Monica Ehly Lang Van Elsen


Monica Ehly Lang Van Elsen


Monica Lang
Monica Lang

Monica Ehly Lang Van Elsen died Saturday, March 12, 2016. Our mother was 101 years old. She was born on Aug. 11, 1914, to German immigrants Kasimir Ehly and Katerina Schmidtz in Richardton, N.D.

From there, they moved to Montana in a hay wagon pulled by two “beautiful grey horses.” The little family settled on the Powder River in the Ekalaka/Miles City area with Father, Mother, Monica, Margaret, George and Leo, all of whom preceded her in death. They ranched cattle and farmed wheat on what Mother described as “rich, wonderful river-bed soil.” The ranch was an integral part of our lives into our late teens until our grandparents died in the 1950s.

Mother told of being poor and of hard times, of their only worn-out milk cow dying and of struggling to buy chicken feed. Of crops dying of drought, of cattle dying of starvation, of coyotes preying on the geese they “herded,” standing for hours in the sun.

But she also told of the happy, helpful comingling of all neighbors. She told of Grandpa playing the accordion in theirs’ and the neighbors’ houses while everyone danced in the cleared kitchen and, because of the distance, the children slept the night on chairs pulled together against the walls in the parlors. Of Grandpa’s pipe, the German newspapers read by kerosene lamps and finally a radio. Of Grandma always working, of her strudel and enormous raised donuts. Crying, laughing, hugging — the rosary said every night, men and women leaning against kitchen chairs. Grandma leading them in German.

Monica rode winters double-horseback to a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade. She, like other country girls, attempted high school while working board and room in Miles City at Holy Rosary Hospital. She worked for four years to send fifteen dollars each month to help “save the ranch” during the deep Depression.

Mother then moved to Billings to work for Mr. and Mrs. Ray Hart. She remembered that time as one of her happiest. “Such an easy job.” There were summers at Flathead Lake, her own little car, walks in Pioneer Park and bicycling down Virginia Lane to downtown. There was now enough money for pretty clothes, for jodhpurs and high riding boots when she visited the ranch. She was beautiful.

Monica says she “fell in love” with John Van Elsen and that they married in the rectory, because it was Lent, at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, on March 19, 1938. Then came the war years, during which their three children were born. Our father died on April 28, 1951.

Mother worked at several jobs until she was happily employed by First Interstate Bank for many years. Before and after retirement, indeed throughout all her life, there were always people. Mother was a “people person.” She loved cooking for them — big crowds of family and friends in her “little yellow house.”

She lived her Catholic faith and enjoyed volunteer work in her church. Monica loved dancing; “as light as a feather,” people said.

After remaining a widow for 29 years, Monica danced into marriage with Julius Lang on Sept. 17, 1980. A good man, they were happy until again Monica was widowed. Jules died in 1988.

Monica “kept going” as she always had for the next 25 years with her roses and garden, families, new friends and old. She was issued her last driver’s license in 2008.

Preceding her in death were her parents; her siblings, Margaret McCartney, George and Leo Ehly; her son, John Van Elsen and two young adult grandchildren, Steven Erdmann and Holly Van Elsen. Included are two stepsons, Lester and John Lang. Monica is survived by two daughters, RoseMarie Brink (Gary) and Marcella Erdmann (Bill); stepson Bob Lang (Linda); her beloved daughter-in-law, Karen (Van Elsen) Carl and her husband Ray Carl; grandchildren Laurie Burke (Jack), Gary Brink (Maggie), John Brink, Michelle Van Elsen, Mitch Erdmann (Rosemary) and Bill Erdmann. She had 14 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. Included is her brother-in-law, Seivert “Bud” Rist and his children; her cousins, Henry Schmidtz (Pat) and Margie Wilker, both of Canada, Kenny Ehly and his wife (Daphne), plus many other special nieces and nephews. Lastly, Dr. Lashman and wife August Soriya and daughters (her “second family”). Our special gratitude and affection to Linda Merhert, without whom Monica could not have lived alone.

Services are entrusted to Michelotti-Sawyers.

A rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, followed by a vigil at 7 p.m., at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Mass will be celebrated at 12 noon on Wednesday, March 23, at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, 215 N. 31st St. A luncheon will be served immediately following Mass at the church. Interment will follow in the cemetery in Lavina.

