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Lonnie Drussell, 84

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LaVerna "Lonnie" Mary Drussell, 84, Alexandria, died February 28, 2009 at her home.

Lonnie was born on a farm in Swanville on October 23, 1924 to Paul and Mary Haas. She was welcomed into the world by her siblings, Paul, Dorthy, Elmer and Loren. When Lonnie was 2 years old, a baby sister, Helen May, joined the family. Three months after Helen May's birth, their mother passed away from complications of childbirth.

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Life for a single father of six who had to run a farm proved too difficult. Families in the Garfield and Leaf Valley area took in most of the children. Lonnie was not so lucky to stay close to her siblings and was sent to live in Wisconsin with her mother's sister. Lonnie moved in with the Jarchow family, which already had five other mouths to feed. Her early childhood years were difficult and she had minimal contact with her brothers and sisters. At the age of 10, a family in Leaf Valley offered to take Lonnie in. She went to live with the Froeming family, which consisted of William and Minnie and their three children, Elroy, Loyd and Adeline. During this time she became family with the Froemings and finally got to know her brothers and sisters. She went to school in Leaf Valley until the 8th grade.

When Lonnie was about 18, she traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to live with her older brother, Paul, who was in the Navy. While working at a Jacksonville clothing store she met her new best girlfriend, Stoney. It was Stoney who gave LaVerna her new name, "Lonnie." They moved to Miami for fun and then moved to Stoney's hometown, Detroit, Michigan.

In Detroit, Lonnie met and married Mickey Holmes. They moved to Alexandria and had two children, Holly and Greg. She and Mickey ran the Corner Bar for awhile. After a few difficult years, she divorced Mickey and opened a luncheon restaurant.

In 1952 she married Charles "Chic" Haanen and moved with Holly and Greg into a house on 1011 Elm Street in Alexandria. Chic adopted Holly and Greg into the Haanen family and in 1953 they added Rodney to the family. She worked at Olsen's Red Owl super market 20 years, where she eventually became a department manager. Chic was a member of the Alexandria Fire Department and Lonnie was involved in the ladies auxiliary. She especially liked spending the two weeks at the Firemen's Camp on Lake Latoka with her family and friends.

In 1973 she became a widow when Chic died of lung cancer at age 60. She continued to work at Red Owl and helping her children as they left home. In 1981 she became re-acquainted with an old friend, Earl Drussell, who also had lost a spouse several years earlier. They were married in November 1982 and had a bond not many people see. With the merging of the two grown families, which included Earl's sons, Clyde, John and Bill, Lonnie continued to show her kindness and commitment to keep the expanded family close. She was a very loving grandmother and great-grandmother to all the offspring of her six children. Sadly, in 1997 her soul mate Earl passed away.

She continued her years of being the very best mother to her children and grand and great-grandchildren. She loved her gardening and always had the most beautiful flowers and vegetables. Another passion she had was playing bridge with many of her close friends.

She was always healthy, up until the last few years when her heart became weak and in December of 2007 it was discovered she had myloma, a bone-type cancer. Even with the pain of the cancer and its treatment, she kept her courage and dignity and never complained. The continued cancer treatments did push the myloma into significant remission, which gave her the time and strength so she was able meet and hold her newborn great-grandson, Caleb, and great-granddaughter, Sierra, at Thanksgiving last year.

In the end though, the 84-year-old heart could not go on.

Even with her lack of a close family in her early years, she was able to show so much love and kindness to all she came in contact. We are all sad that time with our mom and friend had to end, but we are so blessed to have had the time we did with her. She is now free of pain and is with her mother, her family and with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Elmer, Loren and Paul Haas; and sister, Helen May.

She is survived by her sister, Dorthy Schultz; daughter, Holly Haanen of Alexandria; sons, Greg (Gayle) Haanen, Rodney (Mary Jane) Haanen, Clyde (Liz) Horlick, stepsons, John Drussell and Bill (Linda) Drussell; 16 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, March 6 at 11:30 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Alexandria with the Rev. David Hinz officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be at Kinkead Cemetery.

Arrangements are with Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria; www.andersonfuneral.net.

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