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Obituaries from the week of March 12, 2014

LaVern Holm, 88
Sharon Leibel-Johnson, 77
William "Bill" Litfin, 67
Norman Schnieder, 74
Jerome Woitaszewski, 75

LaVern Holm, 88

LaVern E. Holm age 88 of Tracy, MN died Thursday, March 6, 2014 at the Prairie View Senior Living in Tracy, MN.  Services were held 11:00 a.m. Monday, March 10, 2014 at Lake Sarah Lutheran Church in Garvin, MN. Interment followed in the Betheny Cemetery, rural Garvin.  The Almlie Funeral Home of Tracy handled the arrangements.  Online condolences may be placed at

LaVern E. Holm was born December 17, 1925 in Tracy, MN to Victor and Agnes (Jacobson) Holm.  He attended Country School District #91 and graduated from Tracy High School in 1943.  He was baptized and confirmed at Betheny Lutheran Church near Lake Sarah, south of Garvin, MN.  LaVern lived on a farm south of Garvin, where he farmed and worked construction, belonging to Labor Union #132.  

  LaVern and Verona Smerling were united in marriage on June 11, 1950 at Bethany Lutheran Church. They were married 63 years.  Faith was at the center of LaVern’s life.  He was a dedicated lifelong member of Bethany and Lake Sara Lutheran churches and served the church in many roles.  On the church board he served as Treasurer.   He was Sexton of Betheny Cemetery and an Usher for many years.  The couple moved to Tracy in 1987.

  LaVern enjoyed deer hunting up north in Littlefork, MN for over 70 years.  He and Verona enjoyed dancing and traveling and he also took a trip to Sweden with his cousin, Truman Lindval in 2002.  Also among his hobbies was ice fishing, watching the Minnesota Twins and Vikings on TV, and traveling with his son , Steven.  He enjoyed morning coffee with his friends and spending time with his family. He attended his 70th Class Reunion.  LaVern had a zest for life and living.

  LaVern belonged to the Garvin Coop Creamery Board and Elevator Board and served on the Garvin Centennial Committee in 1986 and 2011. He also belonged to the Tracy Lions Club, Wheels across the Prairie Museum was on  bowling and horse shoe teams and a member of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.  He was a Historian, and was in the Men’s Bible Group at Tracy Lutheran Church.

  LaVern died at Prairie View Senior Living on March 6, 2014 at the age of 88.

  He is survived by his wife, Verona Holm of Tracy, MN; two daughters; Nancy Hinz of Tracy, MN and Barb (Terry) Johnson of  Long Lake, MN; one son, Steve (Nancy) Holm of Marshall, MN; 3 grandchildren, Kelli (Craig) Lange, Andria (Brent) Hulke and Holly (Jeff) Caple; 6 great grandchildren, Larady and Cody Lange, Hannah and Reid Hulke, Grace and Ian Caple; nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.

  He was welcomed into Heaven by his parents, brother Wally and sister, Altivene Schons.


Sharon Leibel-Johnson, 77

Sharon Ann (Hahn) Leibel-Johnson, 77, passed away peacefully March 3rd, 2014 after a long and courageous 8 year battle with pulmonary hypertension disease.

She was born to Joseph and Margaret (Welsh) Hahn January 18th, 1937 in Tracy, MN.  She was baptized and confirmed at St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Tracy.  Sharon attended grade school, Dist. 13 in Amiret, MN and graduated from Tracy High School in 1955.  She moved to Minneapolis after high school and was employed as a secretary at various companies including Bell Telephone and Honeywell.  Sharon was the Miss East Minneapolis Aquatennial Queen in 1957.

While working at Hiawatha Rubber Company, she met William “Bill” Leibel and they married Feb. 4th 1961.  Together they lived in Minneapolis and had two children, Michael and David.  In 1971, they moved from Maple Grove to Isanti where they lived on a hobby farm.  Sharon worked as an administrative secretary for many years in the Cambridge-Isanti School District.  In 1978, she and Bill purchased the Montgomery Ward Catalog Agency in Cambridge and Sharon managed its operation.  In 1983, Sharon began her career with the U.S. Postal Service at the Minneapolis Main facility.  She was promoted numerous times during her career including being appointed Postmaster at the Braham, MN office from 1993-1994.  After the sudden death of her husband Bill in 1996, she assumed the role of President at Design Engineering and Manufacturing Company located in Braham, a company that Bill co-founded in 1986.  She returned to the USPS and retired as Director and Human Resources Specialist at the St. Paul Main office in 1999.

