Opal Rysad, 93, passed away Monday, March 2, 2020. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 P.M. Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Clifton. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service from 1:00-2:00 P.M. at the church. Burial will follow at Clifton Cemetery.
Opal LaVerne Zuehlke was born October 15, 1926, to William Edward (Bob) and Millie Myrtle Biffle Zuehlke in her grandparent’s home near Clifton. She was baptized into the Christian faith at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Clifton. As a teenager, she confirmed those beliefs and remained a lifelong faithful worshiper, worker, and choir member.
She grew up on the family farm near Meridian and attended Meridian public schools where she graduated from high school with honors in 1945. A gifted artist, she was chosen by her classmates as the class artist, and she served as the art director for the high school annual.
She attended Draughons Business College in Fort Worth and was employed by Charlie’s Café and The Clifton Mercantile Company in Clifton prior to meeting and falling in love with Carl Milford Rystad, grandson of the legendary Reverend J.K. Rystad, pastor of the Norse community’s Our Savior’s Lutheran Church for 49 years.
Opal and Carl were married June 20, 1950, and in the ensuing few years made their home in Amarillo, Waco, Killeen, Waxahachie, and Grand Prairie. While living in Killeen, they became charter members of Grace Lutheran Church. Opal was a guest of honor at Grace when the congregation celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2005.
Along the way, Carl began a career with the Texas Employment Commission where he worked until his retirement in 1984. Two children were born to their union: Nyla Marlette and James Kenneth. Both attended school in Grand Prairie and graduated from high school there. During that time, Opal became a fulltime homemaker and mother but clung to her childhood love of art.
She was fond of recalling that whenever there was a break in chores on the farm, she would get out her watercolors and paint. She laughingly remembered that she often prayed for rain so that she could have time away from farm duties to do what she loved best.
With the children gone from home and Carl’s untimely passing shortly after his retirement, Opal renewed her passion for painting and studied under such noted artists as Darlene Cutsinger of North Little Rock, Arkansas, Lois Bender of Chicago, Linda Chang of Taiwan, and June Broker of London, England.
She was a member of the Grand Prairie Visual Art Association where she won honors as Artist Of The Month. Her art was displayed in the City Hall, at Western Days shows, and in several juried competitions across Texas where she also won numerous citations.
Her early interest in making family photos expanded to include a serious interest in professional photography. She became a member of the Arlington Camera Club where her keen eye for composition earned her numerous blue ribbons in various competitions with the pinnacle being her photo which won Best Of Show in the City Of Grand Prairie Parks And Recreation Photography Contest.
She expanded her budding interest in antiques and leveraged her artistic skills to establish antique booths in numerous venues from across the Metroplex, Hillsboro, Whitney, and Waco. She often maintained several lucrative and highly successful booths in the same facility in order to expand the breadth of her enterprise.
In truth, she loved buying antiques as much as she enjoyed displaying and selling them. She became quite an adroit, self-taught expert on antiques and knew how to take advantage of her insights into the potential resale value of items at estate and garage sales.
She pursued her antique business for as long as her health permitted and her old Ford could get her to and from her various booths as well as to the places where she always knew how to find a bargain. Finally, when a broken hip sidelined her direct involvement, she commissioned some former colleagues to carry on her business and to liquidate her massive inventory.
As her health deteriorated and she became a fulltime nursing home resident, she continued to delight in greeting visitors from her family, friends, and church. One of the highlights was the celebration of her 93rd birthday with her family last October. She passed into her new life in eternity March 2, 2020.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Bob and Millie Zuehlke, and her husband of 35 years, Carl Rystad. She is survived by her daughter, Nyla Rystad, of Grand Prairie; her son, Ken Rystad, of Lewisville; her granddaughter, Jessica Lynn Rystad, of Los Angeles, California; her sister and her husband, Barbara and Rallin Aars of DeSoto; and several nieces and nephews and their families in Texas, Minnesota, and North Carolina.
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