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Lee Wotipka

Obituary

Wotipka, Lee Adolph was born on July 24, 1938 in Valpraiso, Nebraska, to Adolph and Lucille Kratochvil Wotipka. At eighty-two years of age, he joined his father, mother, brother David Wotipka, step-mother Antonia, step-brothers Donald and Dennis Dolezal, and brother-in-law Fred Ehrlich, in eternal rest on November 11, 2020 in Orono, Minnesota.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Linda, his mother-in-law, Melva Gregory, his sister, Laverne Ehrlich, his stepsister Shirley Dolezal, his brother Adolph (Diane) Wotipka, his brothers-in-law, Dana (Marie) Gregory, and Clinton Gregory, his three children, Lucy Miller, Jennette (Mitch) Bodiford, and Robin Wotipka, his step-daughter, Janell Strube, the nephews he raised as his sons, Scott Gregory, Matthew Gregory, and Jeremy Loyer, fourteen grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and many other nieces and nephews and loving friends.

He spent his life living in Nebraska, California, Idaho, Colorado, Florida, and finally settled in Orono, Minnesota. He had many professions over the course of a long life starting with the railroad, owning an insurance agency, running a painting and drywall company, being a professional job recruiter, and retiring at the age of eighty with twenty years as a public health and safety inspector with HUD REAC, where he worked throughout the United States and the U.S. territories. Lee spent three years at the University of Nebraska where he left after a tragic fire in which he saved his mother but was unable to save his grandfather. There was nothing Lee could not build with his hands. He was a master-craftsman who could fix damaged walls, create artistry in ceiling plaster, hang wallpaper and tile the most intricate designs into walls, floors, and stair risers. He taught a whole generation of sons and daughters, and another generation of grandchildren, how to wallpaper, paint, plaster, do electrical and plumbing work.

Lee’s life was dedicated to God. As a youth, he served as an altar boy. His being was infused with music. He sang tenor, often as a soloist, and sometimes in a choir. He also played the trumpet, piano, guitar, and harmonica. Lee played taps at military funerals and on television and was awarded a World War I bugle as a result. He took his harmonica everywhere.
He played with street performers in Italy and California, entertained the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, soothed fractious children, charmed animals, and loved to play for Parables at Wayzata Community Church. He talked to animals, and they seemed to understand what he said, whether it was a dog, a bird, a big cat in the zoo, or an Arabian stallion. You would often find him shopping at Costco, the man with the beret and a cane, talking to shoppers and clerks alike. He did not know a stranger, was interested in everyone, and a fierce defender of anyone whose cause he took up. Lee knew his way around the kitchen and the grill. His bacon wrapped barbecued jalapeno peppers were snatched up and his giant pearl tapioca dessert was something to fight over. He was an avid reader and photographer, and there was not a subject or a person who did not interest him. Lee was never without a dog.

He loved his wife (“Wiffle”), he loved his children, and he found great joy in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Often, he chose a hymn, “I’ve a Friend Who Meets My Every Need”, and he loved the song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

The last few months were hard for Lee as he battled many illnesses, including COVID. Even then, he kept abreast of his children and grandchildren’s lives, dispensed construction advice and his last acts were the kind and loving actions of a husband and one who loved nature, making lunch for his wife, clearing a path through the snow for his dog and a path to the birdfeeder. As the song says, “though your dreams be tossed and blown, walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone,” and we are assured that he is walking on today with the friend who meets his every need.

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John Blood

Obituary

Blood, John Christopher Age 59 of Minnetonka, MN passed away in his home on March 26th, 2020. John was full of character, known for his lively sense of humor and rousing anecdotes. Born May 2nd, 1960 in Dallas, TX, John spent his childhood at the family home in Orono, MN.

In 1982, John earned his B.A. in Business and Spanish from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. He married in 1993 and began his family in 1995. John was dedicated to his daughters, lifelong friends, and family. From a young age, he enjoyed sports, especially tennis. John pursued this passion by playing tennis in college and throughout his adult life. His charisma led to his successful career as a sales executive in furniture and systems manufacturing. John is loved by many and will be dearly missed.