In 2000, Sharon reconnected with a high school friend LeRoy “Roy” Johnson and they were married Jan. 25th, 2003.  Sharon and Roy enjoyed their retirement traveling with their RV to many places in the West and South West United States as well as taking an Alaskan Cruise in 2005.  When they were not traveling, she enjoyed the rural life with Roy on the farm until May 2013 when they moved into a twin home that they purchased in the city of Isanti.

Throughout her life, Sharon had a passionate love for music.  She started playing the piano when she was 5 years old.  She accompanied for the men’s chorus during high school and she had won numerous awards while participating in musical competitions before and after her graduation.  Later in her life, she continued to enjoy music whether it was playing, singing, or listening at home or at church.

Sharon also had a deep love for her family, especially her grandchildren.  She would treasure the moments during the holidays when all of them could spend time together.  She will be dearly missed by her family and friends.

Sharon was preceded in death by her parents Joseph and Margaret, her brother Neal Hahn, and her first husband William Leibel.  She is survived by her husband LeRoy Johnson of Isanti; son Michael Leibel of Isanti, David (Kendra) Leibel of Cambridge, step son Robert (Tammy) Johnson of North Carolina, sister Sheila (Walt) Nelson of Monticello, grand-children Nathan, Vincent, Jack, William, Maria, Kayla, and Anna; step-grandchildren living in North Carolina Brianna, Bethany, Grayson, and step-great grandson James, and many other relatives and friends.   Sharon’s family expresses sincere appreciation and gratitude to the personnel at Prairie Senior Cottages, Isanti, MN for their kind and compassionate care in her final days of life. 

Mass of Christian Burial was held March 10th, 2014 at Christ the King Catholic Church.  Interment will be in Christ The King Catholic Cemetery.  Online condolences at  Arrangements were with the Carlson-Lillemoen Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Cambridge.


William “Bill” Litfin, 67

A Celebration of Life Service for William “Bill” Litfin, age 67 of Windom, was held at 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 9, 2014,  at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Windom with Father Russell Scepaniak officiating.  Burial will take place in the Walnut Grove Cemetery at a later date.

William “Bill” Litfin passed away on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at his home in Windom.

Bill was born to the late Jack and Dorothy (Beel) Litfin on August 28, 1946, in Tracy, MN.  He was baptized on March 28, 1948 at The First Methodist Church in Walnut Grove, MN.  Billy attended Walnut Grove Elementary School and graduated from Walnut Grove High School in 1965.  You always knew if a person was from Walnut as they called him ‘Billy.’  Bill received a certificate from Duluth Area Technical Institute in 1967 for baking and worked in this occupation in the Minneapolis area.

After a call to duty in the U.S. Army, Bill returned to Walnut Grove and ran a bakery/restaurant while working part-time as a Walnut Grove police officer.  Bill was then hired full-time by the city of Walnut Grove as the Chief of Police.

While living in Walnut Grove, Bill was an active member of the First Methodist Church and the American Legion Club.  From an early age, Bill enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping.

In 1980, he married Cindy and they moved to Windom where he was a Deputy Sheriff and Chief Deputy of Cottonwood County.  During this time, Bill and Cindy raised three children, Amy, Allison, and Neil.  He often said that being a dad was the most important job he had and his kids never went a day without hearing him say, “I love you.”

With a total of 33 years in law enforcement, Bill retired in 2003.  Upon his retirement, Bill enjoyed taking his kids and their friends out to the hunting cabin in the Rocky Mountains near Fort Collins, Colorado.  Roughing it in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains was his idea of a real vacation.  He loved to be around nature and the quiet mountain trails.

Later Bill re-entered the workforce and baked biscuits at Hardee’s.  His most recent job experience was working for Windom Public Schools as a paraprofessional.  At school he supervised lunch shifts and assisted students in academic classes.  The students whom he met and talked with will always remember him as a person willing to help with anything.

Bill is survived by his wife, Cindy, and their three children, Amy (Kenny) of Hastings, Allison of Windom and Neil of Windom.  Survivors also include a granddaughter, Eden Joy Zamzow, his brothers, Jack of Walnut Grove and Owen (Karen) of Laguna Hills, CA, sister, Nancy (Craig) of Clifton, VA, 12 nieces and nephews and many extended family members and friends.  In addition, Bill is survived by 25 fosters sons and daughters from Cottonwood County.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents.

Condolences can be sent online to:

Funeral arrangements are under the care of the LaCanne Family Funeral Service in Windom.


