Michelle Rosendahl, 53, died Thursday, August 19th, at Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge. We will celebrate Michelle's life on her 54th birthday, Thursday, September 9th.
Michelle Margaret Rosendahl was born on September 9th, 1967, the fifth child and only daughter of Richard and Maxine Rosendahl. Michelle defied the odds from birth. Initially not expected to survive more than a few days, she was baptized in an incubator in the hospital; she rallied and went home a short time later. At a time when the life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome was 25 years, she not only survived, but thrived, for more than half a century. Her success was thanks in no small part to the fierce advocacy of her parents, who refused to accept the notion that their daughter should be institutionalized or that she would never talk or walk.
Michelle was raised on the family farm near Knierim and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Knierim. She attended school at Sherman country school and graduated from Manson High School, and in 1986 she moved to New Hope Village in Carroll. At New Hope, she blossomed. Through New Hope’s career services, she worked at Pizza Hut, Pella Windows, Pepsi, and City Hall, among other places. She attended church services every week at St. John Lutheran Church. She participated in equestrian therapy and was on a bowling team. She was a member (often stealing the show) of New Hope’s Praising Hands Sign Choir, which provided her with the opportunity to perform annually at the Iowa State Fair and at the inauguration of Governor Tom Vilsack. She was a Special Olympics athlete for much of her life, competing in track and field in her youth and in swimming as an adult. Her competitive nature wasn’t limited to the track or the pool - games of Trouble, Uno, and Wii Bowling with her were epic, and she would often remind you it was “just a game” when she was beating you.
She visited many places across the United States, including Disneyland and Disney World and Branson, Missouri. An avid fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes for much of her life, she switched allegiances when her niece Jill enrolled at Iowa State, and from then on cheered on the Cyclones and “her bird,” Cy. She loved meeting new people and made friends everywhere she went. It was impossible for her to go anywhere in Carroll - and often beyond - without running into someone she knew. Michelle was simply special to everyone who was lucky enough to meet her. More than anything, Michelle loved her family, especially her nieces and nephews, who adored her.
Aging was not something Michelle dreaded or feared - in fact, she embraced it. For many years leading up to her 40th birthday she talked with great excitement about going “over the hill” and having a party with black balloons, and her family was happy to oblige, throwing her a surprise party for her 40th birthday and another one for her 50th. She was always full of life and exuded joy, and even as Alzheimer’s took its toll on her memory, she was still constantly smiling and laughing.
Left to cherish her memory and carry on her legacy are her brothers, Grant of Swea City; Byron (Debbie) of Fort Dodge; and Lynn (Carol) of Rosemount, Minn.; sister-in-law Suzie Rosendahl of Erie, Penn.; nieces and nephews Jerad (Jodi) Rosendahl of Bradford, Penn., Mykal (Tom) Livak of Natick, Mass.; Haley (Travis) Flenker of Cedar Rapids; Austin Rosendahl of Rosemount, Minn; Erica Rosendahl of Farmington, Minn.; Greg Rosendahl of Erie, Penn.; Daniel Rosendahl of Danville, Penn.; Jill (Aaron) Nelson of Somers; and Mitch Rosendahl of Fort Dodge; seven great nieces and nephews; and a multitude of beloved cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Maxine, and brother Stephen.
The family would like to thank the incredible staffs of New Hope Village, Friendship Haven, and Unity Point Hospice and requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to one of those three organizations, or to Special Olympics Iowa or St. John Lutheran Church in Carroll.
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