Outgoing and cheerful, Audrey Josephine Larsen rarely missed an opportunity to make someone else smile or laugh.
With friends and family, new acquaintances and even strangers such as supermarket cashiers, she was generous with jokes and compliments.
“She would try to say something nice, to put a smile on their face or make them laugh or chuckle,” said her daughter, Lynne Larsen of Minneapolis. “She always wanted the other person to feel good about themselves.”
Audrey Larsen died of COVID-19 on April 6 at Catholic Eldercare, a memory-care facility in Minneapolis. She was 93.
Born in Superior, Wis., she was raised by her grandparents in Cass Lake, Minn. As a child, she was sent to boarding school at St. Mary’s Mission School in Red Lake, Minn. She graduated from high school in Flandreau, S.D.
“I think the boarding school part of her life conditioned her for the rest of her life,” said her son Jerry Larsen of Andover. He believes that’s where she developed her upbeat attitude, her devout Catholic faith and her habit of hard work.
That work ethic served her well after she married “Lars” Melbourne Larsen, settled in Columbia Heights and had nine children. She liked to joke about it, Lynne said.
“People would look at her like, ‘Oh my god, you have nine kids?’ She’d say, ‘Well I didn’t have them all at once.’ ”
Still, the children weren’t far apart. “I was always pregnant with two kids in diapers,” Audrey Larsen would say.
Even then, Larsen always worked part time, mostly as a waitress at several downtown restaurants. In 1978 she graduated from the Minnesota School of Business, where she studied medical secretarial work. She worked for the U.S. Postal Service for about six years, retiring in the 1980s.
She liked to read, travel, bake and play the piano. She did crossword puzzles in ink. She loved the Twins, nice clothes, card games and lemon meringue pie.
“She liked to play games,” Lynne said. “If there was something going on she would want to join in.”
Even to the end, Larsen’s mood was bright, her sense of humor intact.
“I would leave the nursing home and my stomach would be hurting from laughing,” Lynne said.
In addition to Lynne and Jerry, Audrey Larsen is survived by her children Robert of Munnsville, N.Y., Jeff of Coon Rapids and Greg of Phoenix; 15 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.
Services are pending until further notice.