We are grateful to have known and loved John. We will carry him with us in our hearts and our memories forever.

Preceded in death by his parents Mary Lou Dukeminier and Wilfred Joseph Blood, and brother Thomas Blood. Survived by his daughters Katherine and Meghan Blood; brothers Joseph (Carol) and Bryan (Tara); four nieces; one nephew; and many dear friends.

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Dagrun Howe

Obituary

Lee Howe passed peacefully at home on October 17. We miss her dearly, but know she is safe in the hands of the Lord. Dagrun Magna Elfrida Nilsdatter, the youngest of 11, was born February 7, 1931 on the Slupphaug farm in Norway to Nils Løfaldlie and Serine Slupphaug.

Dagrun’s life changed greatly at age 9 when the Nazis occupied Norway from 1940-1945. She was confirmed in 1945, this meant she was an adult and so began her working life. Aunts from America visited in 1950; they agreed to sponsor a Slupphaug in America. Dagrun said “Yes” and became Dagrun Lee, because her father was Nils Lie when in America.

After 10 days at sea on Stavangerfjord, and days of train travel, she arrived in Northfield MN to Tante Oline on Halloween 1951. She moved to Faribault MN to nanny for her Sjulstad cousin, while working nights at the Faribo Woolen Mills to finance beauty school. She learned to speak excellent English in about 3 months, self-taught from TV and conversation. Dagrun got her cosmetology license in 1956 and became a US citizen in 1957. The Sjulstads and the Howes set up Dagrun Lee with Bill Howe. It took; they were married in 1959 on Dagrun’s birthday. They lived in Minneapolis, where they both had jobs, and daughter Debbie was born late that year. In 1960 they bought a house in Brooklyn Center, where Dagrun stayed until 2019. Daughter Mona came in 1968.

Dagrun and Bill were involved in Sons of Norway and Cross of Glory church. Dagrun especially enjoyed working at Norden’s Gift shop and quilting with the church ladies. Dagrun made 14 trips to Norway to visit beloved family. Bill and Dagrun traveled many other parts of the world, especially after Bill retired in 2000 and before he passed in 2007.

Siblings Oskar, Martha, Gudrun, Ragna, Alfred, Erling, Tormod, Gunnar, Jon and Nelly are deceased. Surviving family: daughters Deborah Lumendal, Mona Schwarz (Matt), grandchildren Serina, Marina and Micah, 24 nieces and nephews and countless relatives in Norway.
Memorials to pancan.org—Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in honor of Bill and Dagrun Howe.

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Marilyn Mitchell

Obituary

Marilyn E. Mitchell, age 90, died peacefully on Thursday, Oct 29, 2020 surrounded by family.

She was born on April 12, 1930 in Two Harbors, MN, to Helia Nauha Erickson. Marilyn grew up in Baltimore and then Minneapolis, spending summers in Two Harbors helping her grandparents at the farm. She graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis (age 15) and attended the University of Minnesota earning her BA (age 20) and was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta. She paid her way through college by working at First National Bank. While a sophomore in college, Marilyn was selected as an Aquatennial Princess and part of the responsibilities included partaking in the State Fair as the “Thermometer Girl”. She also met her husband Jerry Mitchellat the University, and they were happily married for 64 years. Together they had seven children. She encouraged her kids to pursue education, think independently, and most importantly to be good people.

Marilyn was always looking to give back. She volunteered her time at HCMC for 20 years, and she supported a wide variety of community organizations, including: University of Minnesota, Wayzata Community Church, Naples Community Church, The Animal Humane Society, United Way, IOCP, and many more. She had a special spot in her heart for dogs and took in a number of strays – so much so that family fondly called her house “dog paradise”. Marilyn (along w/Jerry), also orchestrated turning the Nauha family homestead land into the Two Harbors High School, and she did a mission’s trip to Central America to help build an elementary school and bring supplies.

