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Vernon Arne Lawrence - Estelline: July 16, 1920 – Feb. 16, 2013

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2013

Vernon Arne Lawrence, 92, died Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at the Brookview Manor in Brookings.

Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Estelline. Burial is in Hillcrest Cemetery in Estelline. Visitation is from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Geise Funeral Home in Estelline

Vernon was born July 16, 1920, in the family home his father built on the South Dakota prairie. He was the sixth and final child born to Lewis and Gena (Hatlestad) Lawrence. Vernon attended country school, often riding his pony, Dickie, to class. He attended Estelline public schools and graduated from Estelline High School in 1938.

Vernon was a three-year varsity basketball player who was co-captain his senior year. He played drums in the school and city bands and appeared in the school play.

Vernon loved baseball and softball and was a powerful hitter. He and his dad created a diamond on a field south of the family farmhouse during the Great Depression and games were played there for years in front of crowds of fans.

In 1946, when his parents were in California on a trip, a friend advised him to attend a dance in Brookings. That Monday night dance was where Vernon met Marcella Lavin, a high-spirited young woman who captured his heart. They were married on Nov. 1, 1951. Vernon and Marcella had seven children from 1952 to 1972.

Vernon worked at various jobs in Brookings, including for SDSU, while continuing to farm. But he soon landed a job at Bibby Dairy where he became a foreman.

But the lure of the farm life was always strong. In 1966, the family moved back to the Lawrence farm, and Vernon farmed for more than 20 years, and enjoyed his return to the place of his birth, sleeping in the bedroom where he was born, and working long hours while finding time to enjoy life and time with family and neighbors.

The 1980s brought a close to farming days, as Vernon and Marcella adapted to a changing life. He and his wife spent time with Mary and Chad, and spent a lot of time seeking care for Chad, who had needs related to his autism.

They moved to Estelline in the late 1980s, and Vernon retired from farming. A few years later Marcella entered the Brookview Manor in Brookings as her health declined, and Vernon became the primary caregiver for Chad. It was a role he would fill until he was 80.

Marcella died in 1995 and Vernon later lived alone in Brookings until 2007, when he moved to the Dakota Sun Assisted Living in Volga. The residents and staff made him feel at home.

Vernon especially enjoyed a 90th birthday celebration in 2010 at the Trinity Lutheran Church. His late daughter Anita created and presented a slideshow of his life.

Vernon was a great baseball fan, especially of the Minnesota Twins, and also enjoyed following high school basketball, politics and the world around him, reading several newspapers a day and keeping a keen eye on the world.

He loved people and enjoyed talking with them over coffee, a burger at Nick’s or when they stopped by his homes over the years.

He is survived by six children: Debbie (Larry) of Lake Oswego, Ore.; Vernon (Debora) of Plainfield, Ill.; Tom of Mitchell; Julie (Anthony Mascarenhas) of Vancouver, Wash.; Mary (Kevin) of Sioux Falls; Chad of Sioux Falls; son-in-law Richard Humble; eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Marcella Lawrence, siblings, and daughter Anita Humble.

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