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Vern E. Mortenson

Funeral Service for Vern E. Mortenson, 82, of Herman, will be held Monday, March 28, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church in Herman, with Rev. Jennifer Rose officiating. Visitation will be held Sunday, March 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Bethel Lutheran Church in Herman. Interment will be in Lakeside Cemetery, Herman, at a later date. The Ranney Funeral Home of Herman, is in charge of arrangements. Vern Elwood Mortenson was born on March 19, 1929 in Benson, to Palvin and Anna (Knutson) Mortenson, and passed away in the loving arms of his family on March 23, 2011. He was 82 years old.

Vern was the first child of four and big brother to Paul, Marjorie, and Dean. Vern lived through the Great Depression on a farm six miles from Benson. The family lived through the big drought and dust storms when nothing would grow. The family was self sufficient because they raised turkeys, cows, pigs, horses, chickens, sheep and bees and had an orchard and a big garden.

He attended a one-room country schoolhouse, District 16 in Swift County, in Cashel Township for eight years - located 2 miles from the farm. The children either walked to school or would ride the family bike with Vern peddling, Paul sitting on the back, and Marjorie on the handlebars.

Vern attended Benson High School in grades nine through twelve and graduated in 1947. He loved sports and also continued to play 4-H softball. In his senior year, his high school football team finished their season undefeated and unscored against even after a close call when Vern recovered a fumble on the one yard line. Vern enjoyed playing his silver clarinet in the high school band. He was active in church, Luther League, 4H and Boy Scouts. Vern worked hard on the home farm from the time he was very young because he was always big for his age and was interested in farming and mechanics.

Vern received a football scholarship to South Dakota State, Brookings, where he played football until he injured his knees. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry. His first job was as the Veterans Vocational Instructor in Wallace, S.D.

In 1952 he was drafted into the army. Vern was trained as an infantry man in Louisville, Ky. and was stationed overseas at Bad Kreuznach, Germany where he served as a lab technician for two years. While there, he was named lab technician of the month.

Vern returned home and entered college at the University of Minnesota at the St. Paul Agriculture campus. He received a degree in Agriculture Education. Vern met Ruby Johnson from Minneapolis through a blind date set up by his good friends Ove and Rita Pederson. Vern and Ruby married on March 30, 1957. To this union were born Melanie, David, Valerie, and Karen.

Vern began his teaching at Plummer, as their Vocational Agriculture Instructor for four years.

The family moved to Herman, in 1960 where Vern was the Vocational Agriculture Instructor until 1988 when he retired. During their married life Vern and Ruby and their family took many trips pulling their home-made camper all over the United States.

As an Ag teacher Vern found his passion. He loved teaching and enjoyed his students very much. He had a 12 month job as he was the Future Farmers of America advisor and ran the county fair building and the FFA snack shack and periodically visited his FFA students' farms to check their summer crops program. He also taught the Young Adult Agriculture Program. He oversaw the FFA snack shack which was open for all home HHS athletic events .

Vern was awarded an Honorary State FFA Degree in 1997, was selected Herman Hall of Fame Person of the year in 1983 and served as Herman's official tree inspector for Dutch Elm disease. He was a member of the Herman Odd Fellows and American Legion. Vern was an active member of Bethel Lutheran Church. As a volunteer driver, he drove many people to their doctor appointments all over the state.

After retirement Vern and Ruby volunteered at Holden Village on Lake Chelan Washington for nine years. While there he was the village mechanic either as a helper or as the head mechanic. He worked on all sorts of vintage (Vern's generation) broken down old machinery at the village (lack of maintenance), rebuilding and refurbishing the cement mixer, Bombardiers, trucks, buses, tractors and even the hydroelectric generator. Vern loved doing mechanic work and worked on his own cars and many other's lawn mowers and machines out of his garage. He loved to tinker and tried to do everything necessary for his own existence without hiring anything done.

Vern loved to visit with many people and didn't mind a good argument He always had a good story to tell. He loved going for morning coffee at Denny's Café during his retirement and only missed when he felt too ill to go. Vern was a recognizable figure on his golf cart, and he and Ruby enjoyed driving around most summer evenings. Vern had a very full and busy life. In his later years Vern suffered from cancer.

Vern was preceded in death by his parents Palvin and Anna, and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Vern is survived by Ruby, his wife of almost 54 years. Vern and Ruby's legacy continues through their four children; Melanie (Mark) Seamon of Coon Rapids, David (Susan Popp) of White Bear Lake, Valerie (Steve) Ahmann of Muscatine Iowa, and Karen (Nathan) Derby of Fargo North Dakota. Seven grandchildren: Sean Seamon, Kelsey (Manolo) Seamon Marin, Kaley and Jake Ahmann, Elisabeth, Madilyn, and Victoria Derby. Two Great Grand Children: Julietta and Danny Marin.

Vern is also survived by his siblings: Paul (Helen) of Benson, Marjorie (Bill) Williamson of Albuquerque, N. M., Dean (Deanna) of New London, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Donations are welcome to Bethel Lutheran Church, Herman, the American Cancer Society ( ), or Lakeland Hospice and Home Care, Fergus Falls (www.lakelandhospicehomecareorg ).

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