Hill, Lawrence “Larry” T. 78

Lawrence “Larry” T. Hill, 78, passed away on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023 at Highland Chateau in St. Paul, Minnesota. He experienced multiple strokes since October 2021 with subsequent hospitalizations and care center stays. He died of resulting complications while under hospice care at Highland Chateau.

Larry was born at the St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota on October 29, 1945 to Reino and Inga (Wuonola) Hill. He was the oldest of five children. Larry was baptized and confirmed at the Finnish Apostolic Church in rural Cokato. He attended Gunnary School followed by Annandale Public School, and graduated from Annandale High School in 1963.

Larry lived on the farm near Annandale all his life until his last couple years. Larry had a variety of jobs over his lifetime including driving a milk truck for Maple Lake creamery, doing sod work, dismantling grain bins, custom hay baling, milking cows for neighborhood farmers, working the family dairy farm, and caring for his parents in their later years. He worked for many years at Gold’N Plump Chicken in Cold Springs and part-time at Carlson’s Orchard in French Lake.

Larry enjoyed spending time with family and friends. This included attending family gatherings, auctions, garage sales, Swappers Meet, community events, visiting over the phone, and driving around to check in with friends. He was a member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in French Lake where he served as head usher until his more recent health problems.

Larry is survived by his sister, Lora (Stephen) Loch; brothers Lowell (Carol) Hill and Lester (Linnea) Hill; nephews Adam (Rachel) Loch and Alex (Bret Amundson) Loch; niece Andrea (Jeff) Dunnigan; several great nephews and great nieces; “brother”- cousin Stan Wonola, and other relatives and friends. Larry was preceded in death by his parents, Reino and Inga Hill; sister, Lois Evelyn Hill, and “sister” – cousin Sharon Fredricks.

Visitation will take place at the Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato on Monday, Nov. 13 from 4-7 PM, followed by a prayer service at 7 PM. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Nov 14 at 2 PM at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in French Lake, with visitation 1 hour prior to the service. Pastor Jerome Nikunen will be officiating. Memorials may be given to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church or the donor’s choice. Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery in French Lake Township.


Lipelt, Ralph Myron 88

Ralph Myron Lipelt, 88, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, October 29th 2023. He is now at his eternal rest in his heavenly home.

Ralph was born on December 12th, 1934 in Elgin, ND to Rudolf “Ralph” Lipelt Sr and Emma Lipelt (nee Werre). Growing up in North Dakota, he fell in love with the outdoors and spent his youthful years hunting, fishing, and trapping. He enlisted in the navy after completing his education, where he met the love of his life, Julia Alex. They soon wed and he began his life-long journey as a devoted husband to his loving wife.

Ralph built his career in earth-moving construction, becoming an expert in the field. He started his career as a surveyor, later became a foreman before finally progressing to a superintendent. He oversaw many large and complex projects and was extremely proud of his work, even though he rarely showed it due to his humility and stoic demeanor.

While on family road trips he enjoyed pointing out his projects and how they contributed to the betterment of his community.. Some of his contributions to the midwest landscape include: construction of the Bismarck Expressway Bridge, the Coal Creek Station evaporation ponds, the Hawktree Golf Club, the I-94 Interstate construction and many others.

Taking after his father, Ralph was an accomplished craftsman, he built two family homes from the ground up, the first in Columbus Mt which stands to this day, the second in Wilton ND (recently relocated to Baldwin). Upon retirement he refocused his attention to hunting, fishing and lending his skills to his local church. He also enjoyed visiting his children and lending a helpful skillful hand.

Ralph fathered seven children: Judith (Shane) Cortner, Dawn Lipelt, Ralph (Kami) Lipelt Jr (deceased), Deniece (Ernie Angwin), Grant (Nicolle) Lipelt, Kent (Harmony) Lipelt, Brent (Lisa) Lipelt.
He was a proud grandfather to 15 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren. All of whom will carry on his love, lessons and legacies well into the future.

