LaVerne Schaefer, 91

LaVerne Marjorie Schaefer, 91, of Cokato, died Monday, March 8, 2021, at her home in Cokato, due to Alzheimer’s Dementia.

LaVerne Marjorie Schaefer was born July 30, 1929, in Flint, MI, to Fred and Lydia (Hannu) Kelly (Kellokumpu). She was the eldest of three children in the family.

As an infant, she moved to Minnesota with her parents. She was educated in various Minnesota schools, and graduated from Litchfield High School in 1947.

After high school, LaVerne attended Hamline University, studying both biology and chemistry. It was there that she met her lifelong friend and Scrabble partner Derry Anderson – they quickly became friends over a feline dissection specimen.

LaVerne was united in marriage March 26, 1949, in Kingston, to James Lawrence Schaefer. They lived in Park Rapids for two years, where she and her husband worked the family farm. When her husband decided to pursue a veterinary degree, they moved to St. Paul, where she worked for Ancel Keys, the originator of the cholesterol theory of heart disease.

She also worked at General Mills in the Product Control Lab, doing vitamin analytical research.

After her husband’s graduation they moved to Staples and opened a veterinary clinic. They began their family by adopting two children.

Throughout their time in Staples, LaVerne was a supportive wife and mother, veterinary practice manager, church volunteer, and became an avid traveler after they both obtained their private pilots’ licenses.

LaVerne enjoyed spending her free time making wine, gardening, sewing, cooking, baking, square dancing, camping, volunteering with the local Scout troops, 4-H, and FFA.

Education was a core value for LaVerne; from homeschooling her brother when she was in her 20s, to teaching and tutoring her own children. Learning was something LaVerne saw as a lifelong opportunity.

LaVerne was an accomplished pianist whose career spanned 86 years, and she taught her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchild.

Never content to stay in one place, especially since her husband’s auto accident and career change, they began their every two to three year move in 1975.

During this time, LaVerne went back to school at the University of Minnesota to obtain her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.

Think about it: to graduate with two teenage children, a husband on the other side of the state, and to be recognized as an honor graduate, and a Sigma Phi Alpha member at the age of 49.

After LaVerne’s graduation in 1978, she enjoyed the fruits of her labor, working as a dental hygienist wherever they lived. They continued to move in and around Minnesota until the move to Arkansas in 1983.

LaVerne spent the next two and a half decades as a snowbird between Kansas, Arkansas, Brackettville, TX, and Park Rapids, working until her retirement in 1995.

Retirement certainly did not slow LaVerne down, as her travels continued whether in an RV or on a cruise. She continued to be a snowbird after the loss of her husband in 2004, and until she moved in with her daughter and her family in 2016, due to advancing Alzheimer’s Dementia.

LaVerne was very proud of her faith. Baptized and confirmed a Lutheran, she became a Methodist by marriage, and enjoyed the close-knit congregations of the Hubbard United Methodist Church, as well as the First United Methodist Church in Brackettville, TX.

LaVerne (aka “The Nana”) is survived by her daughter Katherine (Jeff) Meredith of Cokato, son Glen (Deeann) Schaefer of Park Rapids; grandchildren Isabella Schaefer of Bemidji, Lydia Meredith of Brookings, SD, Eric Meredith of Cokato, Yun-Jie Chen (Hona) of Taipei, Taiwan, and James and Mia Schaefer of Park Rapids; great-granddaughter Maisy Schaefer of Bemidji; brother Rollo Kelly of Ventura, CA; seven nieces and nephews; sister-in-law Cindy Kelly; godson Jay Anderson; best friend Derry Anderson; and her fur baby, Badger the cat.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, her brother, John; her sister-in-law Helen; and her niece, Judy.

LaVerne did not want a traditional service, especially in light of COVID-19. A celebration of LaVerne’s life will take place at a later time (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8).

LaVerne loved to travel and never completed her bucket list, but with the help of her family she will visit a few special places one last time.

Inurnment will be in Greenwood Cemetery, Park Rapids.

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