Cover photo for Sara "Sally" Oja's Obituary
Sara "Sally" Oja Profile Photo
1932 Sara 2021

Sara "Sally" Oja

March 18, 1932 — July 29, 2021

Bemidji/Detroit Lakes

Sara (Sally) Vail Oja was born to parents Lawrence and Marion (Buck) Nelson, on March 18, 1932, in Little Falls, MN. When she was nine years old the family moved to Detroit Lakes, MN. She graduated from Detroit Lakes High School. She continued her education at Macalester College, graduating with a B.A. degree in Christian Education. Later, she received a B.S. degree in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Sally married George Oja on June 7, 1954, in St. Paul, MN. They had a son, Gregory, who lives in Bemidji, MN and a daughter, Mary, who lives in Darby, MT.

Sally was a member of the Detroit Lakes Congregational UCC Church where she taught Sunday School, worked with the youth, served on the Board of Education, served on the Foundation Board and was involved with women's activities.

Sally taught kindergarten and third grade in the Detroit Lakes School District for 14 years. Managing 52 kindergartners in her classroom was her specialty. We realize that no one is perfect, but we think she came pretty darn close!

For many years she served on the Detroit Lakes Library Board and on the Lake Agassiz Regional Library Board. She served on the Day Activity Center Board and was a Cub Scout leader for 3 years and a Campfire Group Leader for 10 years. In 1988, Sally was elected Alderman for the City of Detroit Lakes and served in this position for 12 years. She served on the Dollars for Scholars Board, volunteered for the Detroit Lakes Community Center, served on the Detroit Lakes Community Foundation Board, Library Board and Library Foundation Board. She was a lifetime member of Library Club and belonged to the PEO Sisterhood.

Sally is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and her brothers: James Nelson and Robert Nelson. She is survived by a son: Gregory (Beth) Oja of Bemidji, Minnesota; a daughter: Mary (Tom) Wood of Darby, Montana; two granddaughters: Sara (Justin) Bramblett and Kaisa (Jason) Syväoja; two grandsons: Tom Wood and Antton Oja; and four great grand-children : Rhaya, Maija, Koda, and Eemil.

Cards may be mailed to:

Greg Oja, 51715 - 179th Avenue, Bemidji, MN 56601

or

Mary Oja Wood, PO Box 1028, Darby, MT 59829

By her request, memorials may be sent to :

Detroit Lakes Congregational UCC Church Foundation (Please make checks payable to: DL Congregational UCC Church or DL Congregational Church Foundation.) Address: Congregational United Church of Christ PO Box 642 Detroit Lakes, MN 56502

Detroit Lakes Library Foundation (Please make checks payable to: West Central Initiative and in the memo: DL Library Fund) Address: Detroit Lakes Public Library 1000 Washington Avenue Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

Becker County Museum Building (Please make checks payable to: Becker County Museum Building) Address: Becker County Museum 714 Summit Avenue Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (Please make checks payable to: Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge) Address: Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge 35704 County Highway 26 Rochert, MN 56578

Please make a note in your correspondence that this donation is in memory of Sally Oja

MASKS will be required/provided at the visitation and service.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sara "Sally" Oja, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, October 1, 2021

4:00 - 6:00pm (Central time)

David-Donehower Funeral Home

609 US-10, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

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Prayer Service and Time of Sharing

Friday, October 1, 2021

Starts at 6:00pm (Central time)

David-Donehower Funeral Home

609 US-10, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

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Visitation

Saturday, October 2, 2021

9:00 - 10:00am (Central time)

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Memorial Service

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Starts at 10:00am (Central time)

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Visits: 14

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