LaVern Curtis Knoepke passed peacefully on Thursday, July 25, with his family at his side in the very house he built in 1956. He lived with his wife Betty in that house for 63 years.
LaVern was born August 15, 1928, to John and Margaret (Saxton) Knoepke in Minneapolis, Minn. He moved with his family to Fillmore County as a young boy, where he grew up in and around various locations near Preston and Wykoff.
On May 6, 1953, he married Betty Miller of Preston and entered the Army on May 13, just one week later. LaVern served his country in Korea from 1953-1955.
After his discharge from the service he worked at Jerry’s Body Shop in Preston for 23 years and then AO Smith Harvestore until his retirement in 1990. LaVern was a lifelong member and a past commander of the VFW of Preston. He was also a member of the Preston Legion as well as a charter member of the Fillmore County Flying Club. LaVern served for 27 years on the Preston Volunteer Fire Department and served his church, the Preston United Methodist, as a trustee and cemetery board member.
LaVern enjoyed helping his son-in-law with fall harvest by running equipment or helping to fix anything that needed fixing. He also loved fishing up north and flying his antique Aeronca Chief airplane. Special memories included rebuilding an airplane and a Model T car with his son Steve. LaVern was a very intuitive inventor, architect and engineer all rolled into one. He was the go-to guy whenever troubleshooting needed to be done. Preston’s very own two-headed car that greets you as you enter town was a result of his inventiveness and skill. When it came to family, he was incredibly proud of 66 years of marriage to Betty, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
LaVern is survived by wife Betty, a son, Steve (Deb) Knoepke and a daughter, Lori (Lowell) Finseth, and daughter-in-law Anne Knoepke; six grandchildren: Adam (Stefanie) Knoepke, Ben (Sara) Knoepke, Jessica (Joe) Sheridan, Justin (Matt) Finseth, Danica (Dave) Finseth, and Whitney (Gabe) Kimball; 11 great-grandchildren: Erin, Caden, Carson, and Taylor Knoepke; Lily, Ali, and Sam Knoepke; Grace and Will Sheridan; Brooks and Reid Kimball. He is also survived by two brothers, Ken (Millie) Knoepke of Rochester, and Bob Hodgson of Shoreview; and sister Karen Beenblossom of Stewartville, along with many special brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by two brothers, Darrell and Arden; his parents, two brothers-in-law and one sister-in-law.
Services for LaVern will take place at the United Methodist Church in Preston on Thursday, August 1 at 11 a.m., with visitation at the church on Wednesday, July 31, from 5-8 p.m. and also one hour prior to the service on Thursday. Burial will follow the service at at 1 p.m. at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Preston, Minn.
Memorials are suggested to the United Methodist Church in Preston. A special thank you is extended to the staff of Mayo Hospice for the care and support provided so we could keep Dad at home.