Cover photo for Lavon Marilyn Ford's Obituary
Lavon Marilyn Ford Profile Photo
1929 Lavon 2022

Lavon Marilyn Ford

February 9, 1929 — August 12, 2022

LaVon Marilyn Kuehl Ford was born on February 9, 1929 to Johnnie and Frances Kuehl. On August 12, 2022, she passed away peacefully after blessing her family and community with 93 years of life. 

LaVon grew up south of Glyndon, Minnesota and attended kindergarten to twelfth grades there. The story and life of Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired her early on. She knew at a young age that she wanted to be a teacher. She even substitute taught during her senior year of high school after the school principal asked her to do so. She went to Moorhead Teacher’s College for two years, graduating in 1949 with a signed contract to teach third grade in Hawley, Minnesota. 

A first date with a young Hawley native farmer Henry “Hank” Ford included a ride on the county fair’s Ferris wheel, which then led to a six-year courtship. They married on June 18, 1950. Per the rules at the time, she had to give up her teaching career. She was now a full-time farmer’s wife, attending chickens, washing milkers, and cooking for the farmhands. Their farm included dairy cows and an assortment of crops. They eventually farmed the Ford family’s homestead with the help of a special nephew, Gary Knutson.

She was known for her cooking and baking, always setting extra plates including one for a most frequent guest, her father-in-law Sidney “Sid” Ford. At harvest time, you would find her driving old grain trucks, hoping the brakes would work. They did, most of the time. The teaching rules still allowed married women to substitute teach. She took nearly every opportunity to teach for Hawley, even as she became a mother of five children. Her family started with Charles “Chuck” (1951), then Larry (1952), then Kathryn “Kathy” (1955), then Lori (1958), and finally Patricia “Patty” (1961). They were also foster parents to Dianne (Mack) Sanden with her brother David Mack spending many weekends on the farm. Plus, a few other young long-term guests along the way. 

Times were changing and during one of her many substitute teaching assignments, the superintendent told her there would be a full-time kindergarten position opening, but she would need a full four year’s Bachelor of Science degree if she wanted that job. She immediately returned to college, even attending some classes with her eldest son’s new wife, Sally (Lunder). Together, they studied mathematics one summer in the cab of the grain truck between hauls. Her eldest daughter Kathy was handy with the typewriter, so she helped LaVon type up her essays, which in turn got her out of dishwashing duty. With LaVon’s determination and drive to teach, and a little help from the family, she secured her four-year Bachelor of Science from Moorhead State University. She then led Hawley’s kindergarten program through three generations of students. She also taught a newly offered Title I program that offered extra help for kids who needed it. With a career that began in 1950 and ended in 1994, all her students were a part of her life forever. She remembered them all into her 90s, each individual name, each unique personality. 

In 1992, when LaVon and Hank officially retired from farming, they built a home in town, moving off the Ford homestead that was just north of Hawley. She continued to teach full time for two more years, retiring at 65, but then substitute taught for another 10 years, re-retiring at age 75. Even in re-retirement, she never stopped learning and teaching, becoming an active member of the Hawley Study Club. She remained in their home in town until 2015, then moved into the Hartford Apartments where she enjoyed her new neighbors just a door or floor away and her clear view of the Hawley water tower. Her final move was in 2021 to the Linden at Eventide. 

Throughout her life, she was an active member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and later Hawley Lutheran, lending the gentle vibrato heights of her soprano voice to both congregations. Throughout her life, she was also often asked to sing at wedding celebrations in addition to rooms full of kindergarten children. 

Her passions were teaching young children, farming, and raising her own children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She loved to learn, read, spend time with her friends and family, travel, and cook. Moreover, she loved her husband as much as he loved and adored her. “I’ll cook all the Walleye you catch, but don’t think I’ll clean them.” And that was just a small part of their life partnership that found a freezer full of masterly fileted walleye by Hank and an electric griddle dedicated to perfectly frying fish. The years saw them hold hands as if they were still on their first Ferris wheel ride date – going round and round and round, never wanting the ride to stop.

She is survived by her daughters Kathy (Dave) Meissner, Lori (Roger) Mjones, and Patty (Dean) Haugen, along with foster daughter Dianne Sanden; grandchildren Chad (Rehan) Ford, Amy (Jon) DuBois, Shawn (Christie) Ford, Heather (Aaron) Brockman; Trisha (Chad) Rux, Eric (Beckie) Meissner, Heidi (Jacob) Allam, Mathew (Quincey) Mjones, Nicholas (James) Mjones, and Emily (Alex) Beckius. Bryce Haugen, Paul (Ashley) Haugen, Andrea (Cooper) Wilson; great grandchildren Gabrielle and Charles DuBois, Kane Ford, Hallie and Hudson Brockman, Kaitlyn, Abigail and Hayden Rux, Addalyn and Josiah Meissner, Olivia Allam, Jameson Messmer, Knoxx and Sloane Mjones, Henry and Elijah Haugen, and Chase Wilson. For them, she was the matriarch that guided her family with the light of love and warmth of a heart that got bigger with each new addition to the family.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Hank (2005), and her two sons, Chuck Ford (1986), and Larry Ford (2018) as well as her parents Johnnie (1981) and Frances (1997) (Froemming) Kuehl, 3 brothers: Norman (Sylvia) Kuehl (2011), Vernus (Ione) Kuehl (2001), Glenn (Mildred) Kuehl (2017); and 2 sisters: Arlene (Don) Holm (2022) and Jeanette (Ralph) Knutson (2007). 

In lieu of thank you notes, the family will make a donation to the Linden at Eventide, where she enjoyed her last year of life.

A visitation will be held on Thursday, August 18, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., followed by a prayer service at 7:30 p.m., at Hawley Lutheran Church, Hawley, MN.

Funeral service will be Friday, August 19, at 11:00 a.m., at Hawley Lutheran Church, Hawley, MN. A livestream of the service will be available here on LaVon’s webpage.

Interment will follow the service at Hawley Cemetery.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lavon Marilyn Ford, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

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Friday, August 18, 2023

5:30 - 7:30 pm (Central time)

Hawley Lutheran Church

510 8th St, Hawley, MN 56549

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Service

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Hawley Lutheran Church

510 8th St, Hawley, MN 56549

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Cemetery

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