JoAnne Carlson

JoAnne M. Carlson (née Nemzek), the matriarch of Big Cormorant Lake, passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 25, 2021, surrounded by her six children and their spouses. She survived a heroic battle with stage 4 lymphoma over 7 years ago - but its raging return in February proved too difficult to overcome.

One of 12 children born to John and Nora Nemzek of Moorhead, Minnesota, JoAnne “Annie” was a devoted wife, mother, and community leader. JoAnne married Duane J. Carlson on May 16, 1953. The untimely passing of her beloved husband - almost 30 years ago - left a void gradually filled with family and friends.

Duane and JoAnne were leading members of the Moorhead Blue Line Club, a group dedicated to building the foundation for one of the strongest youth hockey programs in the State of Hockey. Through their efforts, their children and friends were the first in Moorhead to play hockey in an indoor hockey rink - a thrill enjoyed by thousands of skaters to come later. Much of the Carlson family life revolved around youth hockey - a passion that continues to this day.

Having to learn to live independently after Big Dew’s passing was a daunting task, which she did with joy and determination. JoAnne learned to drive a car, pay the bills, maintain her home on Big Cormorant Lake and carry on a fruitful life with her children - and didn’t need a man to do it for her. Her favorite refrigerator magnet....“Grow your own dope....plant a man.” Her sense of humor was robust until her final breath.

She loved to entertain, play the slots, and talk smart with crowds large and small. She enjoyed hosting people at her lake home- this fostered dozens of non-family members, who affectionally called her “Mom” or “Granny.” She hosted the annual Carlson Classic, a 4th of July celebration and horseshoe tournament spanning 48 years. Even while battling cancer the celebrations continued. As years passed, the family lovingly referred to the gatherings as Granny’s last 4th of July. She was able to enjoy 8 annual “last” Carlson Classics with family and friends.

She was an active member of St. Mary of the Lakes Church where she enjoyed worshiping with many friends. She admired Father Bob LaPlante and was proud to call him a friend.

She was preceded in death by husband, Duane and 8 of her 11 siblings.

JoAnne is survived by her six children, The Honorable Jay D. Carlson, Dana (Kim) Carlson, Joel (Robin) Carlson, Kay (Duane) Melquist, DeAnn (Kevin) Pladson, all of Big Cormorant Lake, MN, and Beth (Rob) Fowler, Greenwood, MN; 9 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; special nephew, Jack Nemzek; and sisters, Margaret Bekkerus and Jackie Nelson.

Visitation will be from 3:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M., followed by the prayer service at 4:00 P.M., Sunday, March 28, 2021, at St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic Church, Detroit Lakes, MN. Visitation will continue from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 A.M., on Monday, March 29, 2021, at the church. A livestream of the prayer service at 4:00 P.M. on Sunday, and the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 A.M. on Monday, will be available on JoAnne’s webpage at where a guestbook and video tribute may also be found. Final resting place will be at St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic Church Cemetery at a later date.

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