Obituaries for June 29, 2011

2011-06-29T18:26:00Z Obituaries for June 29, 2011 La Crosse Tribune
June 29, 2011 6:26 pm

Judith K. Johnson | Hazel Elizabeth Oppegard | Loretta M. Chamberlain | Arvid L. ‘Slugs’ Lifer Jr. | James R. ‘Jim’ Herrig

Judith K. Johnson

PIGEON FALLS, Wis. — Judith Kathryn (Haugen) Johnson, 95, Pigeon Falls, went home to be with our Lord on June 24, 2011, while under the loving care of Pigeon Falls Health Care Center. She was born on Dec. 22, 1915, to Olaf and Hannah (Berge) Haugen in the town of Northfield, Jackson County. She attended school at the Holen School House near Northfield.

Judy married Lloyd Thompson early in life. She later shared her life with husband Melvin Haugen and retirement years with husband Neil Johnson. Judy was a devoted and loving wife and mother. She spent most of her life farming with Melvin, but in later years she worked at Burnstad’s Market and served lunches for the children at the Northfield School. She enthusiastically cooked, gardened and fished in her early years and baked, quilted, embroidered, read and played cards with her friends later in life. Her greatest joy was making someone else happy. She was a blessing to all whose heart she touched.

Judy has been an active and lifelong member of the Upper Pigeon Creek Lutheran Church near Northfield.

She is survived by her children, Thom Thompson, LaVonne (Clay) Bordner, Dave (Karen) Thompson, Shirley (Roger) Melby and Marvin (Eunice) Haugen; daughter-in-law Carol Haugen; stepchildren Neulen (Edith) Johnson, Laverna (Neil) Humphrey, Virginia (Harold) Jones, Duane (Joanne) Johnson and Diane (Dave) Nelson; and sister Opal Harrison. She was blessed to have 28 grandchildren, many great- and great-great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Judy was preceded in death by her son, Warren Haugen; husbands; parents Olaf and Hannah; brothers Arnold, Halvor, Ames and Ole Haugen; and sister Ruth Merrick.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 1 p.m. at Upper Pigeon Lutheran Church, Northfield. The Rev. David Christianson will be officiating. Burial will follow in Oakwood Cemetery, Merrillan. Family and friends are invited for visitation Wednesday, June 29, 2011, from 5-7 p.m. at Jensen-Modjeski Funeral Home, Hixton. Family and friends also are invited for visitation Thursday, June 30, 2011, from noon until the time of the service at the church.

Jensen-Modjeski Funeral Home of Hixton is assisting the family with arrangements.

Hazel Elizabeth Oppegard

HIXTON, Wis. — Hazel Elizabeth Oppegard, age 92, Hixton, died Monday, June 20, 2011, in Family Heritage Care Center, Black River Falls.

Hazel was born March 25, 1919, in Jackson County where she lived her whole life. Her parents were Clarence and Bessie (Downer) Knutson. Hazel grew up on a farm near Hixton. As a girl, she enjoyed school and would stay in town during the winter so she could attend Jackson High School.

On Aug. 24, 1938, Donald Oppegard and Hazel went to Winona, Minn., to be married. When they returned home that evening, they joined family and neighbors to celebrate their marriage. Hazel and Don worked the farm that has been in her family for 118 years. They adopted two children, Gaylord and Doreen. Don Oppegard died March 30, 2007.

Hazel was an excellent cook and baker. These were skills she was proud of. Her cooking, baking and caring fed many people. Her recipes for oatmeal pancakes and dinner rolls were featured in the book “Homegrown Culture” as a part of celebrating Wisconsin’s sesquicentennial. Her recipes originally were in the Shady Glen Sewing Club cookbook.

Homegrown and homemade — this was a way of life for Hazel. A resourceful woman, some of Hazel’s many skills included gardening, sewing, canning, baking, milking cows and feeding calves. She made loaves and loaves of bread and strawberry, blackberry or tomato jam to spread on a slice. Living through the Great Depression made her careful with her money. She enjoyed the good things of life — fresh strawberries from the garden, a laugh with a grandchild, a visit with friends and sitting down with a good book.

Hazel has called her room at Parkside Assisted Living her home since September 2001.

She was a lifelong member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and had been active in the church’s women’s groups. She also was a member of the Sewing Club all of her adult life.

Survivors include her son, Gaylord (Pat) Oppegard of Hixton; son-in-law Timothy Gronski of Hixton; grandchildren Joseph (Kim Lively-Duffy) Duffy of Placentia, Calif., Kathleen (David O-Donnell) Oppegard of Madison, Laura Oppegard of Madison and Timothy (Amanda) Gronski, Jr. of Colby; and great-grandchildren, Bjorn, Faith, Alex, Josie and Nathan.

In addition to her husband, Don, Hazel was preceded in death by her daughter, Doreen Gronski; great-grandchild Finnigan; and brother Donald “Tobe” Knutson.

Funeral services for Hazel Elizabeth Oppegard were held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 24, 2011, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and burial was in Trinity Rest Cemetery, both in Hixton. Pastor John Kaplinski officiated.

Family and friends were invited for visitation from 9-11 a.m. on Friday at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

The family prefers memorials be given to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Hixton.

The Buswell Funeral Home, Black River Falls, assisted the family with arrangements.

The family would like to thank the staff at Parkside Assisted Living and the Family Heritage Care Center for their kindness.

Loretta M. Chamberlain

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Loretta Marjorie Chamberlain, age 75, Black River Falls, died peacefully with her family at her side on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, at her home in the town of Brockway, Jackson County, while under the care of her family, friends and Black River Memorial Hospice.

