Carole Lynn (Hegland) Rosencrans


image of Carole Rosencrans

Carole Rosencrans

Carole Rosencrans, 83, of Hettinger, N.D., was a beautiful, playful, witty soul who loved deeply and lived a good and caring life. She made a positive difference in the lives of her family, friends, and community. Carole lived vibrantly as a musician, poet, newspaper reporter, educator, swimmer, community anchor, sparkly troublemaker, compassionate listener, dear friend, and loyal sister, auntie, cousin, wife, mom and grandma. Unfortunately, a previously undetected brain aneurysm suddenly stopped her story and song on March 1. Carole passed away surrounded by music and family on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at Evergreen Health Medical Center, in Kirkland, WA.

Carole Lynn Hegland was born May 4, 1939, in Stanley, N.D., the third child of Martin and Gladys (Martin) Hegland. She grew up on the family homestead south of White Earth, N.D., with her older sister and brother, Alice and Allan, and her younger sister and brothers, Janice, Bob, and Jim (and all were red heads). Carole told many stories and wrote poems about life on the prairie, about playing with her sisters and brothers, Smokey the Cow Horse, music, and the blizzards of her early years, especially when she was a student in the one-room Boyd #2 (the Momb) School. Carole graduated from White Earth High School in 1957, and worked and studied her way to a bachelor’s in elementary education from Minot State Teachers College in 1964.

Carole was a lifelong learner and avid reader, and passed along her passions for learning, reading, and challenging established ideas to her children, and hopefully, to her students. Carole’s primary career was in education, and she worked as a teacher and substitute teacher across six decades. After a short, stressful stint in a rural one-room school, she started as an elementary teacher in 1960 in Sidney, MT, where she made some dear lifelong friends. She briefly taught in Bismarck before starting a family. Carole taught adult education and GED classes in Hettinger, but her longest stint in education was as a regular substitute teacher in the Hettinger Public Schools. Nearly every student over the past 30 years probably has a story about a game or a song or the banjo that Mrs. Rosencrans played in their class. Carole was proud of all her students, and delighted in seeing them grow, and start their own families, and joke and talk with her whenever she was in town.

Carole married Wilfred “Bill” Rosencrans on Dec. 27, 1964, in the White Earth Lutheran Church. The snowy blustery day allowed their friends and family to gather for their wedding, but the blizzard that night forced the newly married couple to spend the night at Carole’s parents’ house south of White Earth. Carole and Bill made their first home in Fort Yates, N.D., where Bill was the county extension agent. They moved to Fargo in 1967 so that Bill could complete a master’s degree at North Dakota State University. In 1968, they moved to Hettinger, N.D., where they raised their three children, made lifelong friends, and became involved in the community.

Over the next nearly 55 years, Carole worked in many jobs in addition to substitute teaching, such as a social worker at the nursing home, a substitute librarian at the Adams County Library, a newspaper reporter for the Adams County Record, Bismarck Tribune, and Dickinson Press, and a guardian ad litem/child advocate for the court system. Of all her jobs, being a teacher and being a reporter gave her the most satisfaction. Carole was quite proud of her work and her byline in the Adams County Record and the other newspapers. Although she went into education first, Carole had developed a passion for reporting as the editor of her high school paper and had been offered a journalism scholarship at Jamestown College. However, she was able to fulfill that dream when she was hired on as a newspaper reporter for the Record.

Carole was an active volunteer, leader, and lively member of innumerable community clubs, organizations, and activities. She was or had been very involved with Beta Sigma Phi, her Circle and Hettinger Lutheran Church, Lutheran Brotherhood, Homemakers and 4-H, the Adams County Library, the Hettinger Cowboy Band, her book club, lap swimming and water aerobics, playing cards, the buffalo project, and many other things across the decades. Carole and Bill were proud of their community, and cherished the many friends with whom they shared life’s ups and downs.

Carole also enjoyed her cats, and jokes. Sometimes these were combined. There are a few cats who now need homes, especially Junior (the invisible indoor cat—we have evidence that he exists), and the progeny and disciples of Mary Mother of God and Black Bart (the outdoor cats). We will give you a cat in exchange for a good frisky joke. Or not. The cats are free, no joke – and no joke required.

Carole supported the arts, and had been involved in art shows, community theatre, concert series, and more over the years. She especially loved music and was a multi-talented singer and musician. She played the piano, trumpet, guitar, ukelele, and banjo, and especially enjoyed playing with or accompanying her grandchildren. Carole had harbored a secret dream of one day performing in a country music band, so when she was 66, she recruited or otherwise threatened or cajoled her siblings, Janice, Jim, and Alice, to form the Hegland Family Singers. The group made their world stage debut in 2005 at the North Dakota Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival in Medora, N.D., and became nearly a regular feature most years between 2005 and 2021. The Hegland Family Singers performed at the Gospelfest in Tioga, at Sons of Norway and other gatherings, and at the nursing home and the Dakota Buttes Museum in Hettinger.

