VIROQUA/SOLDIERS GROVE — Elsa Banta, 91, of Viroqua, formerly of Soldiers Grove passed away Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, at the Bethel Home in Viroqua.

Elsa Marie (Ericksen) Banta was born Nov. 22, 1926, in Milwaukee, died Dec. 28, 2017. Adopted in June 1927, by Dr. Hans C. and Louise (Knutson) Ericksen of Viroqua, baptized in Stanley, Wis., and confirmed May 19, 1939, in Ray, N.D.

In her second grade year, the family moved to North Dakota, returning in 1941, when Elsa attended Soldiers Grove HS and graduated in the class of 1944. She completed a two-year training in X-Ray technology at South Chicago Community Hospital, with her career as an X-Ray technician at Lakeside Hospital, Chicago, Rice Lake, Wis., and Emerson Clinic in St. Paul.

Married to Lewis R. Banta of Soldiers Grove, May 7, 1949, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at Stanley. They resided in Soldiers Grove until 1986, when they moved to Viroqua. They had two children, Susan Elizabeth and Leonard John Banta.

Elsa was choir accompanist at Our Saviors Lutheran Church, Soldiers Grove, for 43 years and served as substitute organist at Our Saviors and at various churches in the area. She held offices in the women’s organization of the church (WELCA) and Bethel Home Auxiliary. She also worked briefly as a substitute clerk at the Soldiers Grove Post Office and as a nursing assistant at Pine Grove Nursing Home and Sannes Skogdalen, Soldiers Grove.

As an avid researcher, Elsa specialized in genealogy. She wrote family histories of the Banta family in 1983, “Banta Pioneers,” and “The Altizer Branch,” the family of Lewis’ grandmother, Eunice Altizer Banta. She also wrote “The Bridge of Years,” the history and genealogy of the Ericksen family from Sondreland, Norway. Copies of these books are in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and historical libraries in the Netherlands (the Banta’s) and Norway (the Ericksen’s). She also completed a booklet on her mother’s family, “The Knutson Family of 1223 Elizabeth Avenue, Marinette, Wis.”

Elsa worked as a volunteer at the Vernon County History Museum, recording obituaries for both Crawford and Vernon Counties. The Vernon County Museum genealogy dept. has her extensive files. She did private genealogy research for clients and also researched the family of her birth mother, Alice (Morrissey) Rammer, and in doing so, located several sisters and brothers. She became especially close to sisters, Shirley Lampe and Darlene Long.

Survived by grandson, Gordon L. Banta (Sue) of Reedsburg, Wis.; nieces and nephews, James (Shelly) Ericksen and family of Stanley, Catherine (Ericksen) Jeske of Stanley, Diane Banta of Chicago Heights, Ill., David (Rene’) Banta of Morton Grove, Ill., Nancy (Chris) Ferrari of Folsom, Calif.; and several biological siblings, especially sisters, Shirley Lampe of East Troy, Wis., and Darlene (Ellsworth) Long of Tigerton, Wis. She is also survived by former daughter-in-law, Holly (Robert) Bowser of Reedsburg; three stepgrandchildren, Shawn (Vicky) Morgan of Adams, Wis., Randall Bowser and Cherie Nation; and nine stepgreat-grandchildren.

Preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Hans and Louise Ericksen; her husband, Lewis Banta; son, Leonard Banta; brother, Berthold Ericksen; sister-in-law, Jesse (Ericksen) Huberty; and brothers-in-law, Leonard Banta and his wife, Peggy; Harry (Elaine) Banta of Viroqua, and James and his wife, Sandy Banta, of Sacramento, Calif.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, at Sime Funeral Home in Readstown. Pastor Carrie Anderson will officiate and burial will be in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Soldiers Grove, at a later date. Friends may call from noon until time of services Wednesday at the funeral home.

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