He is survived by wife, Julia Lipelt and his siblings Cathryn Pearson and Bonnie (Lee) Jacobson.

He is preceded in death by his parents; siblings, Marion Shaw, Grant Lipelt, Phoebe Erickson, Norma ‘Mickey’ Magelky and Arlene Nissen; and his eldest son Ralph Paul Lipelt.

His family and friends are blessed to have had him in their lives and will deeply grieve his passing.

A memorial service will be held at the Albion Evangelical Free Church in Cokato, MN on November 3rd at 1:00 PM with visitation beginning at 12:00 PM. Pastor Kevin Sorensen will be officiating. Interment will be held on November 6th at 12:00 PM at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls, MN.


Oestreich, Ruth Ann Alvina 79

Ruth Ann Alvina Oestreich, 79, of Buffalo, Minnesota (formerly Howard Lake) was called to the Church Triumphant on October 22, 2023.

Ruth was born January 7, 1944 to Roy and Evelyn (née Brelje) Burau. She was baptized on January 30, 1944, confirmed on March 30, 1958, and married at St. James Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Howard Lake, MN. She married Harvey Jerome Oestreich on May 23, 1964. They were blessed with 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, and she was expecting 2 more great-grandchildren.

Ruth spent her entire career at 3M in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Much of that time involved her taking additional training and in a leadership role with the 3M Club. In addition, she helped Harv farm. Her interests included gardening, canning, sewing and fishing. She and Harv spent much time traveling, both with and without their RV. Ruth was active in St. James’ LWML, and she and Harv delivered meals on wheels. Ruth was also active in 2 different Red Hat Societies.

Ruth was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Harvey; her parents and her niece Tabitha Roepke. She is survived by her 11 siblings: Gerald, DeLloyd, Roger, Janice, Coleen, Vivian, Dale, Una, Mavis, Dean and Mary Kay; children Joanne Jarvis (Rob) and Philip Oestreich (Susan); grandchildren Hannah Seek (Tim), Sarah deVall (Luke), Samuel Oestreich; two great-grandsons, Noah and Rowan Seek; five godchildren: Dawn Christodoulou, Mark Burau, Raquel Burau, Andrea Ellingson, Jeff Roepke, and many other relatives and friends.

A Service of Christian Burial and Interment is scheduled for November 10, 2023 at 2 pm. Rev. Mark Loder of St. James Lutheran Church and Rev. Rob Jarvis will be officiating; Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home is handling the arrangements in Minnesota. Memorials may be given to either LWML at St. James, or St. James Lutheran Church.


Constenius, Betty Joan 90

Betty Joan (Kotila) Constenius passed away peacefully at Cokato Manor on October 23, 2023, after a 9-month courageous battle with both squamous cell cancer and CLL (Leukemia).

She was born to Walter Johnson & Afton (Dobbs) Johnson on June 6, 1933, in Golden Valley, MN. She lived in Golden Valley until she was two years old when her family moved to a farm north of Cokato. She started school at The Dewey School, Dist. No. 128. After first grade the family moved to Howard Lake where She graduated from Howard Lake High School in 1951. She was working at the local Farm Store when she met Earl Kotila.

Betty and Earl were married September 26, 1953, in Howard Lake, MN. Their marriage was blessed with two sons, Kenneth & Leslie. Earl passed away in 1959. Betty met & married Frank “Richard” Constenius February 8, 1961, in Emmetsburg IA and their marriage was blessed with two more sons, Garret, and Brian. Betty lived all her married life north of Cokato, moving into the Cokato Apartments after Frank’s passing in 2018 and Brookridge Assisted Living in 2021.

All but one of Betty’s jobs were in manufacturing. She worked seasonally at Green Giant in Cokato, full time as an assembler for Tonka Toys, then at CTS starting out in shipping, became APICS certified and moved to production control until she retired in 1998.

