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Lester Dave GrafstromJune 19, 1930 ~ January 16, 2018 (age 87)
Funeral services for Lester Grafstrom of Salol, MN will be held on Monday, January 22nd at 2 PM at First Lutheran Church in Salol, MN. Visitation will be on Sunday evening from 4-7 PM with a 7:00 prayer service at Helgeson Funeral Home in Roseau. Interment will be at the Spruce Cemetery at a later date. Lester passed away on January 16, 2018 at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau, MN at the age of 87 years.
Lester Dave Grafstrom was born on June 19, 1930, to Erick and Mary (Sonsteng) Grafstrom in Enstrom Township at the home of Ole and Thora (Kveen) Sonsteng. He walked to rural school in Salol, graduated from Roseau High School in 1949 and attended Augsburg College for one year. He served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954 and was stationed in Germany, earning the rank of Corporal.
Lester was united in marriage to Verna Mae Johnson at Moe Lutheran Church by Rev. Sutter on July 8, 1956. They moved to San Diego, California where he worked at Convair Airlines. After a short time in California, they moved back to Minnesota and made a home in Two Harbors and then in Ely. During this time he worked for Reserve Mining Company. In 1963, Lester and Verna returned to Salol to operate the family farm and raised fourteen children.
Lester was a lifelong member of the Salol First Lutheran Church and served on various committees and the church council. He was a school board member for the rural school in Salol. He was a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Lester was a devoted family man and his life can be summarized in three words; Faith, Family and Farming. Sundays were a day of rest on the farm. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren were a source of pride. Farming was always a welcome topic of discussion. Crop farming and dairy cows were important, but beef cattle was his first love. He also kept busy with logging, cutting firewood, the large family garden and the gravel pit.
Sports were an important part of Lester’s life. Hockey night in Canada, New York Yankees and the Chicago Bears were favorites. He would flood a backyard rink which was a source of countless hours of activity in the winter. He was willing to sharpen skates of anyone who wanted (including grinding off the picks of figure skates as hockey players couldn’t have picks). Deer hunting was a special time for Lester. One look around the family room with all the deer racks and antlers led to hours of storytelling and conversation.
Lester was quick witted, well read and always ready with a one-liner. He epitomized the word neighbor, willing to extend a helping hand in a time of need. He was a true friend, neighbor and was quick to say ‘you better come in for coffee’.
In later years, Lester looked forward to his morning coffee and conversation with his brothers Dayton and Sam. Many times this morning routine would expand to include other family members, friends and neighbors.
Lester passed away on January 16, 2018 at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau, MN at the age of 87 years. He is survived by his wife of over 61 years, Verna Mae; children, Dave (Sharon), Brian (Cheryl), Vernell (Mark) Beito, Valerie, Erick (Lisa), Verna “Tunna” (Roger) Lund, Peter (Marilyn), Matthew, Ruth (Jason) Braaten, Renae (Chuck) Hendrickson, Ramona (Neil) Novacek, Luke (Angie), Thora (Gabe) Bunke and Anna (Cody) Wittrock. Lester is survived by forty-four (44) grandchildren and eighteen (18) great-grandchildren.
Lester was preceded in death by his parents, Erick and Mary; brother-in-law Clinton Michal. He is survived by his siblings; Dayton (Mary), Myron (Char), Sam (Lola), Genevieve Michal and Virginia (Bob) Geringer.