(7/24/12) LaVern L. Sonsalla, 83, of Arcadia, passed away on Sunday, July 22, 2012, at Mayo Clinic Health System-La Crosse surrounded by his loving family.
LaVern was born on March 14, 1929, to Jacob and Teckla (Waldera) Sonsalla in Arcadia. He graduated from Arcadia High School in 1947, where he was very active in school activities. LaVern married Phyllis Duellman on May 22, 1951, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Fountain City. He was very proud to serve with the Military Police in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1952. After his honorable discharge, LaVern furthered his education by obtaining a B.S. and later a Master's Degree in Agriculture Education from UW-River Falls. He was employed by Western Wisconsin Technical College and instructed Adult Agriculture to many students and helped over 500 farm families during his 27 year tenure with WWTC. Not only was he dedicated to his family and his home farm, LaVern had exceptional sense of community pride in Arcadia, as he felt it to be important to contribute back to where his family originated from.
LaVern was a lifetime member of Holy Family Parish, the Knights of Columbus #1654, the Tickfer-Erickson Legion Post #17 where he participated on the Military Funeral Squad, and as Legion Chaplin, the Arcadia FFA Alumni, and the WI-FFA Alumni. LaVern held offices as the WAVAI Sectional vice president from 1971-73, was past president of the St. Stanislaus Parish Council, Arcadia Catholic School Board, and Arcadia Softball League, was a past Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus, and served on the Board of Directors for Western Wisconsin Beef Producers, West Central Mutual Insurance Co., Citizens First Bank of Trempealeau, and the Trempealeau County Association of Cooperatives. Throughout his years of service to many organizations, LaVern received many awards including the Outstanding Farmer Award from the Arcadia FFA in 1970, Soil and Water Conservation Award in 1970, Outstanding Wisconsin Vocational Teacher of the Year Award in 1988, the WWTC Exceptional Service Area Farm Training Program in 1990, and was the Trempealeau County Pork Producer's Man of the Year in 1992.
LaVern's passion was his family and involvement with his home farm, but he also enjoyed pitching fast pitch softball for over 27 years, which led him to be inducted into the Wisconsin Hall of Fame of Fast Pitch in 1979. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing.
LaVern is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Phyllis; sons, Larry (Lisa), Lon (Nancy), Tom (Irene), Don (Jody), and Jeff (Patrice); daughters, Deby (Terry) Revolinski and Mary Beth Kersten; grandchildren, Eric (Toni), Stefanie, Kelly, Dana, Patrick, Hannah, Jade, Lexi, Leah, Jacob, and Natalie Sonsalla, Brandon, Jared, and Collin Revolinski, and August Kersten; great-grandchildren, Chandler and Whitney Sonsalla; and sisters Janet Peterson, Emerine (Bart) Weaver, and Lorraine (Jim) Shoemaker. In addition to his parents, Lavern was preceded in death by his brothers Ernie, Clifford, Apollinary, Clarence, Vernon "Buddy", and Leopold.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 27, 2012, at Holy Family Parish in Arcadia with Father Raj officiating. Family and friends are invited for visitation on Thursday evening from 5:30-8 p.m. where there will be a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Family Parish and also one hour prior to Mass at church on Friday. Burial with Military Rites performed by the Tickfer-Erickson Post #17 will be in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, rural Arcadia. Wozney-Killian Funeral Home, Arcadia, is assisting his family.
LaVern's family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of Mayo Clinic Health System in Arcadia and La Crosse for the exceptional care and compassion given to LaVern and his family during this difficult time.