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Thursday, March 24, 2022
4:00 - 7:00pm (Central time)
Friday, March 25, 2022
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
Don A. Larsen passed away peacefully in Mankato, MN, on March 8, 2022.
Memorial service will be held 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 25, 2022 at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Mankato. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m., Thursday, March 24, 2022 at Northview-North Mankato Mortuary, 2060 Commerce Dr., in North Mankato and one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial will be at Glenwood Cemetery in Mankato. The family prefers memorials be given to Ecumen Pathstone Living. Livestreaming will be available at www.mankatomortuary.com.
On November 18, 1933, Don was born to Charles and Lillian Larsen of Poplar, WI. He graduated from Superior Central High School in 1951, received his BA degree in Counseling from Hamline University in 1955 and earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the Superior State University in 1961.
Don positively touched many lives in many ways during his forty years of teaching and coaching. He had tremendous faith in the Lord and loved his family unconditionally, with great passion and energy. Faith, family, friends, football, and golf meant everything to him. He was a provider and protector for his family, a role model to many, and a true friend to all. With endless energy and passion, Don carried an infectious smile and a fantastic sense of humor along the way. He often said, "a smile is a universal language.” He loved to sing old country songs and he loved to dance. As a teacher and a coach, Don believed that lessons learned from athletics were far more important than wins and losses and he modeled those lessons by the way he lived his life.
Don often spoke with joyful pride of Poplar, the small town in Northern Wisconsin in which he grew up. He attended a school that housed grades K-8 with one teacher for all students. While working on the family farm, he drove cattle trucks to North Dakota at age 13. He loved Poplar and would often share stories referencing the town’s simple pleasures like days swimming in Lake Nebagamon, his mother's donut dough, street dances, town team baseball games, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and watching the bright stars at night. He cherished his roots beyond measure and especially his little town. It was there that he developed his passion for the game of football.
As a child, Don proclaimed that his goal was to become a football coach when he grew up. He was a massive fan of Vince Lombardi, and he loved his Green Bay Packers as much as he loved the sport of football itself. His dream was fulfilled when he began coaching and teaching in 1956 at Cameron High School. That started a career that spanned four decades with several stops before settling in Mankato, MN, which became his home for over fifty years. He served as the offensive coordinator at Mankato State from 1966 to 1975. After his time there, he accepted a position as the Head Football Coach and Girls Golf Coach for his beloved Mankato West Scarlets, where he also served as a teacher until he retired in 1995. However, his love for athletics and his passion for people brought him out of retirement and into a new role as the Regional Athletic Director for Section 2AA. He embraced this challenge until he eventually retired for good in 2013 at age 80. He truly loved what he did for his entire professional career.
Don's life came full circle in 1996 when he and his wife Marla purchased their dream cabin on Lake Nebagamon, the lake from his childhood. For the past twenty-five summers, he was able to spend time there with the family he loved and the friends he treasured. He experienced endless summers of beautiful sunsets, daily pontoon happy hours, plate-sized blueberry pancakes, dollar hamburgers, and golf at Bottens with Marla and friends. Most nights at dusk, he could be found at the end of the dock staring out over the lake, no doubt reflecting and thanking the Lord for all that he had. He was at peace there. Emotions would surface each September when it was time to depart. He never knew if he would be back, but as he drove away, he always looked into the rearview mirror with a prideful smile and a tear in his eye, knowing he had created a special place for those that he loved.
Although Don experienced a stroke in the summer of 2016, he remained determined and optimistic. He provided his countless family members and friends a true living reflection of all the beautiful lessons he had taught so many. Although times were difficult, his fantastic sense of humor remained and an unyielding belief that he would get better was never swayed. With his wife Marla's exceptional care and support and the help of his wonderful healthcare providers, he was able to spend the next five years at his home in Mankato and summers at the cabin that he loved.
Don will be missed by his loving wife of 57 years, Marla (DeWild); his four children, Barb Cobb (Dave), Gary (Paddi), Barry (Kristy), Marni Mazutis (Mike); his six grandchildren, Amy, Anne, and Ally Larsen, Merideth (Trzebiatowski), Jameson Larsen, and Sarah Baptiste; his great-grandchildren, Kendric Baptiste and Leo Trzebiatowski; his canine friends, Toby and Oliver (Mazutis) and his extended family members and friends. Don was preceded in death by his father, Charles Larsen and his mother, Lillian Larsen; his sister, Alva Larsen; and his father and mother-in-law, Roy and Charlotte Dewild. His greatest pleasure was being surrounded by the family and friends that he loved.