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Lorna Ann (Shirk) Montzka, age 84 of Buffalo, Minnesota, passed away on October 16, 2022.

She was born on September 13, 1938 in Albert Lea, Minnesota; the daughter of Merle and Geneva (Hanson) Shirk.

Lorna grew up on the Shirk family farm and in the nearby town of Bricelyn, MN, graduating from high school there in 1956.  She attended Mankato State University, where she earned a Bachelors degree in Home Economics and Science Education. Soon after, she continued her studies by completing a Master’s degree at Colorado State College in Greeley.

In 1959 Lorna began her career as an educator in Kimball, MN where she met fellow high school teacher Carl Montzka.  They were joined in marriage in Bricelyn, MN in 1960. Their teaching careers continued together in Kimball before taking them to Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD, Blue Earth, MN and Detroit Lakes, MN. In 1967, they returned to Blue Earth and made it their home for the next 20 years.

In December 1967, Lorna sustained life-threatening injuries in a devastating auto accident while returning home from work, and it would leave her with serious physical challenges for the rest of her life. But after many months of hospitalization and grueling physical therapy, her determination and perseverance enabled her to walk again and return to many of the activities she loved most.

After recovering, Lorna left teaching to focus on her family at first, but she soon found new ways to continue serving as an educator and contributor to the community.  She began to share her knowledge and love of sewing, knitting and Scandinavian needlepoint first with family and friends, and then in community education classes.  A person of strong faith throughout her life, Lorna remained very active in the United Methodist Church and would eventually serve in several leadership roles.

Lorna also devoted her leadership and communications skills to community programs. She served on both the local Human Services board and the Region 9 Development Commission, with much of her work centered on improving the lives of those in need around her. She also chaired the Blue Earth Public Library Board that was responsible for the design, relocation and construction of a new library which continues to serve Faribault County capably almost 50 years after its completion.

Eventually Lorna returned to teaching professionally after she and Carl moved in 1987 to Buffalo MN, where she taught Adult Living Skills for special needs students at Wright Technical Center part-time before retiring in 1995.  After Carl’s retirement from school administration in 1998, the couple spent winters in Mesa, AZ where they were blessed with new friendships and new chances to serve others. Lorna helped organize an online card crafting group which became so close-knit that they traveled from around the US and Canada to meet in person on several occasions in Mesa. She also shared her self-taught computer literacy by organizing and leading computer crafts and iPad groups to help her fellow Leisure World senior residents use technology more easily in their daily lives.

Lorna found joy in other activities outside of service to her community. She loved both reading and writing, and spent much of her later years immersed both in countless books and in correspondence and conversation with friends and loved ones.  She and Carl together enjoyed spoiling their granddaughter June and beloved chihuahua Ginger, and rooting for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. Lorna lived her life with relentless determination infused with a humor and grace that made her an inspiration to others, and a source of joy to those closest to her.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Merle and Geneva Shirk.

Lorna is survived by her husband, Carl; son, Jeff; granddaughter, June; sisters, Kathy Keever and Karen (Jim) Hoffman; aunt, Julienne Tesarek; nephews, Mark and Michael Johnson, Chris and Ben Hoffman; Niece, Julie (Mark) Sahr; and many other relatives and friends.

Memorial service will be held Saturday, November 5, 2022 at 2:00 PM at Buffalo United Methodist Church.  Visitation will be held one hour prior to services at the church.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to The Peterson Chapel of Buffalo. Online condolences for the family may be directed to

14 Guestbook Entries

  1. Knut Kjenslie

    Lorna was an amazing woman and an inspiration to us all. I was fortunate to be invited into her home to stay with the family for a few weeks, as a distant relative coming to this country from Norway. This was over 50 years ago. She made me feel like I was part of the family then and that has stayed with me and my family all my life.
    Thank you Lorna. May you rest in God’s Peace.
    Knut & Ingrid Kjenslie/Family

