November 17, 1908 – July 28, 2019
110 years, 254 days
Mary was born November 17, 1908, the eighth of eleven children to Joseph and Magdelena Kostuch in Shakopee, MN. Eventually, the couple moved with their children to White Bear Lake where they began farming. As a teenager, Mary met Raymond LaValle from Centerville. Mary and Ray were married in 1926, Mary was 18 at the time. They had one son, Leonard, born in 1927.
For most of their lives, the LaValle's were vegetable farmers, starting in White Bear Lake on land that is now part of Tamarack Nature Center. Winters were spent in Bradenton, FL where they also grew produce. In later years the couple purchased a farm in Baudette, MN, selling their produce at their Garden Stop on Lake Road and wintering in Bradenton. Deciding to retire from farming, the LaValle's returned to White Bear Lake, purchasing a home on Auger Street.
A large backyard at Auger Street provided the couple with ample space to continue growing vegetables and flowers. Mary and Ray kept busy with the gardens, happily sharing their bountiful harvests with family, friends and neighbors. Mary also kept busy with her many crafts. An avid cook and baker, she was also skilled at crocheting, embroidery and sewing. Ray passed away in 1991, in 1993 Mary moved to Cerenity where she lived independently in an apartment, doing her own cooking and laundry. Her son Leonard died in 2007, at the age of 80. Over the twenty-six years Mary resided at Cerenity, she lived in three apartments and three rooms.
Your gentle touch
Your tender care
A smile as
Bright as sunshine.
A heart of no compare
A spirit that will
In the memories we share.
Our grandmother was a quiet, kind, compassionate, loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. We saw the love she and Ray shared for sixty-five years, her love for their son was never in question. We felt the love she gave to us and our children throughout our lives. The verse above exemplifies the spirit in which our grandmother lived. Following are just a few of our favorite memories, created over the years as we spent time with our very special grandparents. Along with happy memories, grandma taught us many life skills. We have so much to be thankful for!
• Grandma always greeted you with a warm and genuine smile. She was eager to hold and kiss your hand and say “I love you” or “Thank you” when you visited.
• Grandma was always busy – cooking, baking, her many crafts; yet her house was always spotless.
• Her appearance was always neat and clean, whether working the farm, in her flower gardens, cooking or crafting. Her pride was always evident.
Grandma loved to cook and bake! She was always happy to share her recipes and special techniques. As with many a great cook, grandma started with a written recipe that she tweaked over the years adding her special touches. It was hard to duplicate her finished creation following just the written recipe!
• A favorite cookie for many was grandma’s Molasses Trinkles. After mixing and chilling the dough, she would form and bake ONE cookie for a taste test. If the cookie failed, grandma knew to add a pinch of this or a drop of that to get the right taste in another test. Only after a successful test were full batches prepared.
• Other favorite specialties prepared by grandma include creamed asparagus on toast and pickled fish. Her icebox cookies were another favorite. If you were spending a weekend be prepared for these and a batch of molasses cookies. A batch of cookies meant a couple of five-quart ice cream buckets full. Remember, we said grandma liked to cook!
• A dinner with grandma always included her homemade buns. If the meal was at someone else's house, grandma brought the buns. Definitely better than anything you could buy at a store or bakery. A special treat was grandma’s freshly baked potato bread.
Spending time on the farm was always special, the memories created with our grandparents will be cherished forever. It is especially heartwarming to hear the memories that our children, Mary’s great-grandchildren, have of their times together.
• Grandma’s grits were, and still are, incomparable! Watching her stir them to creamy perfection while we waited at the table with anxious anticipation remains a favorite breakfast memory!
• Grandpa was happy and proud to be our morning guide on the Rainy River as we ventured out to catch our evening dinner. He always knew the best spot, had the perfect lure and never failed to reel in the biggest catch!
• Returning to shore, we watched grandpa skillfully fillet the fish before heading inside. There we were greeted by grandma’s warm smile and the smell of freshly baked bread cooling on racks for a lunch of sandwiches and homemade potato soup. After church on Saturday evening, grandma was busy frying the fresh fish for a big dinner.
• There was always time for walks in the garden, a drive to town, a boat trip on the river, the U.S. on one side, Canada on the other. Evenings were spent learning about grandma's latest craft creations and listening to grandpa’s fishing and gardening exploits. It wasn’t unusual for everyone to sit down at the table to enjoy a plate of cookies and glass of milk while playing a board game. A favorite game was Aggravation – although there was never any of that!
As children we enjoyed our time at the farm, whether a weekend, a week or the whole summer! Playing at the farm, feeding the sheep - Sueke and Nancy, picking pretty flowers or gathering fresh vegetables for the table. Helping grandma and grandpa with chores, learning to make and build things and how to be children. As we grew older we realized it was also a special time for our grandparents.
It was a time for them to share their love for us. A time for them to share what was important to them. A time for them to help us grow to become the people we are today. For those of you who have come to this place, we would greatly appreciate if you would share a favorite memory or two that you have of our beloved grandmother and great grandmother, Mary LaValle! You were a special part of her life, thank you, we love you!
Sincerely, from our hearts,
Grandchildren Caren, Jeanette and Gary and their spouses Denny, Sam and Julie
Great Grandchildren Tim, Traci, Hannah and Leah
Loving Grandma & Great Grandma
11/17/1908 ~ 7/28/2019
Preceded in death by husband Ray; son & daughter-in-law Leonard & Marilyn and grandson-in-law Sam Scott. Survived by grandchildren Caren Cunningham (Dennis), Jeanette Scott, & Gary LaValle (Julie); great grandchildren Timothy & Traci Cunningham and Hannah & Leah LaValle. Mass of Christian Burial Thursday, August 8th at 11:30 am at CERENITY CARE CENTER CHAPEL, 1900 Webber Street, White Bear Lake with visitation starting at 11:00 am. Interment St. Mary of the Lake Cemetery. Memorials preferred in lieu of flowers to Cerenity Care Center, White Bear Lake.