She was always on the go. Marilyn traveled the globe with her husband both for vacation and business, where they met many world business leaders and dignitaries. She participated in sports and was an active member of Wayzata Country Club and Royal Poinciana, where she golfed, played tennis, and loved to dance with her husband. Marilyn also attended many Gopher events and was a big fan and booster. She was especially keen on watching the athletic games of her kids and grandkids, attending hundreds.

But her happiest times were at home in Wayzata, MN – being together with the family and friends, enjoying the long summer days by the lake. She often entertained large gatherings for the 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, her favorite holiday. In the later years, she and Jerry also lived in Naples, FL, watching sunsets in the evenings (looking for the green flash) againentertaining friends and family. She created a warm, fun and supportive household. Marilyn was a loving, encouraging, successful woman, a great mom, and a wonderful wife.

She is survived by her children, Terri Veneziani (Rodrigo), Gerald Mitchell Jr. (Christy), Jean Mitchell (Steve), MarkMitchell (Michele) and Amy Mitchell (Cheri), plus many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Mitchell Sr., daughters, Susan Mitchell Frank and Barbara Mitchell Frank, mother, Helia Nauha Erickson and sister Phyllis Hastings. Special thanks to all Marilyn’s care givers over the last few years – their compassion and love is greatly appreciated.
Memorials may be directed to the Gerald Mitchell Family Scholarship Fund #5905, at Gopher Athletics, Attention: Golden Gopher Fund, 516 15th Ave SE, Suite 220, Minneapolis, MN 55455

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Jerry Larson

Obituary

Jerry F. Larson, age 83, of Waite Park, MN passed away on Friday, March 13, 2020 at his home with his family by his side. To further public safety and assist in preventing family and friends from possible exposure to COVID-19 the memorial service will be delayed until a future date. Arrangements are with Benson Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN.
Jerry was born to Franklin and Ethel (Lundahl) Larson on January 28, 1937 in Willmar, MN. He graduated from Mora High School and continued his education at St. Cloud State University, where he earned his B.S., and at Colorado State University where he earned his M.A. in Education Administration. Jerry was married to Janet Miller on March 16, 1957 at Maple Grove Evangelical United Brethren Church, Maple Grove, MN. Jerry’s work centered around education in Blomkest and Willmar, MN (teacher and principal), Sauk Rapids Jr. High, North Jr. High, and St. Cloud Apollo High School (principal). He was a long time member of First Presbyterian Church, the Exchange Club (past president), MN Association of Secondary School Principals (past president) and a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (serving on the Board of Directors). Jerry enjoyed travel, fishing, woodworking, baking, and reading.
He is survived by his wife Janet of Waite Park; children, Linda (Greg) Bauck-Todd of St. Cloud, MN and Pamela (Curt) Twedt of Oxbow, ND; daughter-in-law, Kristine Larson (Kevin Purnell) of Plymouth, MN; grandchildren, Peter (Kristin) Bauck, Bryan (Elizabeth) Bauck, Kyle Todd, Jamie Larson (Chris Scott), Jenna Larson, Emma (Stafford) Thompson, Andrew Twedt, and Jonathan Twedt; and great-grandchildren, Claire, Paige, Sophie, Theo, and Ida Bauck. He was preceded in death by his parents and son, Scott. In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred to the Apollo Connection Scholarship Fund, First Presbyterian Church, CentraCare Hospice, or the donor’s choice.

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Nancy Popp

Obituary

Popp, Nancy Margot (Burt), Nancy, 86 passed to the Lord on October 13, 2020 at Folkestone Presbyterian Homes in Wayzata, MN. She was born May 1, 1934 in Ottumwa, IA. Preceded in death by her father, Ralph W. Burt in 1952, her sister, Virginia Burt Goranson in 1968 and her mother, Marguerite Lloyd Burt in 1971. Survived by her husband, LaMar; daughter, Annette Scotti (Chris) Mendota Heights, MN; grandchildren, Danielle Scotti (Mattson) and Nicholas Scotti; great-granddaughter, Melanie (Mattson); daughter, Lisa Popp, Minneapolis, MN, Jennifer Rigdon (Kent), Swisher, IA; granddaughters, Grace and Madeline Rigdon; special nephew, Steven Goranson, White Bear, MN.

