Cover photo for Carmen Dawn Madson's Obituary
Carmen Dawn Madson Profile Photo
1949 Carmen 2021

Carmen Dawn Madson

June 2, 1949 — October 11, 2021

Carmen Dawn Madson, 72, of Mason City, died on Monday, October 11, 2021 at MercyOne Medical Center – North Iowa.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, October 15, 2021 at 10 a.m., at St. James Lutheran Church, 1148 4th Street SE, with Pastor Sid Bohls officiating.

A visitation will be held on Thursday, October 14, 2021 from 5-7 p.m., at Major Erickson Funeral Home, 111 North Pennsylvania.

Memorials may be directed to the family of Carmen Madson, or a charity of your choice.

Carmen was born in Mason City, IA on June 2, 1949 to parents Gilmer and Doris Holstad. She grew up in rural Kensett, IA and graduated from Northwood-Kensett High School in 1967. Carmen attended Luther College in Decorah, IA briefly before going to work at Manly State Bank. She was a bookkeeper for the Chicago and North Western Railroad Employees’ Credit Union for many years. Her skills in organization and math were key to a successful 24-year career as Registrar at Mason City High School. She was often recognized by many people around town, even after her retirement in 2011.

She grew up on a typical Iowa family farm doing what all kids who lived on farms in the 1950s did. It was a carefree life, riding bikes, playing house in empty corncribs, jumping in tall piles of leaves, climbing massive snowbanks, or playing fox and geese. Evening chores were part of the expectations, and she was delighted when declared old enough to drive the tractor to bale hay.

From an early age, Carmen showed her love of music by learning piano. She shared her musical gifts in many ways, playing the organ at Elk Creek Lutheran Church in rural Kensett and for more than 40 years at St. James Lutheran Church in Mason City. Carmen could often be heard playing piano at her home, practicing the hymns she was going to play that weekend, always endeavoring to do her best. At Christmas, she loved listening to and performing Christmas carols. ‘Joy to the World’ was her favorite, and she said she “pounded it out” with Christmas spirit.

Carmen’s 46-year membership at St. James Lutheran Church gave her an outlet for her deep faith, and allowed her to serve others as well as the Lord. She volunteered her time and cooked for funerals and fellowship gatherings throughout the years.

Blessed with an inquisitive mind, Carmen enjoyed assembling jigsaw puzzles and solving daily Sudoku games (even the difficult, gold-level ones). She was a voracious reader of all types of books, and often finished novels in a couple days only to immediately start another. Carmen loved all card games, board games, and games of chance, and her competitive streak always made besting her a challenge.

As a “from scratch” cook and baker, she was unmatched in many ways. Carmen specialized in decorated sugar cookies and homemade brownies with award-worthy stovetop chocolate frosting. She was a superb lefse maker, and her family viewed her as the supplier of their favorite Special K bars. She cherished making large family meals, and her Thanksgiving turkey was anticipated by everyone, including her! A lover of sweets, Carmen usually called “dibs” on large frosting flowers on birthday cakes – her sweet tooth was legendary.

Carmen loved to laugh, and greatly enjoyed spending time with her card group, former co-workers, and her dear friends Sherry and Jerry Weiland. Carmen and her late husband Larry traveled throughout the United States visiting family and friends. She and Larry had a 50-year marriage, and they took a lot of pleasure in eating out and generously treating others.

Carmen is survived by her daughter, Dana (Joe) Hettinger of Hawthorn Woods, IL; her son, Chris (Angie McNamara) Madson of Mankato, MN; and her grandson, Nick Madson and his girlfriend Liz Loveall of Mankato, MN. Other survivors include her sister, Ardis (Eli) Cox of Austin, TX; her brother-in-law, Gene (Bobbe) Madson of Clear Lake, IA; four nephews, Kory, Kelly, Marcus, and Andrew, and many other extended family members and friends.

She is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Larry; her parents, Gilmer and Doris Holstad; her parents-in-law, Victor Madson and Dorothy Madson and Larry’s step-father, Donovan Haxton; as well as numerous aunts and uncles.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Carmen Dawn Madson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, October 14, 2021

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

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