  2. Karen Wenzel

    Lorna, my dear friend since 1968! You were recuperating from your accident. You were a walking Miracle, your Dad was so proud of you. He would say, yes that’s my girl, she’s a fighter!! But that did not inhibit from being a wonderful wife, a terrific Mother and a good friend to me( and Sieg). We had such wonderful times in the 70’s camping up in the Rocky Mountains building the Wenzel house. Was it Whist we were hooked on playing? Then one year when you came out,Knute and his friends came up and camped with us! Our friendship moved Lon to our Annual Christmas weekends. It was a time for the kids to bond and for we adults to enjoy some really good food! Lorna, the year you had a chef from Vietnam make the meal was a wonderful treat and surprise. The Montzka, Eckles, and Wenzel CHRISTMAS weekends were magical! So I could go on and on with memories but I sure do not want to bore anyone!
    I just want to share about our special Wednesdays when Carl went golfing. We wanted to name it and the only thing we came up with Wacky Wednesday with L&K! We did discuss a whole lot of subjects and stuff. It was a very special time for both of us. Thank you Carl for giving us an opportunity to be together alone! So it goes on and on and on! You were such a witty joy in all of our lives! I am going to soooo miss you this Fall. You were my rudder in some of my health issues. I will miss you! You were there when I needed to talk out different issues! I will miss you! Lorna, Rest In Peace!
    Karen Wenzel

  3. Christopher James Hoffman

    Lorna was my Aunt and she was such a strong woman. Brilliant in mind and a talented graphic artist. Lorna and her husband Carl perfectly matched integrity, grit, and a love for education. I will miss kissing her head whenever I was over to see them. She was an inspiration to everyone and a true Norwegian with spirit and spunk. She was loved by many and will be remembered in ways we will never fully realize. She’s finally able to walk again!

  4. Bev & John Miller

    Carl & family, we are sorry to hear of Lorna´s passing. So many happy memories of her. We were fortunate to have been in her company for several events during the many years together in LW. Blessings to you during these difficult times.
    Bev & John Miller

  5. Marty Sawyer

    So sorry to learn of Lorna’s passing, Now she is whole and just her perky self. She was a very special lady. Hugs, Marty Sawyer

  6. Liv Vitols

    Greetings from your Norwegian family
    We were saddened to hear of the passing of Lorna.
    Our thoughts and prayers go the family and loved ones.
    We cherish the memories – both of Lorna and Carl’s visits to Norway – and our visit to them at Birch Lake and their home.
    With loving greetings
    Liv, Michael, Camilla, Øyvin, Olena, Agnes Marie og little Michael Grimnes/Vitols

  7. Larry & Sonja Anderson

    Lorna was a treasure, and we were blessed to know her and call her a friend

  8. Karen (Ristau) Mau

    I was saddened to read about Lorna’s passing…she was such a sweet lady with a good heart…prayers and comfort to the Montzka family for your loss. Heaven gained another angel…

  9. Karen (Ristau) Mau

    I was so sorry to see Lorna’s obituary in the Faribault County Register…she was such a sweet lady. Prayers and thoughts for the Montka family. Heaven gained another 😇 angel!

  10. Audrey Ann Brod

    The greatest friend you could ever pray for, she will be missed on earth but a fantastic blessing in Heaven

  11. Betty Livengood

    Carl: So very sorry to hear of Lorna’s passing. My condolences to the family.

  12. Colleen Chilson

    Dear Lorna,
    It was my privilege to team teach with you several years at Wright Technical High School. You were a wonderful teacher partner and so good with the kids, an inspiration to all of us. I admired your can-do, positive outlook. God bless you, Carl and your family.
    With fondness and love,
    Sally Moen

  13. Colleen Chilson

    Lorna we will miss you, you were such an inspiration and shining light to all that met you.

    Carl, our hearts are broken that you have lost the love of your life, and we know that no words can take away the pain. May you be comforted knowing that Lorna is resting in the arms of angels, and those that passed before her. We wish you courage and strength to endure.

    Our deepest sympathies.

    With love from Liz and Pete
    Liz Ackerman

  14. Sue Schwen Johnson

    Carl, we just learned of Lorna’s passing away. She was a dear friend of mom’s (Marvel Schwen) and holds such a special place in her heart. I always remember, too, visiting with you both at Salem when we were home for a visit or holiday. She will always be remembered as a very special person and friend. Our sympathies and prayers are with you, as you grieve, as well as celebrate her amazing life.
    Sue Schwen Johnson


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