Charles Williams Hulsether was a beloved husband, father, Lutheran Minister, and friend to many. He lived a rich and long life of 95 years, mainly in Northeastern Iowa and Southwestern Wisconsin. But his body finally gave out and he died peacefully on April 26, 2022, at the Bethel Oaks memory care facility in Viroqua, Wis.
“Chuck,” as most people called him, was born on Oct.10, 1926, to George and Mabel (Williams) Hulsether, on a small dairy farm in the Norwegian-American community at Castle Rock, near Fennimore, Wis. He could remember the coming of its first tractor and first electricity. He played baseball on his high school team and ran the farm when his brother Gordon was in the Navy during World War II. Later he was drafted for the Korean War and served as a cook on an Army base in Alabama. Afterward, in the mid-1950s, he used the GI Bill to attend Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he attained what would today be called a Master of Divinity degree.
During a summer at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis, he met the love of his life, a Swedish-American schoolteacher named Harriet Wedin from the St. Croix Valley of Northwestern Wisconsin. They married in 1956 and shortly afterward had three children, Mark, Sue, and Sara. He became a Parish Minister in the American Lutheran Church (later part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and led four churches in Iowa: Williams (near Ames), Elvira (near Clinton), Nashua, and Kanawha (both near Mason City). In Elvira he gained a footnote in history as the first ever Norwegian-American minister in Iowa to lead a German-American congregation. His last parish was the Mt. Sterling/Utica Parish near his birthplace. He then worked for six years as the Chaplain of the Bethel Home in Viroqua, where he developed and became the first Director of its Foundation.
He and Harriet moved to Viroqua in the mid-1990s. In their retirement they traveled far and wide, so that before Chuck turned 92 he had visited all 50 states and five other countries. Both before and after Harriet's death in 2014 he was active in many Lutheran church networks, at the local golf course and wellness center, in the Viroqua Men's Chorus, and as an accomplished Norwegian woodcarver. He moved first to Maplewood Terrace assisted living and later to Bethel Oaks starting after 2018.
Charles leaves behind for his many friends a huge store of good energy and a long legacy of thoughtful, compassionate, and faithful work in his ministries, always circling back to core Lutheran teachings about a universe filled by a God of grace. We were lucky to have him in our lives for so long. He outlived all of his and Harriet's siblings plus one grandchild, Mark Hulsether McKee. He is survived by his children and their spouses: Mark Hulsether and Anne McKee of Maryville, Tenn., Sue Hulsether ‘81 and Steve Hanson of Viroqua, and Sara Hulsether ‘85 and John Brugge ‘85 of Madison; his grandchildren: Lucia Hulsether, Douglas Hulsether, Dominic Brugge, Mariah Hulsether-Brugge, and Joel Hulsether-Brugge; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
The family would like to thank Hirsch Clinic, Maplewood Terrace, Bethel Oaks, and St. Croix Hospice for their loving care. Memorial gifts may be given to the ECLA World Hunger Appeal or a charity of the donor's choice.
A Memorial Service was held on May 2, 2022, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Viroqua. Visitation was held May 1, 2022 at Vosseteig-Larson Funeral Home in Viroqua. Burial was at Castle Rock Lutheran Cemetery. Online Condolences may be expressed at www.vossfh.com