Nancy and LaMar lived in the Minneapolis area for approximately 61 years where they made their family home. Upon retirement they spent 10 plus years living part-time in The Villages, FL. They also enjoyed spending time up north at their lake home.

While in Minneapolis Nancy worked in sales management in the hospitality and travel industries. She was active in a great number of volunteer activities including community theater where she enjoyed being a participant both on and behind the stage. She continued this interest with The Villages Theater Company. Nancy majored in theater at the University of Iowa. She sang in the choir at North Lake Presbyterian Church in The Villages and was past president at PEO (Chapter EF) in Minnetonka, MN.

Nancy greatly enjoyed nature and the out of door activities, cross country skiing, sailing, golf and tennis. She centered her life on providing love and support to her family. She enjoyed playing bridge and ballroom dancing with her husband of 66 years. Her life was surrounded with many most wonderful friends.

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Rita Stevens

Obituary

Rita (Wallerius) Stevens, 83 of Wayzata passed away peacefully at home on September 18, 2020. She was born December 27, 1936 in Northeast Minneapolis. Rita graduated from St. Margaret’s Academy. She loved spending time with family on Medicine Lake, was a great cook, seamstress and an excellent piano and organ player. She also enjoyed and took great pride in working for the trust department at a local bank. Her children and grandchildren were her greatest joy in life.

Preceded in death by parents,Vincent and Dolores Wallerius, brother, Ron and sister, Therese. She has now joined her beloved daughter, Jean in heaven.

Survived by her husband, Claude, children, Julie (John) of Colorado Springs, CO, Lisa of Minneapolis and John (Heather) of Plymouth; 9 grandchildren; 3 great grandchildren with one more joining the family in October. She is loved and will be deeply missed by all her family.

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Donald McGrath

Obituary

Donald Edward McGrath of Spring Park, Minn. and formerly of Spicer and Willmar passed away peacefully June 21, 2020 of natural causes, surrounded by his extended family.

Born June 29, 1932 in Los Angeles, California, Don was a US Navy veteran, successful businessman, active community volunteer, and loving husband, father, and grandfather.
Raised in the Twin Cities, Don played varsity baseball, basketball, football, and tennis at Murray High School in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul. He graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Mines in 1954. His collegiate years included time on the Gopher basketball squad, participation in the Naval ROTC program, and faithful brotherhood in the Beta Pi chapter of Beta Theta Pi.
Thereafter serving aboard USS Talladega APA-208 through 1958, he was homeported at Naval Station Long Beach, Calif.
During this time he married his college sweetheart June Elizabeth Thorsell of St. Paul on October 20, 1956. After USN service, Don entered the business world displaying increasing talent in leading corporations toward improved profitability. Moving on from an early engagement with Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, Don realized his desire to return to Minnesota in 1964, moving to Anoka, Minn. with his growing family. His experience at the Cornelius Co. included a stint managing the Canadian division in Mississauga, Ont. from 1971 to 1973, turning around a struggling operation. Again looking to return to Minnesota, Don moved on to Tyler Corporate Industries of Benson, Minn., rising to the position of President prior to retirement in 1997.

Always active in the community, Don was affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America for the better part of six decades, from his own youth earning the Eagle Scout Award, later leading Packs and Troops, and venturing to Philmont Scout Reservation on multiple expeditions. He inspired his entire family through these years, as all became Scouts and leaders, and indeed passed on this passion to his grandchildren.
In addition to church activities over the years, Don worked with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) promoting entrepreneurship in western Minnesota during his retirement years.
An avid sailor his entire life, Don with June spent several years sailing their motor sailer The Blue Suki in the Irish Sea, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean Sea. They then moved on to touring the US in their classic 1975 GMC motorhome in the early 2000’s.
Don’s other passions included tennis, golf, and downhill skiing right into his 80’s.

