Pauline (Paula) Louise Page (nee Rasmussen), died unexpectedly on February 23, 2018, surrounded by family. She is preceded in death by her parents, Paul Rasmussen and Josephine Rasmussen; grandparents, Joseph and Louise (Vacha) Ludvik and Niels and Carey (Isberg) Rasmussen; dear friends Leola (Lee) Nelson and Denise (Denny) Welch; and former husband, John H. Page, Jr. and mother-in-law, Eleanor H. Page, Sr. Survived by children Deborah (Thomas) Colling, John (Linette) Page, and Robert (Michelle) Page and grandchildren Jennifer (James) Stone, Jacquelynn (Johnny) Suppon, and Kaitlin Page; dear friends Rita and Bob Beard, Brenda Beard Conley, and Trish Cassidy; and many other relatives and friends.
A gathering of friends and family in California was held on March 10. Services in Minnesota will be on Friday, August 3 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in the Great Hall, 900 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi, MN 55115. Visitation 9:30 AM until service at 11:00 AM; lunch immediately afterward. Interment at Vernon Cemetery, Elk River, Minnesota, following the lunch. In lieu of flowers, donations preferred to Alzheimer’s Association (act.alz.org/goto/beard),525 So. Lake Avenue, #214, Team Robert Beard, Duluth, MN 55802; Del Sol Lions Foundation (http://www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/delsol) on behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation,1047 Santa Florencia, Solana Beach, CA 92075 (Son, John, is active in both organizations.); or Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Diabetes Education Dept., Attn. Shelly, 320 E. Main Street, Crosby, MN 56441 (Checks payable to CRMC Diabetes Education Dept.).
Paula grew up on Juno Avenue and Rome Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. She attended Mattocks Elementary, the same school her children would attend. She spent many summers and holidays on the family farm in Elk River, Minnesota, likely where her love of gardening began. She also loved music. In addition to singing in choirs, Paula won several awards at accordion performance contests. With her parents’ encouragement, Paula joined the Minnesota SOKOL organization as a gymnast, dancer, and vocalist. She also loved her dog, Skippy, a black Scottish Terrier. Following in the steps of her female elders, she, too, was a fine seamstress, making much of her children’s clothing on what was at the time, an elegant piece of furniture, namely a Singer machine.
She is a 1951 graduate of Central High School (St. Paul). She went on to earn a secretarial certification from Rasmussen School of Business and was then employed at IBM until her marriage in 1954 to John (Jack) H. Page, Jr. Together, they had three children. Their first home was an apartment on Lincoln Avenue near downtown St. Paul; they soon moved across the city to Palace Avenue. Though they were divorced in 1968, Mom continued to live in the home until she moved to Laguna Woods, California in 2001.
Once her children were old enough, Paula began working for Cummins Diesel and later Olsten Temporary Services, rising to office manager when she opened a new office in Bloomington, Minnesota. Ultimately, she joined Ecolab (fka Economics Laboratory, Inc.) working (first as a Fleet Coordinator, then as the Fleet Manager) in the Fleet department for 29 years, retiring in 1998.
In addition to working full-time since 1968, Mom took care of everyone; so many of us counted on her to be our everything – and she did it so well. She cared for her aging parents, former mother-in-law, and other relatives, friends, and neighbors. She made sure there were as many good influences in our lives as possible, beyond what she herself could manage. She brought us to church, continued memberships in Indian Guides and Boy Scouts or Camp Fire Girls. She helped us find ways to send us to those respective camps: We sold candy, did odd jobs in the neighborhood or extra chores at home, and managed paper routes. She attended most ball games, concerts, school functions, Scouting, and Camp Fire Girl meetings and events. For several years, Mom was a Camp Fire Girl leader, having been in the program herself as a girl under her Mother’s leadership. (As a teen, she was a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) at Camp Ojiketa and earned several awards.) She also arranged to be a CFG day camp leader one summer. It was during these years that she further honed her love of nature, frequently sharing her skills with others. She espoused environmental education before it was so labeled.
Mom attended nearly every sporting and music event in which her children and grandchildren participated. In recent years, she delighted in watching Jacquelynn perform as a DJ. “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Highway to Hell,” and “Stay” were among her favorites. Grandma took her grandchildren on many car trips and to museums, art and science classes, and plays and concerts. There was never enough time for everything, but there was always a smile. To celebrate Jennifer’s 16thbirthday, she planned a train trip along the United States-Canadian border to Washington and south to California, surveying the scenery, enjoying each other’s company, and visiting relatives along the way. It was the trip of a lifetime for them both. Sadly, similar trips for her other granddaughters were not to be. For Jennifer’s and Jacquelynn’s high school graduation parties, Grandma helped them plan and prepare much of the food. She also had many suggestions for their weddings. Mom’s friend and accomplice, Lee, was frequently part of the action, too. Katie’s birthday parties were also treasured events – fancy cakes, pool activities, games, and more family and friends.