Betty enjoyed watching nature, the changing of the seasons. From the trees budding and fruit trees blooming to the vibrant fall colors. Not only watching but also listening to the large variety of birds sing as they returned to her yard in the spring through summer and into the winter with the bright red Cardinals against the white snow. In the 1970’s she spent many hours on her snowmobile enjoying the wooded areas of Northern Minnesota and the local riverbeds. Gardening, both vegetables and flowers was another enjoyment for Betty from the planting and watching them grow to the harvest. When she was not outside or working, she was either doing needle work (all kinds) or keeping the cookie jar full for her boys. If she had any spare time, she enjoyed antiquing at auctions and garage sales.
Most of all Betty enjoyed people. She loved socializing with family, friends, and neighbors. Always a smile on her face she was truly the kind of person that “never met a stranger.”

Survivors include sons Ken (Joanne) Kotila, Garret Constenius, Brian (Carol) Constenius, daughter-in-law Carolyn Kotila, eight grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren and sister Geri Horsma.

Betty is preceded in death by her parents Walter & Afton, spouses Earl and Richard, son Leslie Kotila, siblings Doris Eggersglus, Rose Erdman, and Ramond Johnson.

A visitation & gathering for friends and relatives will be from 12 pm to 2 pm on Saturday, November 4, 2023, at the Cokato Township Hall with a brief memorial service at 2 pm. Interment will be at the Cokato Finnish Cemetery at 2:45 pm.


Von Ohlen, Diane Louise 64

Diane Louise Von Ohlen, 64, of Cokato, MN, died October 22, 2023, peacefully at home.

She was born in Minneapolis, MN on December 10, 1958, to Adrienne & Gerald Brown, and was baptized as a baby. She grew up as a middle child with two older sisters and two younger brothers. Her younger years were spent in St. Louis Park, MN until they moved to Minnetonka, MN when she was 10.

During high school, Diane learned German and took a school trip to Germany in 1976. She graduated in 1977. Diane was always an ‘A’ student and continued to strive for academic excellence throughout college. She attended University of Wisconsin – Stout for 1.5 years before transferring to the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis and later going to Minneapolis Business School to become an executive secretary. She started working at a law firm while finishing school by filing paperwork and running errands. Even though she didn’t go to law school, they offered her a position when she graduated because she was so good at her job.
She worked her way up to being a paralegal, writing legal briefs and other legal documents.
Diane’s focus while working was saving enough money to buy a hobby farm so she could own a horse. She accomplished this goal and was able to put a down payment on a small ranch in Waverly, MN in early fall of 1988. She was moved in by February 1989.

On October 22, 1988 Diane met her husband, Allan Von Ohlen, during a wedding reception; she knew the bride and Al was an usher who knew the groom. They got married on May 18, 1991, at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake, MN, with the reception taking place on their ranch. Diane grew up in the Christian faith, she was raised Catholic and later confirmed as a Lutheran in 1991 before the wedding.

Diane continued working as a paralegal at a law firm — even after bearing three children. She would work from home and stop by the office every couple of weeks. In 1993 she was the original remote worker. In 1998, after her third kid started walking, she became a full-time stay-at-home mom.

Diane & Allan’s first child, Jennifer, was born January 30, 1993. Connie was born October 18, 1994, and their son, Henry, was born October 6, 1997. They all lived in Waverly, MN until moving to Cokato, MN in 2000 to a larger hobby farm with a bigger barn.

Diane was the secretary and assisted with VBS at Stockholm Lutheran Church for a few years, and continued to help with church activities when the family started attending Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in 2004. She was one of the church librarians for many years and taught 2nd grade Sunday School as well. Diane also assisted with township elections as a voting judge for a number of years.

In 2010 Diane was diagnosed with a serious heart condition that limited her abilities to do things, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying life. She continued to do limited chores and duties on the farm and in the house using about one third of her previous abilities. Diane actively helped and supported her children through school; she attended all of their extracurricular activities.