He is survived by his devoted wife of more than 63 years, June, and sons Gus of Fischer, Tex., Eric of Reno, Nev., and Duncan (Rebecca) of Plymouth, Minn., and daughter Gretchen (Hendrik) Vroege of Deephaven, Minn. In addition his nine grandchildren, whom he held dearest to his heart, include Braden and Brett McGrath, Madisen and Jack McGrath, Olivia and Anna McGrath, and Hans, Lucas, and Ellen Vroege.

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Vennette Kmetz

Obituary

Kmetz, Vennette E., 92, of Minnetonka died August 14, 2020 at St. Therese at St. Odilia in Shoreview, MN.

Vennette was born to Philip and Mary (Koppes) Host in Browerville, MN on August 24, 1927. She and John Kmetz were united in marriage on May 26, 1948.
Vennette was a member of St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church. She was manager of Earl Plant Hardware and Peacock Alley in Wayzata for many years.
She was also a very creative artist. From seamstress, to painting, to cake decorating and any type of needle work. She put much care and love in each of her creations. She was also proud of the fact that she never drove a day in her life.

She is survived by children, Gordon (Susan) Kmetz, Lakeville, MN, Gary (Linda) Kmetz, Golden Valley, MN, Gloria (Mark) Jacques, Aurora, OR, Greg (Kathy) Kmetz, Minnetonka, MN, Gayle (Grant) Scherer, Lakeville, MN, Grant Kmetz, Corona, CA, Gabriel (Christie) Kmetz, The Dalles, OR; sixteen grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren and her sister, Betty Pavlak. Besides her husband, John, she is preceded in death by her parents, three brothers and seven sisters

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Reuben Palm

Obituary

Palm, Reuben Nicholas Jr. Loving Husband, Father and Friend to Many Reuben Nicholas Palm, Jr. January 21, 1928 – August 9, 2020 On August 9, 2020, Reuben Palm of Wayzata, devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend to many, passed away at the age of 92.

Reuben adored his late wife Janice of fifty years, and will be reunited with her in Heaven.
Reuben was born on January 21, 1928 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from The Blake School in 1946 and from Harvard University in 1950. He joined the family business, Palm Brothers Restaurant Equipment and Design with his brothers and then five sons, which was founded by his parents in 1910. During his successful career, Reuben was inducted into the Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2005 and served on the Boards of The Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association and Minnesota Restaurant Association.
Reuben was well respected in the community and generous with his time, serving as the Mayor of Minnetonka Beach and the President of Lafayette Club. Reuben was also a long-time member of the Breakfast Club of Minneapolis, the Kiwanis Club and the Orono School Board. In 2011, a street in Minnetonka Beach was named as “Palm Lane” in honor and recognition of Reuben and Jan’s contributions to the neighborhood and community.
Reuben enjoyed traveling but of all the places in the world, his favorite was Lake Minnetonka. He spent most all of his life living on the shores and enjoyed boating in his Windsor Craft. Watching the 4th of July fireworks light up the sky over the lake is a memory we will cherish forever. He loved spending time with each of his grandchildren. He was there for every sporting event, especially hockey games, music or dance recitals, and graduations. For years, one of his favorite things to do was to drive his sons and families to and from the airport for every trip – no matter the hour so that he could be the last one to say goodbye and the first one to greet them when they arrived back home. We will always remember his selfless giving.

Reuben was preceded in death by his father Reuben Palm Sr and mother Cora Palm, his wife Janice Palm, and his brothers John Palm and Warren Palm. He is survived by his brother Robert (Timmie) Palm, five sons and five daughters-in-law, twelve grandchildren and one great grandson: Jim (Susan) and grandchildren Greg and Molly; Tom (Maureen) and grandchildren Matt and Kelly; Mike (Shannon) and grandchildren Michael Jr, Trent, Chris, Ryan and great grandson Christopher; Rick (Kristin) and grandchildren Cora and Ella; and Mark (Pam) and grandchildren Luke and Tori. He is also survived by many wonderful friends, relatives, cousins, nieces and nephews.

We will miss Reuben; his quick wit, his keen sense of humor, and the twinkle in his eye. We will honor him in our memory every day. The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at Folkestone and Presbyterian Homes for the exceptional care and compassion they provided to our father these past five years.