Attending events during her children’s college years proved a bit more challenging, but there were several in which Mom actively participated. There were concerts in Moorhead, Battles of the Bands in Minneapolis, and apparently, there was one frat party in 1984 at the University of Minnesota that was attended by adult family members during which a seriously good time was had by many.
During many of our elementary school years, Mom was a room mother and PTA officer. As a Room Mother, she scheduled other mothers throughout the school year to be sure there were birthday and holiday treats and celebrations for each child. Halloween was a favorite holiday of hers. Many will remember the elaborate decorations on our front porch and the tricks required to obtain a treat. For the younger ones, just getting in the door was a trick. Jennifer inherited many of those decorations and continues the tradition at her house. During her tenure as PTA chair, she coordinated the annual all-school Fall Family Fun Night.
While her children were still in elementary school, Paula’s Mother purchased a summer cabin on Lake Roosevelt in Outing, Minnesota. For many years, Grandma took us there for days at a time, leaving Mom to concentrate on her job and tend to her garden of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. We were able to enjoy the outdoors (learning the finer points of fishing, operating the pontoon and power mowers, meeting the neighbors) and Mom wouldn’t need to worry about us. Mom drove up on weekends to share these joys with us. It wasn’t until years later that we appreciated the stress Mom was under, trying to keep her family together, and how much assistance our extended family and friends contributed.
During these years, Mom designed a multi-level deck so she would have more room to grow flowers, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The deck exploded with color once her containers were filled and strategically placed throughout the space. It also became a haven for morning coffee, snacks with granddaughters, and gathering with neighbors, family, and friends.
In the fall of 1976, Mom was hit by a speeding car while on her way to catch the bus to work. Her injuries were quite severe, keeping her in the hospital for about three months. During the entire time, she was more concerned about us staying in school, not wanting us to worry or visit to keep her company. The latter, she emphasized, was up to the medical staff. However, when the holidays came around, we knew we must step up and prepare a celebration that would honor the efforts she would have made were she able. Again, her Mother took charge and helped us plan Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s meals, gifts, and decorations that we all brought to the hospital. Raising her spirits raised ours and helped make returning to school a bit easier. Mom eventually recovered and resumed her active schedule at work and attending to everyone’s needs as well as coming to our activities and events. She would later need a hip replacement and after a winter fall, a pin placed in an ankle. The first hip would need replacing many years later. After each set-back, Mom returned to her active schedule, tending to everyone else; seems she frequently forgot about caring for herself.
Mom always decorated for major holidays and birthdays as well. She would maintain she was not artistic or creative, but she would be wrong. Christmas and Easter were elaborate affairs with fancy meals to match the fine china, silver service, and crystal, gifts tailored for each person, other surprises, and the over-the-top decorating for which she became known. And there was always a favorite meal or cake for the birthday person. It’s hard to know where she found the time. It all just magically happened. Baking cookies and cakes was also a joy for her. You should see her collection of cookbooks!
Each August, we celebrated our Czech heritage with a holiday of our own design: Making Fruit Dumplings. Along with her Mother and sometimes one or more of her children, plums, apricots, and Colorado peaches were carefully covered with a special flour-based dough then dipped in boiling water. (The secret ingredient is cottage cheese!) When they were removed from the steamy bath, they were served with melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Originally intended as a dessert, we devoured them often for dinner. (There were no calories when served this way!) Paula was a fan of farmers’ markets, regularly frequenting two or three near home. Under her tutelage, we learned to appreciate fresh produce and how to prepare it. She also taught us how to pick strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Naturally, we then had to help prepare them for jelly or jam, freezing, or shortcake. Thanks to friends down the block, Rita and Bob, who permitted us to borrow some of their freezer space, we had access to these treats all year long.
Her Danish heritage was not forgotten. There were legs of lamb for Easter (Don’t forget the mint jelly!) and delicate cookies and baked goods of all sorts. She also amassed stunning pieces of jewelry and an impressive collection of Royal Copenhagen and Bing and GrÃ¸ndahl china. Besides using her buffet and smaller cabinets, she designed a large, lighted wall unit for her California living room in which she could finally display many more of her special items.
Mom encountered a few special people who encouraged her to try new things. (She did the same for her children.) She traveled twice to Denmark and later to Europe, explored the northern United States by train, mapped out car trips, and explored much of our country with relatives and friends. One summer, she even rode a Harley. After moving to California, she discovered a love for cruising, enjoying several with friends and family. She enjoyed themed cruises such as one where she met several of her favorite authors; others took them to Cabo San Lucas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska; plus, she traveled several times to the Hawaiian Islands.
