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Louise Sowder LaBonte

Louise Sowder LaBonte, 80, of Park Rapids, formerly of Menahga, died Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids.

She was born on Sept. 8, 1928 to Clint and Lydia (Ashby) Sowder in Verndale. She attended school in Verndale graduating from Verndale High School with the class of 1946. She and her twin sister Lucile went on to attend Normal School for teachers in Staples for one year before beginning a teaching career that spanned more than 35 years. They took their first teaching jobs at the same small two-room school house. She continued her schooling, taking summer classes and attending night school at Bemidji State College, eventually earning her Bachelor of Science degree.

She married Jack LaBonte on June 10, 1948 at Calvary Methodist Church in Minneapolis. They lived in Medford, Thief River Falls and St. Cloud. She taught elementary classes, mostly third grade, in Medford, Thief River Falls and Rockville. In 1981 she and her husband retired to 1st Crow Wing Lake near Park Rapids, where they lived for the next 18 years. They moved to SummerField Place in Park Rapids and later moved to Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids after her husband's death.

She was a member of Hubbard United Methodist Church where she was active in the choir for many years. She belonged to the Retired Teachers Association and the William Larson American Legion Auxiliary in Bertha. She and her twin sister developed Parkinson's disease and organized a Parkinson's support group in Wadena.

She is survived by two sisters: Lucile Lieder, of Park Rapids, and Marge (Harold) Goepferd, of Bertha; a sister-in-law, Edith (Dale) Pike, of Park Rapids; a brother-in-law, Leonard, of Park Rapids; as well as many nieces, nephews and other relatives.

She was preceded in death by her husband in 2002; a brother-in-law, John Lieder; and a sister-in-law, Hazel.

Casket bearers: Wayne Goepferd, Allen, Philip and Tim Tramm, Arden and Edward LaBonte, and Sam and Donald Pike.

Honorary casket bearers: All of her family and friends.

Funeral service: 1 p.m. Monday, April 27 at Hubbard United Methodist Church in Hubbard, with Rev. Gary Walpole officiating.

Visitation: 4-7 p.m. Sunday, April 26 at Jones-Pearson Funeral Home in Park Rapids.

Interment: Greenlawn Cemetery in Verndale.

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