She was born on Feb. 10, 1936, in Black River Falls. She graduated from Black River Falls High School in 1954. She attended CNA training and schooling.

Loretta married Edward Chamberlain on Oct. 18, 1954. Although the couple later divorced, they continued to remain good friends.

Loretta was a wonderful mother, daughter, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and friend. She was a very hard worker and taught her children valuable life lessons. She was a member of the Pine Hill Church of Christ.

She worked as a nanny, farmer, logger and as a factory worker. She also cooked at the former G’s Cafe, Spud’s and Club 12. Being a certified nursing assistant was the job she was most proud of doing.

Loretta enjoyed the outdoors, traveling, coffee time visits, her dogs and spending time with her family and friends.

Surviving are her four children, Ed (Kathy) Chamberlain, Robert (Hope) Chamberlain and Peggy (Art) Fulton, all of Black River Falls, and Penny (Rick) Halvorson, Alma Center; 11 grandchildren, Wendy, Scott (Mert), Angela, Amy (Corey) and Andrea Chamberlain, Lori (Mark) Gooden, Kelly (Wade) Nieman, Lucas Halvorson, April (Adam) Berg and Gwen and Jan Fulton; 19 great-grandchildren, Zayta and Kami Thundercloud, Dominic and Nicolas Gooden, Xander, John and Christian Chamberlain, Joey Butterfield, Alison Krahn, Emily and Elise Zimbauer, Hannah, Alyssa, Mason and Victoria Berg, Zach Halvorson and Ryan, Zach and Caden Fulton; and two sisters, Linda (Les) Rhoades, Black River Falls, and Joanne Garder, Colona, Ill. She also will be missed by many friends, especially her good friend Snookie Dickie.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Violet and Everett Hale; and her sister, Bonnie.

Memorial funeral services for Loretta M. Chamberlain were at 11 a.m. Monday, June 27, 2011, at the Pine Hill Church of Christ, W10385 Poquette Road. Tim Thompson conducted services. Relatives and friends called at the church on Monday from 10 a.m. until the time of services.

Memorials may be given to either the Pine Hill Church of Christ or to the Black River Memorial Hospice.

Torgerson’s Funeral Service of Black River Falls assisted the family with arrangements.

Arvid L. ‘Slugs’ Lifer Jr.

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis./MARSHALTOWN, Iowa — Arvid L. “Slugs” Lifer Jr., age 70, Black River Falls, and formerly of Marshaltown, Iowa, died Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Mayo Clinic Health System, La Crosse.

 He was born in Black River Falls on April 17, 1941, to Arvid L. and Phyllis (Dolesy) Lifer Sr. He was raised in the Hixton area of Jackson County, and he attended schools in Hixton and Black River Falls.

He married Sharon Moore in Marshaltown on July 16, 1960. The couple later were divorced.

He was employed as a sheetmetal worker in Denver, and he worked at Leeson Electric in Black River Falls. He delivered meals-on-wheels and loved to visit with the elderly.

Arvid loved to ride his Harley and snowmobiles. He enjoyed stock car racing, repairing small engines and tinkering. He enjoyed raising and training dogs and going bow hunting.

Surviving are his son, Scott (Nanci) Lifer of Eden, Utah; two daughters, Lori (James) Erickson of Olathe, Kan., and Lisa (Christopher) Murphy of Ft. Collins, Colo.; his life partner of 21 years, Bonnie Avanzato; his mother, Phyllis Relyea of Black River Falls; one sister, Linda (Timothy) Lifer-Hurley of Albertville, Minn.; a half sister, Tamara Relyea, and a half brother, Rick Relyea, both of Black River Falls; a niece, Kellie Peterson of Kewaskum; a stepdaughter, Shonda Avanzato of Granton; and 10 grandchildren.

 He was preceded in death by his father and a brother, Richard Lifer.

A celebration of life for Arvid L. “Slugs” Lifer will be held at a later date.

Torgerson’s Funeral Service of Black River Falls is assisting the family with arrangements.

Memorials may be sent to the family c/o Lori A. Erickson 13622 So. Sycamore St., Olathe, KS  66062.

James R. ‘Jim’ Herrig

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — James R. “Jim” Herrig, age 72, Black River Falls, died Friday morning, June 24, 2011, in his home in the town of Albion, Jackson County, while under the care of Black River Memorial Hospice.

James Richard Herrig was born Aug. 18, 1938, in Chicago to John and Charlotte Herrig. He was raised in Chicago and spent most of his life in the Chicago area. He moved to the Black River Falls area in November 2008.

He served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was employed as a security guard at Stanley Smith Security of Chicago and also as a driver by GNT Limo Service of McHenry, Ill. He later owned and operated Prestige Limo Service of McHenry.

Jim enjoyed fishing, going out to eat, watching eagles, watching war movies and reading war books. He was a member of the Black River Falls United Methodist Church.

Survivors include his significant other, Jackie Hagen of Black River Falls; a daughter, Michelle (Craig) Smith of Salem, Ore.; two sons, Richard (Tracy Hermann) Herrig of Elmwood Park, Ill., and Randy Herrig of Naples, Fla.; two grandchildren, Hannah and Tim; and other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Ronald Herrig.

Memorial services, followed by military honors, were held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, 2011, at the Black River Falls United Methodist Church. Pastor Kathleen Jury officiated.

Family and friends were invited for visitation from 5-7 p.m. on Sunday at the Black River Falls United Methodist Church.

The Buswell Funeral Home, Black River Falls, assisted the family with arrangements.

Online condolences are available at

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