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Len Grotnes

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Jan. 19, 1921-April 26, 2008

Len Anderson Grotnes of Island Lake, near Detroit Lakes, died Saturday, April 26, 2008 at St. Mary's Nursing Center in Detroit Lakes.

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Len was born of Norwegian and Swedish emigrant parents, Elinas and Emma (Anderson) Grotnes, on Jan. 19, 1921 in Chicago, Ill. He lived from birth to age eight with his parents and sister on a ranch they built near Richey, Mont. During the dawn of the Great Depression in 1929, they sold their ranch, moving to Island Lake, where he helped his parents build Valhalla Resort.

Len worked at Valhalla until entering the U.S. Army, serving from 1944-46 during World War II. Upon discharge he returned home to operate the resort with his sister, continuing his service in the Army Reserve for 32 years. While resorting he met a beautiful southern girl vacationing with her family and on June 24, 1956 he married the love of his life, lifelong business-partner and best friend, Norma Jean Sink in her hometown of Zanesville, Ind. They raised their children together at Valhalla, emphasizing love for one another and service to both God and mankind.

Len lived life in quiet support and encouragement to others, a humble man, large in stature and blessed with physical as well as deep spiritual strength.

Len was a passionate woodsman -- an expert hunter, fisherman and trapper who imparted these skills especially to his son, who carries these gifts on to others in Grotnes tradition. Of Scandinavian heritage, he maintained strong Trans-Atlantic ties to a large number of family in Norway. His letters, written in Norwegian, simple at first, developed further with greater knowledge, much due to his learning and performing old Norwegian songs which he continued to share with friends, family, crowds of people and church-fellow until the end of his life.

He enjoyed playing the auto harp and mandolin, encouraging his family to express themselves through song and instrument. He taught Adult Basic Education Beginning Norwegian classes at the Detroit Lakes AVTI in the 1970s, and traveled twice with family members to his father's homeland to further strengthen family ties. He was a member of the Sons of Norway, the American Legion, served the Shell Lake Township as a State Fire Warden from 1961-2008, and was a faithful servant to the congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church of rural Osage for 79 years.

Len was a special blessing to his family, imparting hope, faith in Christ Jesus, strength, quiet confidence and unfailing love, encouraging them to share this with others wherever they may wander.

Surviving Len are his loving wife of 52 years, Norma Jean; three daughters, Tamie (Steve) Jensen, of Detroit Lakes, Laurie Grotnes (Jeff Anderson) of Battle Lake, Minn., and Sara Grotnes-Dorman of Clearbrook, Minn.; one son, Stephen (Laurie) Grotnes of Detroit Lakes; seven grandchildren; one great grandson; and one sister, Evelyn (George) Olson of Axtell, Kan.; as well as numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews and their families; many lifelong friends and his resort family.

Preceding him in death were his parents and a granddaughter, Selah Jensen.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, May 2, 2008 at the Shell Lake Immanuel Lutheran Church in rural Osage. Visitation will be held Thursday, May 1 from 4-8 p.m. at the West-Kjos Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes, with a prayer service at 7p.m.

Interment will be held at a later date this spring.

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