On Sunday, January 2, 2022, our dear father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Leonard Larsen, 86, passed away in the Rainy River hospital in Rainy River, Ontario, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
Leonard was born May 4,1935 in Rainy River. He was adopted by Aksel and Berthe Larsen when he was just two months old. Eventually, Leonard was able to reconnect with his birth mother, Selma Anderson Nagy. He also found new connections with his four half-brothers (Wilford Lundquist, Harold, Raymond and Robert Nagy) and two sisters (Ester [Nagy] Smith and Peggy [Nagy] Johnson). This newfound connection became a great source of joy to Leonard and he valued these relationships the rest of his life.
Leonard lived his entire life in Bergland. He loved this area and always hated to be away from home. Leonard had a great love and talent for music even from a young age. When he was a young boy, he fell in love with the guitars he saw in the Eaton catalog. He would try to strum the guitars in the catalog until he was finally able to afford his first guitar. From then on, Leonard had a knack for all things music. In the late 1950’s he began playing the accordion or the guitar at dances. He played with Peter Picklyk and his orchestra for many years. He also played with various bands in the area such as The Drifting Rangers and the Polkays. In 1992, Highway 621 was formed and they entertained senior citizens around the area with their old-time music from Fort Frances to Rainy River. He loved playing the accordion and keyboard and was always up for a “jam” session with anyone who would join him.
Leonard always had a great love of learning. When he was young, he would spend time reading encyclopedias at the home of Floyd and Lillian Nelson. This is where he got to know Shirley Nelson and the rest of the Nelson family. Leonard and Shirley were married on May 19, 1963 in Fort Frances, Ontario. They had four children: Dianne, Arlene, Evelyn, and Donald.
Leonard spent most of his life working as a carpenter and plumber to support his growing family. He built many houses around the area and also built many cabins out on the lake. He was very handy and could figure out how to fix or make anything work. He was always willing to give a hand to a neighbor and would help anyone in need. Leonard loved to visit and would gladly stop what he was doing to visit. He looked forward to his weekly “coffee” group meetings with his friends at the Bergland Hall. Only the COVID restrictions could keep him from these meetings.
Leonard was a great source of history and loved to impart his knowledge of the “good old days”. He was a very active member of the community. He served as a councilman on the Lake of the Wood’s council, was active in getting a fire department in the Bergland area, served as a volunteer firefighter, and was a major contributor to the Water Under the Bridge History book. His love of history and desire to preserve it led him to the Emo museum where he served on the Board of Directors.
One of Leonard’s greatest passions in his life was attending The Western Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, Minn., each Labor Day weekend. Every year he would pack up his truck and head out for four days of music, steam tractors and engine shows, and playing his accordion. He looked forward to this trip every year and visiting with his Rollag friends was the highlight of his year.
Leonard is predeceased by his wife Shirley (Nelson); his parents Aksel and Bertha (Hansdatter) Larsen; his biological mother Selma (Anderson) Nagy; and son-in-law Thomas Berry.
Leonard leaves behind his daughters Dianne (Troy) Perry of Sugar City, Idaho; Arlene Berry of Spruce Grove, Alta.; Evelyn Larsen of Kenora, Ont.; and his son Donald of Bergland, Ont. Leonard has six grandchildren: Amanda Berry, Matthew (Hilary) Berry, Bryce (Rachel) Perry, Brandon Perry, and Brian (Tarry) Perry. He has six great-grandchildren: Ethan, Bentley, and Blake Berry; Austin, Anthony, Alexander, Cora and Owen Perry. He also leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews whom he loved very much. He loved being a grandpa and had several “adopted” grandchildren, including Dakota Nelson, Kevin and Kathryn Abbott and Monica Vellieux.
Visitation will be held Thursday, January 6, 2022, from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. with funeral services at 2:00 p.m. (CST) at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bergland. Due to COVID restrictions, in-person services will be held by invitation only for fully vaccinated persons under the direction of Northridge Funeral Home. Services can be accessed via internet. Please visit northridgefuneralhome.com to access the link.
Donations on behalf of Leonard may be made to the Rainy River Hospital Auxiliary.
Leonard was a quiet, humble man with a great love for his family, friends, and neighbors. His example of honesty, integrity, service and hard work made him the type of man that has touched the life of many. He will leave a big hole in the community and especially in our hearts. We love and miss you dad!
To view the service please go to Northridge Funeral Home Website for the link.