Stories about LaVerne Johnson have appeared in this column before. That’s because this Fargo woman was known for her remarkable personality, faith and talents.
She died several years ago. But notes about her continue to come in, both from her family and friends.
Her daughter Vicki Gunness, who with her husband Dick split their time between Green Valley, Ariz., and their family lake home on Lake Ida in Minnesota, after seeing a Neighbors column about her mother, sent in more memories of her.
As reported here earlier, LaVerne, who grew up in the Audubon, Minn., area, loved music. “I remember her telling us over the years how as a young girl she longed to entertain,” Vicki writes.
“She and Dad sang duets in the old Osterdalen Church for years when they were first married.
“I remember that as we drove down the old country dirt road to our destination church, out by Harwood and Argusville, N.D., they would sing their hearts out to the old hymns, like ‘Whispering Hope’, ‘Beyond the Sunset,’ etc.
“Dick and I recall that when talking about her desire to be a soloist, Mom told a story of how she finally confiscated an old guitar and sang her heart out on the song ‘Hand Me Down My Walking Cane’ at the farm.
“She remembered she once was flying around the kitchen strumming and swinging, not knowing someone was at the back kitchen door watching and listening, and she wanted to go through the floor.
“This was,” her daughter says, “a poor farm girl during the Depression, with hand-me-down clothes, dreaming her dreams of a glorious life of fame and fortune.”
Well, Laverne never gained a fortune, but she certainly gained famed in the Fargo-Moorhead-Audubon region as a singer and as a really nice person.
As evidence of what kind of people she and her husband Floyd were, consider this email from Greg Crowley, Bloomington, Minn.
“I grew up in Fargo on the near northside in the ‘70s,” Greg writes.
“My family were members of Pontoppidan Lutheran Church. That’s where LaVerne and Floyd were members.
“I remember how friendly and gracious they were.
“We would get invited to their house during Advent for some Advent tea and baked goods.
“She had a beautiful display on a table in her living room of a miniature village decked out with lights and Christmas decorations.
“She treated us like we were family.”
Greg also writes about Vicki’s husband Dick, who ran Dick’s Standard station on Broadway in Fargo.
“I remember asking Dick to sponsor our Roger Maris Small Fry baseball team. Of course, he said yes.
“Fargo,” Greg says, “was a great place to grow up!”
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