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Throughout her life, Vera Templin enjoyed the benefits of playing girls' basketball in the 1920s.

Templin, long known as Vera Ilstrup, died March 6 in Buffalo, where she lived. She was 99.

Not long after her playing days -- when she was Vera Learned, the valedictorian of her 1926 Buffalo High School class -- so-called experts deemed the game of basketball too rough for girls.

She disagreed, though she suffered minor injuries on the court, such as a black eye from a fellow who later became her second husband.

After teaching a few years, raising a family with her first husband, Ray Ilstrup, and serving as Wright County's elected registrar of deeds, she helped promote girls' and women's athletics, said Dorothy McIntyre, retired associate director of the Minnesota State High School League.

"She was a role model of an athlete who lived a happy and healthy life," said McIntyre, co-author of "Daughters of the Game -- the First Era of Minnesota Girls High School Basketball, 1891-1942."

McIntyre said Templin played in the heyday of that early era, when many Minnesota towns had girls' teams. But by 1942, there were none, after a national effort to eliminate the girls' game.

Templin, who appears in McIntyre's book, was a "premier storyteller," McIntyre said.

"She said: 'I loved everything about the game,' " said McIntyre, adding that Templin played for a year while attending what is now St. Cloud State University.

Templin particularly enjoyed one story: Once, traveling in a blizzard to Howard Lake for the Wright County championship game, the Buffalo High School boys' team members took turns walking in front of the bus to lead the driver through blinding snow.

Templin and her teammates lent them their scarves so they could be warmer.

Howard Lake fans waited for the tardy players, but may have wished they hadn't: The Buffalo girls team won the game and the championship.

The way home was again led by the boys on foot, the girls' scarves around their necks.

In 1999, Templin and others were honored as pioneering athletes at the inaugural Minnesota Lynx game.

Her daughter, Myrna Docherty of Maple Grove, said she once taught in one-room schoolhouses, located between Buffalo and Monticello. In the early 1930s, she taught first grade in St. Cloud.

She married Ray Ilstrup in 1933, and left teaching. She and Ilstrup raised five children, and she worked for many years for Wright County's registrar of deeds.

In the 1960s, she was elected as registrar, and retired in the mid-1970s.

Her husband of 49 years, Ray, once served in the Legislature. He died in 1983.

On her 81st birthday, she married Herbert Templin, the Buffalo player who had accidentally blackened her eye. He died in 1993.

An avid sports fan, she impressed youngsters with her knowledge of the Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves, said her daughter. At 87, she did the limbo and swam in the ocean during a grandson's wedding celebration in Tobago in the Caribbean.

Her daughter Margie Opsahl died in 2003.

In addition to Myrna, she is survived by her other daughter, Mary Dyck of New Hope; sons, Marshall of Graeagle, Calif., and Michael of Buffalo; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Services have been held at Buffalo Presbyterian Church.