Waite Park, Minnesota
March 4, 1925 - August 29, 2013
Funeral Services will be held at 2:30 PM on Saturday, September 7th, 2013 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud for Burnell LaGrave, 88, who died Thursday at the St. Cloud Hospital. Rev. Dee Pederson will officiate. Relatives and friends may call before the service on Saturday from 12:30 PM -2:30 PM at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Arrangements have been entrusted to Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Homes in St. Cloud.
Burnell was born on March 4, 1925 in York, North Dakota to Bernt and Svanhild (Sandven) Axness. She was baptized, confirmed and married at St. Petri Lutheran Church in York, North Dakota. Burnell grew up on her parents' farm in North Dakota and as a child surely couldn't have imagined she would years later be a hip, text message and Skype savvy great-grandmother. Burnell greatly valued education: she graduated from Benson County Agricultural and Training School in 1944, and attended Good Samaritan Hospital School for Nurses where she graduated with a B.A. in Nursing in 1947. On April 16, 1950, Burnell married the love of her life, Royce LaGrave. While raising their family together, she worked as a nurse in both Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Through the years, Burnell, Royce, and their family spent a great deal of time at their beloved lake cabin in White Earth, MN, which they built by hand. When Royce passed away in 1983, Burnell's grandchildren (who affectionately call her Grandma "Nell") became the focus of her time and energy. During the course of her life, Burnell lived in Leeds, Fargo, and Grand Forks until she moved to Waite Park after the Grand Forks flood of 1997.
Burnell was a stylish, inherently positive, and generous woman. She was a skilled, avid bridge player and played at least twice a week. She also enjoyed cross-stitch and embroidery. She often gave quilts and other handmade items as gifts. She was an active person all of her life and water-skied until she was over sixty years old. Burnell had a sincere and detailed interest in her grandchildren, and traveled far and wide to visit family members. For years her nickname was I-94 Nelly due to the amount of time she spent driving from one family member's house to another. Her 100% Norwegian heritage was a source of pride, and she enjoyed teaching all how to make her specialties: lefse and potato salad. On special occasions she often shared a favorite Norwegian prayer she had learned as a young girl. An engaged citizen and community member, Burnell was member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood and Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Burnell was a very strong woman with a hilarious, quick wit. She was a wonderful role model, beautiful human being, and will be deeply missed by everyone who knew her.
Survivors include children Lon (Janet) Huffler, Germany; Cheryl (Kim) Pennington, St. Cloud; Jill (Alan) Burchill, Hudson, Wisconsin; and Barry (Corinne) Stillwater; sisters Caroline Fogelson, Devils Lake, North Dakota; and Esther (Curtis) Nordhougen, Moorhead; grandchildren Matthew Burchill, Denver, Colorado; Drew Pennington, Beloit, Wisconsin; Allison Burchill, St. Paul; Maran Reyes, Tacoma, Washington; Britt Pennington, Minneapolis; Katherine LaGrave, Boston, Massachusetts; Gwen Pennington, Madison, Wisconsin; Tyler LaGrave, St. Paul; Nathan LaGrave, Silver Springs, Maryland; and Joshua LaGrave, Stillwater; and three great-grandchildren, Sophia Burchill, Denver, Colorado; Kjell Pennington, Beloit, Wisconsin; and Miriam Reyes, Tacoma, Washington; many nieces and nephews; and many close friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband Royce; parents; siblings Evangeline Olson, Mildred Kirkeide, Lawrence Axness and Erling Axness
Memorials are preferred to LaGrave Learning Center, Grand Forks, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Cloud.