramlage House and Wroten House, Homecare and Hospice of Manhattan, the volunteers of Meals on Wheels, members of MAREA and the First Lutheran Church, and her Burns and Manhattan friends and neighbors who have shown her so much love over the years.
Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at www.ymlfuneralhome.com.