Monica always said she lived in the “best of times — from the buggy to the moon.” Now she is gone from the moon to the Beyond, and our love goes with her forever.

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0 thoughts on “Monica Ehly Lang Van Elsen”

  1. Michelle Hanson

    I loved you so much, Grammie! You were such an inspiration to me with your love and real advice on how to treat others and live life. Even though we lived far apart, I thought about you daily. I will see you in heaven. As you always said, “I love, love, love you, my sweetheart.”

  2. I Knew monica all my life, she was my Godmother. I lived in Alaska until 2012 when I moved back to Billings. I rekindled our relationship and got to know her again. She told me so many stories that made us both laugh. I chose to move back to Alaska in 2014 and knew she would not be around much longer. she was such a devoted and caring person always remembering me at special events even though I was pitifully shy when I was very young she still took the time and I will never forget her caring heart. Out of all of the kids in the family I got the best Godmother of us all. I will miss writing to you every week but know you were ready to go be with those you left behind.

  3. I will miss you so much Grammie, you taught me how to live with peace and to trust that God is number one in my life always. Times in my life have been blessed because of you. Thanks for teaching me how to cook German food for Steve.God bless you , we will meet again hold hands and pray like we use to.Rest in peace my sweet Grammie. Love, Margaret Gonzalez Erdmann Beler

  4. She was a dear was my pleasure to be her neighbor and caregiver and friend…she will be missed….I will always remember our many “discussions and talks”..peace is yours my friend…..

  5. Dearest Monica, my life’s treasured blessing. From the time we met in 1973 you have been a treasured blessing to my husband and four daughters, as well. Leaving you was the very hardest part of our moving from Billings in 2013 for our whole family. I treasure forever the times we spent together, our long chats and precious visits. The love you lived and the wisdom you taught through example of how to cope with life’s ups and downs strengthens and guides me always. I carry you always in a warm and loving place in my heart. I love and miss you, My Dearest, Precious Monica.

  6. Hank took to Billings for the first time 1970 instantly became friends that has only grown through out the years we laughed cried and shared many great memories. She was such a great lady that impact many life’s. We will miss the letters keeping us in touch with all that was going on .
    We have lost a beautiful soul , friend to so many and loved by all who met her.
    We will never forget you or get tired of telling stories of our time together
    Our love forever Hank/ Pat

  7. Kenny and Daphne Ehly

    Dearest Aunt Monica, From the very first time we meet in December 1974 at Kenny,s Mom,S HOUSE IN Ekalaka Montana. I was so impressed with your beauty and the love you showed and shared with every one.Over the years I was furtunate to get to know just how precious and loving you were. Kenny and I enjoyed your beautifully written long letters , Telling all the lastest family news. Evan giving me some extra guidance while I was going through a hard time .She was such a strong Lady and had overcome so many hard times in her long beautiful life. No one better to give true loving advice , than a lady that had been there and done most of what any living person could ever hope to do. Or never wanted to do. Dearest Aunt Monica was one of the most interesting ladies I have ever meet. I will always treasure her loving way she welcomed me into the Ehly family. Kenny had the sweetest loving strong beautiful amazing Auntie. I feel very blessed to have been able to call her my Aunt, Actually she was the closest I had to feeling a love ,like my dear Mother gave me. I WILL TREASURE HER LOVE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Kenny and I will miss her SO MUCH. Iam sure the Angels and all our gone before loved ones .Are having the best Celebration ever. Now that the beautiful Lady Monica is watching over all her loved ones from Heaven. Sadly missed always loved. Until we meet again Dearest Aunt Monica .Daphne and Kenny.

  8. Georgia Mentikov

    Dear Monica, You were so special to our family, the Mentikovs,
    Always enjoyed visiting with you and keeping in touch at Christmas! Will miss you so much! God Bless until we meet
    again. You were a class act!

  9. It’s hard for me to put into words how much I love Aunt Monica. As far as I can remember we’ve been pen pals and I’ll never forget all of the loving exchanges between us via mail. I remember her address more than my own as that never changed. In a world where so much change was happening, she was my constant reminder that the good old values were what mattered. I cherish her for loving me like she did despite the distance between us. I’m so sorry for the loss you’re feeling during this difficult time. I’ll remember her always and will feel her loving arms around me as I snuggle with the blanket she lovingly made for me. Until we meet again – I love you! ?

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