Irene R. Seppanen


Irene R. Seppanen, 96, died at Nelson Gables in Alexandria on January 27, 2023.

Irene was born in Spirit Lake, Iowa, on October 25, 1926, the fourth of five children of Gilbert and Lila (Petri) Schuster. During Irene’s childhood, her family moved to farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Irene attended four different high schools and graduated from Lomira High School, Wisconsin, in 1944.

Irene and Norman met as teenagers when they lived on adjacent farms in LaGrand Township west of Alexandria. They married in November 1944. Over time they acquired 260 acres where they raised wheat and beef and dairy cattle. They were early-adopters of organic farming, and sold wheat, flour, bread, and produce at their little store on the farm. They were featured in a July 1962 article in Organic Gardening called “A Run-down Farm Now Back on Top.” Part of this farm is now Country Blossom Farm.

Irene was well known for the gardening classes she taught, the produce she sold at the Alexandria Farmer’s Market, and the prizes she won at the Douglas County Fair. She became a Master Gardener in 1983, one of the first two in Douglas County. She retired from the Farmer’s Market when she turned 90. Irene said that one of the blessings of teaching classes and selling garden produce was the wonderful people she met. She was proud of raising most of the food she ate.

In 1953 Irene organized the LaGrand Busy Bees 4-H club and was involved in 4-H with her six children for thirty years. All of her children won trips to the Minnesota State Fair with demonstrations that Irene had made them practice many times. After the family’s 4-H years, she became a judge of 4-H projects at county fairs.

Norman preceded Irene in death by 20 years. A few years after his death, Irene worked with the second-year carpentry class at the Alexandria Technology College to build a new house on the part of the farm where she had lived while growing up. She lived in that house until last fall when she moved to Nelson Gables.

Irene appreciated the many visitors to the farm including international journalists, school children, and students from the technical college. She is thankful for family, friends, and neighbors who helped her stay in her own home for so many years.

Irene is survived by her six children, Marvin (Linda) of Winona, Loretta (Rick Sandler) of Olympia, Washington, Judy Davis (Rick Davis) of The Dalles, Oregon, Seth (Janene) of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Annette (Curt Nelson) of Park Rapids, and John (Anne) of Battle Creek, Michigan, eleven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter. Norman’s youngest sister Margaret Seppanen of Zephyrhills, Florida, is the only living sibling of Irene or Norman.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 27, 2023 at Berea Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Visitation will be from 4-6 pm on Friday, May 26, at Lind Family Funeral Home and the hour preceding the service at the church.

Irene’s family suggests that if you wish to make a donation in her memory, you consider one of these organizations that were important parts of her life:  Douglas County Library,  Minnesota 4-H Foundation, or  Douglas County Master Gardener Program.

Arrangements provided by Lind Family Funeral & Cremation Services,

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