LaVonne Sletten, 88, of Montevideo passed away Sunday, December 27, 2020 at Luther Haven Nursing Home. Private family services will be held on Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wing-Bain Funeral Home in Montevideo. The link to watch the service will be available on the Wing-Bain Funeral Home website on LaVonne’s page. LaVonne Elaine Sletten was born July 28, 1932 in Minneapolis. She was taken care of the first months of her life by Lutheran Social Services, and then her biological mother’s parents, but eventually it got to be too much for the grandparents to handle. Wally joked that if his wife had as much pep and energy as a child as she did when they were married, he understands older people not being able to care for her. She was returned to Lutheran Social Services for a short time before Oscar and Helen Nygaard adopted her at 14 months old. She lived in Wegdahl until age 15 1/2. Then they moved up the hill to the Nygaard farm. Saron Lutheran was where she was baptized and confirmed. LaVonne was in the Wegdahl Willing Workers 4-H club and took piano lessons which she didn’t always like! She graduated from Montevideo High School in 1950 where she was involved in band and pep band playing the clarinet, ushers club, journalism club, mixed chorus, glee club, octet, and trio and played the piano for the groups as well. She loved music and also journalism. After graduation she attended school in Aberdeen. She had already met Wally in high school and they got married at Saron on March 28, 1951. They lived in the ‘little blue house’ in Pierpont, S.D. and later moved back to the Nygaard farm for 10 years. Having five children within six years, they later moved a quarter mile down the road and remained there until 2018. Dementia, combined with rheumatoid arthritis, made it too difficult for Wally to continue caring for her by himself so she lived in the nursing home. She helped with farming and milking cows in the early years plus being knee-deep in kids. ‘Mrs. Sears’ is what some jokingly called her. When the kids were older, she worked at Bode’s Gambles a short time followed by being a newspaper writer five years at the Montevideo American News, two years at the Clerk of Court and another two years at Minnwest Bank. Then she was hired by the City of Montevideo Police Department which was appropriate since she usually sped into town to work and could “bank” the curves. She was the first secretary, as well as being the first female employee in that department. She also did part-time dispatching for the Fire Department and a Matron for 16 years. The job had all male employees so she became “the udder mudder” to several of the “boys in blue”. She needed a birth certificate for that job which she was unable to find. Her mom found her adoption papers and they provided a small amount of information about her birth mother. Eventually the adoption papers led to the birth certificate. Since she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis she began to wonder about other medical problems. In talking to a police officer, who went to Minneapolis often, she wondered if he would give her mother a call the next time he went down. He did, the woman was apprehensive of course, but after getting the name and address of LaVonne she said she would write. After six weeks she wrote many times and eventually agreed on a time to meet. Most surprising to LaVonne was that she was named Doris Jean at the time of her birth. Wally would joke that he was married to two women at the same time. She also learned she had a half brother. None of this information was shared with her adoptive parents because she did not want them to feel that she didn’t love them or appreciate them nor hurt them in any way. She always felt wanted and always felt chosen. Activities that she was involved in were numerous. She was involved in ladies aid as well as being an officer, organist, junior choir director, choir, bible study leader, Luther League advisor even chaperoning kids attending the national convention, Sunday school teacher and superintendent. As well as being a 4-H member earlier, she was a leader of the same club for many years and also a judge at the fair. Wally sang for several occasions so she was his accompanist. She helped with Habitat for Humanity, was a VFW Auxiliary member, sang in the Sweet Adelines as well as being on the Countryside Nursing Advisory board. Together they were named Farm Family of the Year as well as celebrating over 60 years of marriage. They also were FFA workers and were the senior king and queen of Fiesta. She worked at the State Fair in the coliseum for many years and then would travel to craft shows with Wally and sell the silk screened boards. As an Eastern Star member, she held many offices including matron, a grand page, and was the organist and secretary for many years. She was also a member of the Chit Chat Homemakers club. Her love of children led her and Wally to be foster parents on two separate times for teenage girls as well as hosting several girls in Up With People two separate times. She also was a mentor, volunteered in school, and later became a Foster Grandma for several years at Ramsey. Dolls were fun for her to collect and she loved dogs. She was very excited to have grandkids. She bought a camper and convinced Wally to drive to camp at Kandiyohi and also bring the grandkids to Okoboji camping. Of course Wally was overjoyed. She also loved to travel and convinced him to join her on many bus trips, etc. The Swensson Farm and Historical Society were a big part of her volunteer work also. She worked at Christmas in the Village, Heritage Week, the Horse Power event and was on the Board. She was interviewed for “Death of a Dream” documentary about Minnesota farmhouses and was named a Steward of the Society for years of service and commitment and was installed into the Hall of Fame. Usually with a smile on her face, she was very patient, optimistic, and rarely complained. She liked the saying of “with the increasing number of people in the world, each of us must take a little less and give a lot more”. Another favorite says “people may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”. LaVonne passed away on Sunday, December 27, 2020 at the age of 88. She is survived by Odell (Susan) of Maple Grove, David (Dawn) of Milan, daughter-in-law Cheryl of Montevideo, Heidi (David) Lipps of Montevideo, and Timothy (Terry) of Huron, S.D. In addition she has nine grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; eight step-great-grandchildren; and extended family and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband Wally, son Terry, half brother, and parents.
Posted online on January 06, 2021