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Orlando "Sonny" Stephen Erickson

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Orlando "Sonny" Stephen Erickson, 69, of Leonard, died Monday, Jan. 12, 2009, at North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Faith Bible Chapel Clover in Leonard with the Rev. Kent Dudley officiating. A visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Cease Family Funeral Home of Bagley and one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial will be in Sinclair Township Cemetery in Leonard.

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Pallbearers will be Alan Rahko, Art Rahko, Andy Rahko, John Moberg, Bryan Kerby, Eric Markgraf and John Watts.

He was born March 7, 1939, to Alfred and Sylvia (Kerkvold) Erickson in St. Hilaire, Minn. The family lived in Hazel, Minn., and Plummer, Minn., where he attended school. When he was 10 years old, the family moved to the Leonard area and he attended Pine Grove Country School. In 1956, he worked in Montana with his uncle, Ole Erickson, doing various jobs. He graduated in 1957 from Clearbrook High School and continued to work in Montana until December 1961 when he was inducted into the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in December 1963. He moved to Grand Forks, N.D., where he built his prized possession, his Volkswagen dune buggy. He then drove up to Alaska to work for 10 months.

In 1969, he returned to the farm in Leonard. He married Anita Louise Spaulding in November 1970. In 1971, his father signed the dairy farm over to him and he continued to farm for 36 years.

He served on various boards, including the American Dairy Association, Associated Milk Producers Inc., Soil and Water Conservation District, Sinclair Township Board and Faith Bible Chapel of Clover Board. He received the Clearwater King Agassiz award in 1975 and was named Clearwater County Honored Dairyman in 1979.

He is survived by his wife; children, Stephanie (Doug) Tinquist, Jeremy Erickson, Ryan (Kim) Erickson and Nicole (Aaron) Newsom; eight grandchildren; and siblings, Elaine Erickson, Allen (LaVon) Erickson, Edward Erickson, Irene (Ted) DeVries and Fran (Joe) Greenwood.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a niece and a nephew.

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