Gladys Elaine (Kangas) Hayenga was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 30, 1932 to Eino and Anna (Matta) Kangas. Her parents were born in Finland and came to the United States when they were young. Gladys went to Cady Gage School in Wayne, Michigan until her family moved to Sebeka, Minnesota. Gladys graduated from Sebeka High School in 1950, where she participated in Cheerleading. She was also a queen candidate in several festival pageants.
Gladys married James Foster in 1952 and they had two children: Barry and Kathy. The marriage ended in divorce. Gladys married Wallace (Wally) Hayenga in 1961 and they moved to Mankato, Minnesota. Gladys and Wally had three children Susan, Cary and Ann.
Gladys was very proud of her Finnish ancestry and strongly believed and lived in the Finnish culture and spirit of Sisu which focused on characteristics such as determination, tenacity, grit, resilience and hardiness. Gladys and a friend started Cherished Possessions, an estate sale business. Later, she also started a business with her sister Joyce, called Sisu Sisters.
Gladys had a strong work ethic and was always working to help provide a better life for her children. Her work history including JC Penney, Dunn & Bradstreet, Northwest Bell Telephone Company, Tupperware, the U.S. Civil Service (working for the Judge Advocate General office in Oklahoma and Arkansas), Blethen, Gage and Krause law firm and 18 years in appliance sales for Sears in Mankato (she was a top performer for many years). In Mankato she was a member of the Does with the local Elks club and was active with her church, Christ the King Lutheran Church, where she was a Treasurer and a Sunday school teacher.
After the death of her husband Wally, Gladys moved to Janesville, Wisconsin in 2005 to be near her youngest daughter Ann. She and Ann opened Modern Charm, a vintage resale store. Gladys moved back to Minnesota in 2016 and eventually lived at Beehive Homes, a memory care facility in Lakeville.
Gladys was extremely proud of her five children, her eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Again, her Finnish and Sisu culture was important to Gladys and she wanted to make sure her children and grandchildren understood the importance of this and how they could accomplish great things in life.
Gladys passed away on February 17, 2021 at Beehive Homes in Lakeville at the age of 88. She is survived by her five children and their spouses: Barry (Siobhan) Foster of Riverside, CA, Kathy (Dennis) Taylor of Spokane, WA, Susan (Steve) Mielke of Lakeville, Cary (Wendy) Hayenga of Mankato, and Ann (Dean) Erstad of Janesville WI, as well as 11 grandchildren: Megan Taylor-Krise, Ryan Taylor, Rachel Mielke, Lauren (Erstad) Karleski, Dr. Casey Foster, Leah Erstad, Alyssa (Mielke) Wilkus, Taylor Hayenga, Devin Foster, Dylan Hayenga, and Logan Erstad; along with four great-grandchildren: Gavin, Caydren, Garrett, and Emmalyn as well as her brother Carl Kangas. Gladys was preceded in death by her husband Wally, along with her father Eino, mother Anna, her sister Joyce and her brother Stanley.
A celebration of our mother’s life will be held at a later date. A special thank you to Brighton Hospice and the staff at the Beehive for the support and compassionate care of our mother.