Lolita Elaine (Elftmann) Paquette 85, of Mora, Minn., passed away peacefully on May 7, 2011 at her home at The Haven House in Cambridge, Minn.
Lolita “Lee” was born Oct. 14, 1925 in Minneapolis to Frederick and Lillian (Jenkins) Elftmann. Lee was the second child of five siblings and grew up in the Shieldville/Montgomery/Faribault areas. She graduated from Faribault High School and then from Gale School of Electronics in Minneapolis. Lee also spent a year at Purdue University in Indiana and then worked at the Ft. Lee, VA Signal Corps as a civilian communications technician.
Lee met Gordon Paquette while in Faribault and they corresponded when he went into the navy. Lee moved to Los Angeles and worked at Electric Supply Office and then at the U.S. Employment Office. They were married in Minneapolis on June 6, 1946 while Gordy was on leave. They had three days together, then Gordy went back to his ship off the East Coast and Lee went back to the West Coast. Lee joined Gordy for a short time in Jacksonville, Fla. in the spring of 1947. Then they moved to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in North Chicago, Ill., where their first child was born. Gordy finished his enlistment in 1948 and they moved back to Minneapolis where they lived for 32 years. They bought a cabin on Knife Lake in 1971 and moved to Mora in 1985 following the tragic death of their daughter Janel in 1984. Lee continued to live at their home after Gordy passed away in 1994. They were married 48 years. Lee moved to the Villages of Mora in 2008 and to her home at the Haven House in Cambridge, Minn. on January 4, 2011.
Lee and Gordy were very active in church, politics and the community. They attended countless caucuses going on to represent their district at state conventions. They sang in their choir and Lee was a member of the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Kevin’s church in Minneapolis. They loved to hunt and fish. They joined the Knife Lake Sportsmen’s Club in 1972 and both held many positions in the club, including president. Lee was an American Legion Auxiliary president, American Red Cross Blood Drive Chair, active member of the Kanabec County Art Association, Kanabec County Area on Aging and East Central Area on Aging and the Historical Society. At the age of 65, she returned to school to begin to achieve her Associate in Arts degree. She was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa. She became an accomplished artist working in all mediums. Her work as Lolita Paquette has been shown at the Image Show (5 counties), Vassaloppet Art Show, Mora Clinic, Kanabec Hospital and the Mora Credit Union. After Gordy’s death she continued to attend ship reunions and was made an honorary crew member of the USS Drew. In 2001, Lee was named Kanabec County’s Outstanding Senior Citizen of the year.
Lee loved to travel and visited Alaska, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, the Caribbean and many places in the U.S. with family and friends and the USS Drew ship reunions.
Lee loved God and her family, always treating everyone as family. Her last journey was home to Jesus and the people she loved and missed for so long. She will be truly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Lolita was preceded in death by her parents, infant brother Robert, brothers Wallace (Iris) and Dale Elftmann, husband Gordon, daughter Janel and grandson Adam.
Lolita is survived by her daughters Michele Merriman of Brainerd, Donna (Mark) of Richfield, Nola (Bobby) Smith of Stanchfield, Karla (Simon) of England, U.K. and son Guy (Shelley) of Ramsey, sister Carol (Jerome) Michels, Julie Elftmann, 18 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 13, 2011 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Mora with Fr. Gene Plaisted and Rita Clasemann officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service on Friday and also on Thursday, May 12 from 5-7 p.m. at the Akkerman-Ingebrand Funeral Home of Mora. Interment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery following the service. Arrangements were by Akkerman-Ingebrand Funeral Home of Mora.