LaVonne Janet Johnson, daughter of Harold Rognlie and Opal (Dokken) Rognlie was born December 28, 1939 and entered her heavenly home March 23, 2023 surrounded by her 3 daughters.
Our mom was born and raised in Roseau, Minnesota where she graduated from High School in 1957. True to her life of service, LaVonne graduated from Swedish Nursing School in 1960 and spent many years as a Registered Nurse, working at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. She used her nursing degree as a camp nurse volunteering at Cathedral of the Pines (Mount Olivet Lutheran Church) in Lutsen, MN and at Lake Trails Camp on Oak Island, MN.
Mom married Walter Appelbaum in 1961 and had us 3 girls. Growing up, our mom led by example. She was energetic, organized and involved in many of our activities, all while working as a nurse. Our younger years were enriched by multiple church and community activities, a gift from our mom’s hard work and desire to expose us to religion, culture and service. While we know our mom loved us and was proud of us, her love and pride extended deeply to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her heart lit up hearing about her family’s activities and accomplishments. In her eyes, her grandchildren and great grandchildren could do no wrong.
She married her high school classmate, Thomas “Neal” Johnson on June 19, 1982 and they moved back to Roseau, MN. They owned a cabin on Flag Island on Lake of the Woods where they spent almost 40 summers enjoying time with their daughters, grandchildren, friends and fishing for walleye. Upon retirement, they purchased a home in Green Valley, AZ where they spent their winters.
While in Green Valley, she found her spiritual home at Dessert Hills Lutheran Church. Here she served The Lord, touching lives in countless ways. Her passion was Social Concerns Ministry, acting as a disciple for migrants, the homeless, the hungry, the sick and the poor. The bumper sticker on her car, “Until all are fed”, is a true reflection of our mom’s deep commitment to help those in need. Mom brought her love of her Scandinavian ancestry to the church in the way of an annual Lutefisk dinner. What started as a small social dinner, turned into a well-known, very large social gathering.
Mom’s passion to serve others extended to Border Community Alliance. It all began with her love for sewing, making beautiful girls pillowcase dresses. This blossomed into teaching women in Mexico how to sew. She worked tirelessly to support those who needed resources of any type, on both sides of the border. Many others were called to serve through our mom’s recruiting efforts.
Our mom will always be remembered as a deeply spiritual woman who shared her time, talents and treasures with a heart full of love and compassion. She will be deeply missed by her family, friends and community.
Mom was preceded in death by her parents, husband Neal and granddaughter Claire. She is survived by her daughters Beth Bakken, Michele (Tom) Kenyon, and Nicole Thurman; sisters Linda Rognlie, Cindy (Eric) Nordin, and Julie Sidley; brother Ron (Sharon) Rognlie; grandchildren Jackie, Brittany, Tanner, Kelsey, Courtney and Andrew; great grandchildren Asher, Harlow, Grayson, Sawyer, Arlo and Kemper.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in our mom’s honor to your local food bank; Border Community Alliance - PO Box 1863, Tubac AZ 85646; or Luther Seminary Scholarship for Seminaries- 2481 Como Ave, St. Paul MN 55108 (check payable to: Herbert Chilstrom Scholarship Fund).
A Memorial Service will be held on May 22, 2023 at 2:00 pm at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Ave S, Minneapolis MN
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