Mom loved to tend her fabulous gardens, watch and study local birds – especially hummingbirds, hawks, and condors, experiment in the kitchen, read novels of all types, attend musical and theatrical events, travel, dance, and visit with friends. She also accumulated hundreds of photos of beautiful flowers, her own and in gardens throughout the world. She maintained a collection of herbs, small trees, flowers, and plumeria on her condo’s walkway; she often forced bulbs to brighten her sunroom. Violets were tucked in near the windows, perhaps as a living remembrance of her Mother, Aunt Rose, and Grandma Ludvik.
As a single person, she alone maintained her large house. Over the years, she designed and supervised a kitchen, bathroom, and attic remodel, repainted and rearranged several other rooms, assisted in the extermination of several racoon families, and as noted earlier, designed her deck. She chose her builders carefully: One was her Father, another was Merle, a close family friend, and the third, Mike, another friend. Later on, she met Frank W., who took on those sometimes pesky Handy Man jobs. As she prepared to move to Casa, she engaged Jennifer to use her CAD skills to design the furniture arrangement to be certain everything would comfortably fit. For Mom, details were always important to consider, part of her organizational DNA.
When she moved to Laguna Woods, CA in 2001, she was able to spend more time with her sons, daughter-in-law, and youngest granddaughter, attending birthday and holiday parties, and cheering Katie on at her swim meets and school events. She would later delight in a second daughter-in-law, Michelle. She also met many wonderful friends in her community (Some were originally from Minnesota, too) and became involved with the Disaster Preparedness Task Force as a building captain. She soon volunteered as DPTF co-chair and then as chair for many years. She formed a Dining Divas group of friends who both dined in each other’s homes and at select restaurants. Another group of friends regularly attended artistic events held at Laguna Woods; sometimes they traveled to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County to enjoy plays and musicals and revel in the talents of the Pacific Symphony and Chorale and many other well-known musicians such as Lang Lang and ReneÃ©Fleming. In recent years, when driving the freeway at night was beyond her comfort, her daughter drove and shared in the joys of fine music.
Mom loved dogs! A few years after moving to Palace, we adopted Lady, a feisty boxer who jumped our fence once too often. We found a farmer friend who would provide lots of running around space. Years later, Mike O. surprised us with Tina, a German short-hair Labrador runt of her litter, who, though loveable, caused problems of her own. Neighbors had dogs, too. A friendly St. Bernard named Tripper lived next door and smaller dogs lived nearby. Her years in California afforded her intense “doggie fixes” when she visited John’s and Linette’s various and spirited dogs. Occasionally, she volunteered for dog-sitting duty so they could all get enough “lovin’.”
Once living in California, though about an hour away from her sons’ families, she insisted on maintaining the family connections, particularly when the holidays arrived. The consummate organizer, she often initiated a get-together and expected to be included in those family events whenever possible. She loved meeting their friends; she was curious and she liked to keep up on the thoughts and opinions of younger people. For a number of years, Trish came along, too. Michelle and Bob opened their home to her for overnights, saving her from the long drive on the same day and offering good humor and roses while there (and more excellent meals). Mom always wanted to bring food, generally something traditional – red cabbage, spritz cookies, leg of lamb, squash, a special salad or dessert or other foody surprise. She also loved a grilled steak or John’s grilled turkey on the BBQ. When in Minnesota, she often made a few of her specialties (strawberry-rhubarb crunch, lemon bars, red cabbage, cucumbers and onions) to accompany whatever Tom was grilling. Whenever her children were doing for or being with her, she made sure to appreciate the in-laws (Tom, Linette, Michelle), too. When Katie began cooking, her potatoes and cobblers were much anticipated, too. Linette and Bob are fine cooks and they all traded tricks and recipes. When Katie began sharing her writing skills, Grandma was so proud and shared the news. When those skills culminated in very public exposure, she wanted physical copies of everything and shared them widely as well. Paula dearly loved having the entire family gathered together, sharing good food and creating more memories.
Paula was a sharp dresser, particularly when still employed. She carefully selected suits, scarves, shoes, and jewelry and was always well coiffed. Mom was lucky to have located skilled stylists, the last of whom became a good friend, confidante, and observer. Kim T. maintained a watchful eye and offered her assistance when possible. In the weeks before the Big Move, Kim noticed Paula was not looking well. She ran an errand, saving Mom hours of time, and insisted she see a doctor that day. Planning and executing a move is hard and tiring work.