The family took a trip out west to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park in 2018. Diane had made the remark to Al while on their honeymoon in Jackson Hole, “We have to take our kids here sometime.” They were happy to have accomplished this dream.
On May 18, 2019, their eldest daughter Jenny, got married to David Niemela. Diane and Allan welcomed their first grandchild, Norah, on May 13, 2020, and their second, Amos, on February 15th 2022. Another is expected early January 2024.

In June of 2021, Diane got diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease without a cure. On the way to the U of M for her diagnosis, Diane said, “God doesn’t make mistakes, let’s go find out what I got.” Diane had been showing symptoms of things not working right. After her diagnosis, she didn’t want to go back to church. When asked why she said, “It’s just going to bring everybody down. They have all been praying and pulling for me.” She was genuinely sad for how the diagnosis would affect others. She did resume church attendance until it was too physically exhausting.

She continued to enjoy life every day by spending quality time with family and friends, despite the progression of the disease. Even when she couldn’t move around the house like she used to, she was content sitting by the window and watching the birds. Diane honestly didn’t spend any time thinking about what she was missing or can’t do. She once said, “I just think about how blessed I am and thankful for Jesus saving me. This is nothing compared to what he suffered for me. My family and friends make me overwhelmed with love. How can I possibly complain or feel sorry for myself.”

On July 29, 2023, Allan & Diane hosted a Brown family reunion with their kids, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, grand nieces, and grand nephews on the farm.

Diane was so selfless, loving & caring — very Christ-like. Whenever she was teased about some quirky mannerism or silly mistake, Diane was the first one to laugh at herself.
Diane was a cheerleader for everyone else, always excited to hear about other people’s successes and one to always put others first. Diane not only taught us how to live with her fun positive nature, she also taught us how to die while just feeling very blessed and content with life.

Diane went Home to be with the Lord on the 35th anniversary of meeting her husband, Al. They always celebrated the day they met and Al will continue to do so. She was looking into her husband’s loving, caring eyes when she left as he too was looking into her beautiful blue eyes for the last time. Diane always mentioned it was those kind eyes that made her agree to dance with Al during the reception.

Diane enjoyed spending time with family, taking care of her many pets, maintaining the hobby farm and farm animals (horses in particular), bird watching (especially cardinals), having morning coffee, going to the cabin and listening and watching for loons, being outside, antiquing with family, learning German, gardening, puzzles, reading, watching the Minnesota Vikings, scrapbooking, building her many collections, board games, and being a proud Minnesotan.

Diane is survived by her husband Allan Von Ohlen, her daughter Jenny (David) Niemela; grandchildren Norah & Amos Niemela; daughter Connie Von Ohlen; son Henry Von Ohlen; sister Eileen (Dave) DeReus; brother Mike (Margaret Pyzdrowski) Brown; brother Tony (Lisa) Brown; 15 nieces and nephews – Sarah Callahan, Beth (Johnny) Geldernick, Dan DeReus, Mary (Søren) Madsen, John Weinauer, Ted Brown, Maddy Brown, Sam (Josh) McKinney, Steph Brown, Aaron Brown (Emily Castanias), Evan Brown; eight grandnieces and nephews – Heidi, Sam, Drew, Peter Geldernick, Silas, Benjamin, Liam Madsen, Jake McKinney.

Diane is preceded by her grandparents Clarence & Ethel Brown and John & Louise Lijewski; parents Adrienne & Gerald Brown; sister Renee; Nephew (Ryan) Callahan.

Fall is Diane’s favorite season, feel free to wear cozy sweaters, flannel, or fleece (Buffalo Plaid is her favorite) in her honor during the visitation or funeral. The visitation will take place at Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Cokato, MN, Monday, Oct. 30 from 4-7 p.m. The funeral will take place Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. with an hour visitation beforehand.

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