Close family members are recalling with a mix of fondness and anguish a woman who was killed along with her young sons by her ex-husband before he took his own life at a south Minneapolis home.

Joyce and Bruce Ellingson, in a paid obituary published Sunday, said of their slain daughter and grandchildren, "It is so very, very hard to move from the present tense to the past tense when talking of Kjersten, William, and Nelson. We are heartbroken."

The Ellingsons went on to describe daughter Kjersten Schladetzky as "a fiercely loyal friend, a wonderful listener, a brilliant leader, thoughtful, insightful and a rare breed of person."

Their grandsons, 11-year-old William and 8-year-old Nelson, "were all it" to the Ellingsons' 39-year-old daughter, the obituary continued. "In recent months, as the primary person in their lives, she managed to ride herd over the boys with an extra sparkle in her eye and an enthusiasm for everything they did together, nurturing each boy with open curiosity for who he was becoming."

Schladetzky and the boys were shot by 53-year-old David Schladetzky on Dec. 1 at the home in the 2700 block of Oakland Avenue S., where the couple raised the boys together until divorcing in June.

He arrived late that morning to pick up the kids as he did most Sundays, but this time with a gun. As the boys ran, he followed them into the snow-covered front yard and opened fire. He then stormed inside and shot his ex-wife and stabbed her in the chest. He later turned the pistol on himself.

Police recovered a suicide note, whose contents have not been disclosed. Police said it will be months before their investigation is complete.

Services Saturday for mom, 2 boys

Services for Kjersten Schladetzky and the boys are scheduled for Saturday at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis.

The Ellingsons recalled their daughter as "a voracious reader as a youngster, often sneaking books into class to read during the school day."

Kjersten Schladetzky worked as director of consulting for roughly the past five years for the Tessitura Network, a Dallas-based nonprofit that helps arts and culture venues with their internet technology needs.

"She adored the people she worked for and with," her parents wrote in the obituary, "and had found her calling in the work world. [Her] ambition took her to great heights without sacrificing any of the wonderful qualities that made people naturally gravitate towards her."

The grandparents, who live in northeast Minneapolis, said William was an avid reader who "loved working on jigsaw puzzles or playing board games, and would play just about anything as long as it had rules, even if he made them up himself."

At Whittier Elementary School, he was "a very involved student as a student ambassador and safety patrol member," the Ellingsons wrote.

The grandparents said young Nels was energetic and "the consummate instigator. … He loved blackout bingo and hide-and-seek (the sardine version) at Grandma and Grandpa's. He loved Grandma's oatmeal and Grandpa's secret handshake."

Saturday's services at Central Lutheran, 333 S. 12th St., Minneapolis, begin with visitation at 10 a.m., and a memorial service at 11 a.m. A reception and private interment follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to: Whittier International Elementary School, which both boys attended, or to Protect Minnesota at 285 N. Dale St., St. Paul, MN 55103, "in order to further research, education, and outreach to end gun violence," the obituary read.

No arrangements have been publicized for David Schladetzky, who had been a stay-at-home dad and PTA volunteer.