Loretta Eleanor Wacholz, age 87, of Albert Lea, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 1st surrounded by family. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, February 6, 2023, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 191 Water Street in Alden. The family will receive friends at a viewing to be held from 3-5:00 PM on Sunday, February 5, 2023, at Bonnerup Funeral & Cremation Services in Albert Lea and one hour prior to the service at the church.
Loretta was born October 25, 1935, to Melvin and Pauline (Obermeyer) Larson at Naeve Hospital in Albert Lea. She was baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith. Raised on the family farm in rural Walters, Loretta took advantage of her surroundings and was active in 4H showing hogs and sewing projects at the Blue Earth County Fair. She loved being with the horses and farm dogs (she would joke she tolerated her sister’s cats). She attended a country school through 8th grade and then went on to graduate from Kiester High School.
On October 11, 1953, she married the love her life and best friend Duane Wacholz at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Kiester. They had met three years earlier at Mansfield Church Luther League and the rest was history. The first 18 months of their marriage Duane was in the US Army, stationed in Japan and they poured over each other’s letters until they would see each other again. Duane returned home in June 1955 and their son Bradley was born March 1956 followed by Brian and Ranae. While Duane worked for the Mansfield Store, Loretta cared for their children in their tiny home in Mansfield. In 1962 an opportunity arose for them to move to Alden. In Alden, three more children arrived Mark, Rita and Jennifer.
Six children made for a busy home with lots of washing, cooking, cleaning and redirecting which was seemingly best managed by keeping the kids active in education and projects. Loretta was a Cub Scout leader, Sunday School teacher and room parent. Every holiday was met with craft projects to create memories for her children. Never a shortage of unique Jack-O-Lanterns, Valentine boxes, Christmas Cookies, special birthday cakes or Easter eggs. Uncertain if she volunteered or if the kids offered her services but she would use her talents to sew costumes for Halloween, high school plays or the Alden Centennial Celebration.
Loretta was an amazingly talented with all things craft. She would sew clothes for herself and the girls, Barbie clothes and baby dolls, American Girls and yes, Webkinz. She was proud of her Norwegian heritage and learned the art of rosemaling and hardanger; she would share the joy of hardanger by teaching classes at Kalico Korner.
Loretta was homemaker for much of her children’s younger years but her entrepreneurial spirit rose when she opened the Early Attic, a thrift store ahead of its time. She could be counted on to make dozens and dozens of lefse every year and would sell it for what now is mere pittance. She also opened her home for daycare, sharing her patience and loving nature with young families in Alden. During the summer months, she would work the overnight shift at the Del Monte pea and corn packs. It was hard work with little sleep but she enjoyed being able to do the little extra purchases for school shopping. As the kids left the home, Loretta worked for the OK Hardware store and later the Best Western Albert Lea Inn. She would share stories of the “little hockey pucks” that would come for the local tournaments. She was certainly familiar with the shenanigans that little boys could get into.
Throughout her life, Loretta continued her passion to be active and serve her community. She served as President of the Alden American Legion Auxiliary, President of the MN Rural Letter Carriers Auxiliary and in her retirement, she was an active member of the Alden Lions Club and assisted with preschool. Perhaps her favorite community work brought together her passion to create and serve others. Her love of quilting brought her involvement with Redeemer Lutheran Church Alter Guild and Busy Fingers. She loved her Tuesdays with her fellow quilters and the gifts that were given to those less fortunate.
Loretta and Duane loved to travel and have new adventures. Loretta with a gift for organization, made camping for her family seem effortless. Whether it was 2-3 week long trips to Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Northwest or a weekend trip to Helmer Myre, the family always had what was needed except for the time she forgot a spatula (but only once). In later years, they parked the camper and would travel by air to National Rural Letter Carrier Convention, visiting their kids in California or Colorado and traveled to Europe and Alaska. The trips that brought her the most joy were often the shorter ones to watch their grandkids play baseball, wrestling, hockey, softball, soccer, football or music concerts.
The grandkids: No words can express the love she had for her 12 grandkids. There were always fresh baked cookies, ice cream treats, Playdoh, homemade donuts, puzzles, or lessons in how to make an apple pie along with endless amounts of fabric to learn to sew.
Left to cherish her memory is her son Brian (Brenda) of Albert Lea, Ranae (Peter) Wiggins of Rochester, Mark (Rhonda) Wacholz of Minnetonka, Rita Moyer of Albert Lea, Jennifer (Jon) Cira of Elk River, daughter-in-law Mary Kay Fowler-Wacholz of Scandia; 12 grandchildren Philip (Afton) Wacholz, Adam (Amy) Wacholz, Matthew (Ashley) Wacholz, Tanya (Kilian) Wacholz, Lindsey (Dain) Fowler-Wacholz, William Wacholz, Zackary Cira, Jordan (Ashley) Fowler-Wacholz, Jerry (Laura) Wacholz, Samuel (Hanna) Moyer, Isaac Moyer, Emma Cira, Amy (Amanda) Bullock; 10 great-grandchildren, sisters-in-law Marilyn Kruger and Joyce Larson along with nieces and nephew.
Loretta’s family feels blessed to share in her story, her life, her sense of humor, ability to laugh at herself, and her love of God. She taught us of the peace that passes all understanding and the unending love we feel in His presence. We will forever hold her in our hearts and lives.
Proceeded in death by her husband Duane, son Brad, son-in-law Neil Shellen, parents, parents-in-law, brother Leroy and sister Laurel and three brothers-in-law.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the wonderful staff at St. John's Lutheran Woodlands as well as the Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice staff.
Family suggests memorials to be given to Redeemer Lutheran Church in Alden.