Norman Schnieder, 74

Norman Francis Schnieder age 74 of Tracy passed away Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was Saturday, March 8 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tracy.  Burial was in Calvary Catholic Cemetery.  Online condolences may be sent at  Stephens Funeral Service - Tracy Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Norman Francis Schnieder was born on March 27, 1939, in Tyler, MN, to Francis and Augusta (Fehring) Schnieder.  He was the 5th of 10 children.  Norman attended school in Walnut Grove, MN.  After high school Norm entered the Navy where he began his work with airplanes.  When he left the Navy in 1963, Norman went on to get his A & P (Airframe and Powerplant) Certificate from Thief River Falls.  Norm worked with airplane maintenance for over 50 years. 

On June 27, 1964, in Mankato, MN, Norman married Gail Donahue of Baudette, MN.  They lived in Walnut Grove, Thief River Falls, and Milroy before making their home in Tracy, MN.  When Norman wasn’t busy soaking up history, or learning about aviation and WWII fighters, he enjoyed spending time with his family, or, even better, combining all three pastimes.  Norman was involved with the American Legion and Knights of Columbus. 

Norman is survived by his wife Gail of Tracy; daughter Marge (Wayne) Jensen of Rogers, son Patrick (Lisa) Schnieder of Owings, MD, daughter Sarah (Mike) Maciej of Rogers, and daughter Jill (Lon) Dopp of Cottonwood; 8 grandchildren; Cory and Aric Jensen, Sean, Kyle and Katelyn Maciej, Jocelyn, Lauren and Conner Dopp; sisters Jeanette Bitker of Milroy and Mary Miller of Brooklyn Park; and brothers Michael Schnieder of Bloomington and John (Georgia) Schnieder of Eden Prairie. 

Norman was preceded in death by his parents, Francis and Augusta, sisters, Alvera and Wanda, brothers, Dennis, Everett and Donald, nephews Jim Bitker and Eric Schnieder, brothers-in-law Raymond Schulte, Merlyn Bitker and Russell Miller.


Jerome Woitaszewski, 75

Jerome L. Woitaszewski age 75 of Tracy, MN died Thursday, March 6, 2014 at the Prairie View Senior Living in Tracy, MN.  Services were held 11:00 AM Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at Tracy United Methodist Church in Tracy.   Interment was in the Tracy City Cemetery in Tracy.  The Almlie Funeral Home of Balaton is handed the arrangements.  Online condolences may be placed at

Jerome Lee Woitaszewski was born March 30, 1938  in Loup City, NE to Frank and Katherine (Roy) Woitaszewski.   Jerry attended several country schools in the area, Milroy, Walnut Grove and Tracy, MN.  He only attended school through the 11th grade when he was needed on the family farm.

He met his wife Marie Price in the fall of 1959 and was married on February 25, 1960 in the Presbyterian Church parsonage in Tracy.  He worked  for several farmers throughout his life, when he quit school he began working for Sander Ludeman, north of Tracy for several years and then started working for John Visker, northeast of Tracy, before working for Ralph Surprenant, southwest of Tracy for about ten years.  He began working for the 7up Bottling Company loading and unloading trucks and other various jobs there, when the company closed he did various different jobs around Tracy working for Bob Deming, John and Jeff Meyer and working for Steve Schreier in the fall doing field work.  

He enjoyed taking long car rides in the country, even though his kids slept the whole time, watching TV, bird watching, and playing cards.  His biggest joy in life was the time spent with his wife and his children and with all of his grandkids.  

He is lovingly remembered by his wife, Marie Woitaszewski of Tracy, MN; eight children, Jim (Debbie) of Webster SD, David (fiance‘, Jeanine) of Currie MN, Julie (Steve) Holm of Tracy MN, Terry of Willmar MN, Dawn Moss (fiance‘, Jason) of Luverne MN, Steve of Sheyboygan WI, Brenda (Kevin) Hayne of Arana Hills, Australia, and Sherry of Brookings SD; seven grandkids, Philip, Aimee, Tyler, Tristan, Remi, Kadie, and Jenny; five step-grandkids, Darcy (Chad) Hoff, Dean, Jamey (fiance‘, Tasha), and Cody Moss; five step-great grandkids, Dylan, Marshal, and Logan Hoff, Natalia, Aiden, and Stanleigh Moss; sister, Mae Jensen of Rochester, MN and several nieces and nephews.  

His parents, Frank and Katherine, son-in-law, Brad Moss, sister, Lorraine, brothers, Dan (Cornie) and Delphine (Irene), brother-in-law, Hap Jensen and nephew, Mark Woitaszewski preceded in death.