In 2019, as a strategy to avoid any potential surprise 80th birthday parties, Carole escaped to Nashville, TN, with her brother, sister, and two of her children to fulfill another one of her lifelong dreams: To sing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. That dream came true during a backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium, which was the original site of the Grand Ole Opry. As they were walking across the stage, Jim stopped at the mic, which happened to be hot, and started to sing. Carole joined him for a duet of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” – to applause. Recently, Carole was working on a soon-to-be released compilation CD of the Hegland Family Singers’ greatest cover songs, and was thrilled to have her love of music and the group featured in a story in the Adams County Record in December 2022.

Some of Carole’s favorite songs were “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton; “Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster and sung by Roy Orbison; “40 Shades of Green,” “Dream of Me,” “Little Joe the Wrangler,” “Send me the Pillow that you Dream On,” “Rose of my Heart,” “Have I told you Lately that I love you,” “Old Country Church,” “Going Down the Valley,” “Little Green Valley,” “A Beautiful Life,” and “Remember Me (when the candle lights are gleaming)”, as sung by Willie Nelson.

As much as Carole loved being at home, she also enjoyed traveling and seeing new things. Her first big adventure happened in 1962, when she convinced hometown friends Ramona Thompson and LaDonna Johnson to drive to Seattle to the World’s Fair, so that they could call their parents from atop the new, futuristic Space Needle. There were adventures with Bill that did involve actual recreational activities, such as skiing and camping, although many family trips included 4-H events, and/or pigs, and so were their own special kind of fun. However, once all the kids graduated, Carole launched a new chapter of travel that covered 20 years and many interesting destinations, including Texas, Washington, Philadelphia, England, Scotland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Arizona, and Fiji.

For the two months prior to her passing, Carole had been living in Kirkland with her daughter Kendra and family, and spending part of the time with her son Todd and family on Bainbridge Island. This was her normal snowbird routine, normally followed with some weeks in Arizona with her sister that  enabled her to escape the full snowpocalypse of winter in Hettinger, and then return ready to enjoy being at home with friends and the activities in the community she loved.  She had been thrilled to spend quality time this fall and winter with her most adventuresome daughter, Jamie, catching up on her stories of work, world travels and exciting escapades. She was always glad to have this time to see, play games with, and enjoy her grandchildren, of whom she was very, very proud.

Carole will be sorely missed, for her sparkle, her jokes, her care, her music, her dedication to keeping up with her network of friends and family, and her caramel rolls (we have the secret recipe).  She is survived by her sister Janice (Omar) Hanson of McGregor, N.D., and her brother, James “Jim” (Jan) Hegland of Tioga; her children: Kendra, Todd, and Jamie; her son-in-law, Paul Huston, and her daughter-in-law, Libby (Nelson) Rosencrans; her grandchildren: Riley, Remi, Beau, Ruari, Rafferty, and Ryder; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

She is also survived by a large, loving family of friends of a variety of ages, near and far, with whom she kept in regular communication and shared life, advice, care, work, challenges, suffering and sorrows, achievements, celebrations, and joys.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, Bill Rosencrans; her sister Alice, and her brothers Allan and Bob.

We know that Carole had no intention of leaving her friends and family so swiftly, especially as she quite enjoyed lingering and giving a long, musical goodbye, singing you to the car and waving as you drive away.

Carole was a beautiful person, and, as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, “the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Carole had known struggle, suffering, loss, and pain – that of her friends, family, and her own — especially in recent years. We are deeply thankful for her closest family, friends and neighbors, medical and other care providers, and all who mowed the lawn, moved snow, cared for cats, ran errands and helped and supported her. We loved her dearly for her compassion, and we will never forget her determination, feisty wit, wisdom, music and multiple talents, (and cats) and the many, many ways our lives were just better because of her.

Given that much of North Dakota is buried under nearly 10 feet of snow and roads have been closed, we will be holding Celebration of Life services and gatherings later, most likely in July. We will announce those at another time.

Meanwhile, we invite you to give generously in her memory to:

Adams County Community Foundation
c/o Cody Jorgenson
Dakota Western Bank
PO Box 909
Hettinger, ND 58639

Gifts can be designated to organizations; we suggest:  the Hettinger Swimming Pool, the Hettinger Cowboy Band, the Adams County Library, the Hettinger Public Schools, Dakota Buttes Museum, and West River Regional Medical Center.