Paula had a great wit and sense of humor and remembered just about everything, especially what her children did and which relatives were connected to whom. Though events were well-planned, she was very welcoming, frequently hosting wonderful parties on Palace Avenue, sending hand-written Christmas cards each year, organizing meetings and appearances for the DPTF, and creating a personal filing system that held family records and memories many of us might throw away. She spent hours writing notes on photographs and documents to help maintain the family connections. Mom retained this wit and sharpness until the end. From her hospital bed, she continued to orchestrate her anticipated move to Casa de las Campanas; she also knew where in her condo specific items were and heartily directed tasks and requests via her cell phone (conversations and texts).
Mom was a lifelong learner. She was a voracious reader and shared her books with the expectation they would be read by the receivers. She tired of popular TV offerings, choosing instead to enjoy public television programs. There were several gardening, traveling, and cooking/baking programs, a Japanese daily life and travel program, concerts, and many others. Her favorites were Downton Abbey and just about anything on Masterpiece Theatre. British television was frequently better than our own, in her opinion. (Of course, Mom never missed Dancing with the Stars. Deb watched in Minnesota and they compared notes after the California airing.) Paula perfected her computer skills, often by attending classes. She did the same with her new camera. Later, she figured out her cell phones.
To further others’ learning opportunities, her friend, Denny, the local Kiwanis Club chair, told Paula about its scholarship program. Upon discovering that part-time students were largely ineligible for scholarships, she offered several part-time adult students the opportunity to attend school. Mom strongly encouraged others to continue their education. As we grew up, many of our gifts were financial, intended to pay for advanced education. She offered similar opportunities to her granddaughters. In addition, upon joining the Laguna Woods Disaster Preparedness Task Force, she sought out educators to teach survival skills. Paula also arranged to offer child and pediatric CPR and first aid classes to grandparents who cared for their visiting grandchildren. She firmly believed in the importance of planning ahead and being prepared.
In California, as in Minnesota, Paula would chat up most anyone, enabling her to meet so many interesting people. Thankfully, she also had some fine and thoughtful neighbors. She and Paul F. volunteered as building co-captains for the DPTF. A few potluck parties materialized under her direction. Margarite shared stories, her doll collection, and grandchildren for a “kid fix.” SK and Sook became amazing friends who watched out for the “special lady across the hall.” Even the families “down below” in Audubon neighborhood were fondly considered; Paula treasured the noises of their children and dogs and the sight of their glowing holiday lights.
Returning to Minnesota meant a lovely drive up north to visit friends and another south to visit former neighbors, Bonnie and Florence. Now and then, we would plan to meet with other neighbors, Marge, Caroline, Joanie, Ellen, Bonnie and Florence, and Weisswegs.
Last summer, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amazing medical staff fast-tracked everything that could be in hopes she could attend Jacque’s wedding. The surgery was successful. Mom wasSta required to take only the minimum in medication (gratefully with no side effects) and able to fly to Minnesota for the wedding. It would also be the last Ludvik-Vacha family reunion she would attend.
Family was critically important and she maintained correspondence with several. The longest friendship of which we are aware is nearly 85 years long and is between Paula and “Aunty” Rita. As their parents were long-time friends, Baby Paula attended Emmy’s Baby shower for soon-to-be-born Rita. Rita and “Uncle” Bob became family as did their daughter, Brenda.
Paula was generous with her time, talents, goods, information, and money. She was able to give back in honor of those who had supported her and her young family. She gave advice and held her tongue at least as often; she saved articles that were directed to each of us as she believed we would be interested”¦or thought we should be. She frequently viewed situations through lenses others did not typically utilize. She taught us to be strong, to live well, be kind, find our passion, and be true to ourselves. Mom encouraged us and then would support our choices in any reasonable way she could. She was a dreamer, but also realistic and pragmatic about the possibilities. Mom was one of a long line of strong, independent women in our family who made it their business to make the world a better place…and she surely succeeded. Mom loved us all deeply and firmly believed in our own power until we believed in it ourselves. Then she inspired us to raise the bar a bit higher.
Thank you, Mom, for everything.
- Date & Time: August 03, 2018 (9:30 AM - 11:00 AM)
- Venue: St. Andrew Lutheran Church
- Location: 900 Stillwater Road Mahtomedi, MN 55115 - (Get Directions)
- Date & Time: August 03, 2018 (11:30 AM)
- Venue: St. Andrew Lutheran Church
- Location: 900 Stillwater Road Mahtomedi, MN 55115 - (Get Directions)
- Date & Time: August 03, 2018 (2:30 PM)
- Venue: Vernon Cemetery
- Location: 30 Evans NW Elk River, MN 55330 - (Get Directions)