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Laila Solvår Overberg (Toftner), age 75, passed away peacefully at her home in Plains with her loving husband and daughter at her side on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
Laila (pronounced, Lila) was born and raised in Norway. She and her twin brother (Helge) were born in eastern Norway in Elverum. Her parents, Gunnar (Father) and Gønner (Mother), sister (Anne-Marie) and brother lived in a small cottage by the lake, Vermundsjoen before moving to their home in the woods, referred to by the family as Honga. Laila grew up cross-country skiing as nearly all Norwegians do and was surrounded by beautiful woods, mountains, lakes and rivers of Norway for her childhood and young adult years. After graduating high school, she went on to complete additional education and training to become a teacher in Elverum. During her teacher’s education she spent a year abroad in England and studied English. Little did she know her knowledge of the English language would lead her to the love of her life, Ron Overberg.
Through her roommate in college, she became pen pals with an American, Ron Overberg, an airman with the Air Force stationed in Vietnam at the time. Ron took his leave time and traveled to Norway to meet Laila and a year later, Ron returned to Norway where they were married on July 18, 1970 at Laila’s community church, Åsnes Finnskog kirke. After the wedding, Ron and Laila moved around Europe as Ron was stationed in Germany for a few months and then the Netherlands (Utrecht) for a few years. After the Netherlands, Ron and Laila were stationed in the United States in 1974 where Ron and Laila moved to Spokane, Washington. This was Laila’s first visit to the United States, which became her new home for 48 years. Ron and Laila had their first and only child, Kristi in Washington in 1976.
The family of three moved to Bremerton, Washington in 1976. Laila began a career in banking at Kitsap Bank working her way through the ranks to Vice President and Human Resources Director. She worked 26 years for Kitsap Bank before retiring. In her free time, she taught Norwegian classes at the Sons of Norway (Oslo Lodge) and served as an active member of the Family of God Lutheran Church.
When retirement called her name 20 years ago, so did the beauty of Montana and by happenstance Ron and Laila found a little piece of heaven in Plains. Laila did not waste any time and started networking and giving back to the community shortly after her arrival to her new home through the First Lutheran Church, the Clark Fork Valley Hospital, Long-term Care facility , Little Bitterroot Services, and Plain’s Elementary School. Laila immediately connected with First Lutheran Church joining the choir, preparing the altar for Sunday services, and serving as treasurer for nearly 15 years. She enjoyed her time with her book club gals (aka “Book Ends”), hiking buddies, volunteering at the hospital gift shop , and visiting the ladies at the Long-term Care and helping them feel glamorous by doing their hair, volunteering at the school and listening to kids read, and serving as Chair and a member for the Little Bitterroot Services Board. But her true joy and delight was spent with her granddaughter, Sonja baking Norwegian goodies, sharing nature and hiking, riding bikes, taking her to the city pool in the summer, floating the river, looking at the horses at the County Fair, cheering her on at soccer games, traveling together to Norway and spring breaks, cross-country skiing and even some downhill skiing, and spoiling her as much as possible.
We are so lucky this Norwegian took a courageous path in life and left her homeland and small community to follow love and raise a family in the states. After 48 years in the states, Laila made the decision to become a U.S. citizen and successfully completed this goal in May 2022. She shared a love for two countries and found Montana represented the Norway she grew up in. She has left an impression in every community she has lived in. She spent over 52 years married to the love of her life. She enjoyed the beauty of nature, gardening, baking, reading, skiing, hiking, serving God, and helping others. She may have been quiet, reserved, petite in stature, but she had the largest heart and strongest character. These are a few words friends have used to describe Laila: genuine, kind, stoic, classy, graceful. She was loved and we were all honored to receive her love.
Laila was preceded in death by her mother Gønner and father Gunnar. Laila is survived by her husband Ron, daughter Kristi (Ben), and granddaughter Sonja, her sister Anne-Marie (Annar) Strøm and twin brother Helge (Aud) Toftner, and extended family in Norway.
In the fall of 2022, Laila was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ron and Kristi would like to extend their appreciation and gratitude to the family, friends, and neighbors in Plains, Missoula, and Norway. It takes a village, and the love, strength and support of Laila’s village has been the greatest blessing. Thank you.
Friends and family of Laila Overberg are invited to attend a service to celebrate Laila’s life at First Lutheran Church, 604 5th Ave S, Plains, MT 59859, on Wednesday, June 14 at 1pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to continue to support the ALS community by donating to the ALS Association: https://donate.als.org/fundraiser/4576471.
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