Cards and correspondence can be sent to Kendra Rosencrans, 11219 NE 61st Pl, Kirkland, WA 98033 (; Todd Rosencrans, 5063 Listening Ave., Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 (, and Jamie Rosencrans, 711 Second St. NE, Hettinger, ND, 58639 (

“Remember me when the candle lights ‘re gleaming,

Remember me at the close of the long, long day

And it will be so sweet when all alone I’m dreamin’

Just to know you still remember me.”



Smokey the Cow Horse and the Raging Blizzard

By Carole Hegland Rosencrans


On top of old Smokey the cow horse

All covered with whirling soft snow,

A chilling recount of a blizzard

That happened a long time ago.

Smokey was my dad’s saddle horse.

He always had at least one.

He used him to check on the cattle

And to give the stray horses a run.

Old Smokey had his faults to be sure,

Like clamping his teeth for the bit.

Or puffing his belly when we drew up the cinch,

And taunting us on ‘til we quit.

The 1950s storm came up in a hurry

Stranding 15 students in the rural school.

Our teacher kept us warm and safe

By stoking the heater with coal used as fuel.

Dad hitched up the team to come get us,

My brother and sister and I.

But the horses wouldn’t face into the blizzard,

My dad had one thing left to try.

He threw the saddle on Smokey,

And donned his old sheepskin overcoat.

And ol’ Smokey proved more than his worth

As up to the schoolhouse they rode.

In the meantime, while our parents were worrying,

We school kids were having a ball.

To be in school when we weren’t having school

Was the biggest thrill of all!

As Dad and Smokey rode through the blizzard

Using horse sense and fence line as guide,

We were surprised when he rode to the schoolhouse door,

Saying, “Keep those children inside!”

The end of the story is a good one.

No one ventured outside in the storm.

When the wind had abated next morning,

We went home to our beds nice and warm.

12 Responses to “Carole Lynn (Hegland) Rosencrans”

  • Shari (Brock) Peterson says:

    So sorry to hear of the sudden loss of Carole. She touched so many lives while here on earth and left many memories for those her life touched. Many hugs, thoughts and prayers to all of you.

  • Myrna Schweigert says:

    We are So Very Sorry for Your Loss! This breaks our hearts! Thoughts and prayers are with you all 🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️❤️

  • Vern and Dyanne Ericy says:

    So sorry to hear of Carole. We also have some cute and funny stories we can tell later. Bill worked for us driving truck hauling silage. Jamie walked to our house in a storm. Many 4-h meetings at the Rosencrans. Oh! Vern said he’d take the outdoor cats. Haha. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  • Elke Brock says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. What a beautiful tribute for your Mom. She lived a full life making it the best she could for everyone. She’ll now bring all of this energy to her new home in Heaven. She’s not far away. Watching over each of her family and friends. God’s Blessings to each of you. Elke

  • Arlene Walch says:

    Carole was a special person with a heart of gold! The Lord needed her in Heaven for his choir ✝️

  • Sereima Nai says:

    Your Mom was one of the most beautiful people I knew, and she was a great Mom too. You have my sincerest sympathy for your loss.

  • Shana (Killough) Tyler says:

    Everyone who knew Carole is truly better for it. All my thoughts and prayers.

  • Karen Blackwood says:

    I didn’t know your mom, Jamie, but it sounds like you take after her soooo much! I’m so sorry she left you, your siblings, and the rest of the family so soon. I love the description “Sparkly troublemaker!” That says everything I needed to know to know I wished I’d known her. 🙂 Please accept my condolences and my love to all of you.

  • Martin Hegland says:

    I will truly miss her with all my heart,she was a good woman,a good wife a good parent,and a good aunt, my prayers and condolences to the family and the rest of my relatives

  • Kathy Hegland Newkirk says:

    Carole was my cousin, Our father’s were brother’s, my dad was Robert Hegland. I have many fond memories of times with Carole, as young children visiting her family on the homestead as well as wonderful reunions on the farm as adults! So fun to enjoy the Hegland family singers! Will miss Carole’s bright, witty, cheerful, thoughtful personality! Pray God’s comfort for you all at this time of loss!

  • Marla Gamble says:

    My dear cousins…I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. It is heart wrenching to have had her suddenly torn from your lives.
    I feel the loss as this whole generation of our family is leaving us. She will be missed. I, too, remember singing and family gatherings fondly.
    My prayers are with you.
    It’s Grandma Maidie’s and my husband, Jim’s birthdays today. Definitely a day of remembrance.
    Love to you all

  • Katherine Kehrli says:

    What a beautiful and loving tribute to a full and vibrant life. Her abundant spirit and talents live on in the family and friends she touched. Too soon, but gratefully, lived to the max!

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