Rachel Laaksonen, 76, died on February 12th, 2022. Rachel Clarissa Sapp was born to Wallace and Eula (Bender) Sapp on February 22, 1945 in Richland Center, WI. Other than a few early years in various Wisconsin cities and a number of years in St. Paul, Rachel was a resident of Duluth, MN. She graduated from Central High School in Duluth and attended the University of MN, Augsburg College, and University of MN Duluth for her degree and teaching certificates.
On June 14th, 1969 she married Ronald Laaksonen. Rachel and Ron provided foster care for many years, welcoming several children into their home who needed a safe place to stay a while. Later they had two daughters of their own, Katherine and Laura.
Rachel taught in numerous schools in the St. Paul and Duluth areas ranging from music, elementary, substitute teaching, and special ed as well as giving piano lessons in her home and serving as an organist in many churches. Rachel was the kind of person willing to work hard in all aspects of life. In addition to her dedication to teaching she was also passionate about service to her community. She volunteered extensively in her church and after retirement still volunteered in local schools. She brought her piano students to nursing homes for their recitals, recognizing the lovely intersection of music therapy, community service, and respect it could foster. She brought people together by constantly hosting gatherings at her home for friends and neighbors with the fancy china and silver that had to be polished and homemade baked goods. She had a knack for finding stray senior citizens with no family and shared her own children and talents with them. She was an avid gardener with beautiful perennial beds at her Lakeside home. Healthy living, cooking, baking, sewing, environmentalism, her love for animals, respect for the elderly and the sacred, and so much more defined her life that was cut too short by Alzheimer’s Disease. But even in the years of her mental decline her personality remained; her smile and laugh and good nature were there until the end. A favorite resident in her long-term care facility, she even handled dementia well. She will be missed by many.
Rachel is preceded in death by her parents and brother Harley David Sapp. She is survived by her husband of 52 years Ronald, her daughter Katie, daughter Laura & her husband Roger, and grandchildren Robin and Evelyn.
The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the caring professionals who helped Rachel have a good quality of life throughout this journey including Benedictine Adult Day Services, New Perspective Cloquet, Marywood, St. Croix Hospice, and her primary care provider Andrea Dickinson.
A memorial service to honor Rachel will be held Saturday March 5th, 2022 at 1:00 pm at Lakeside Presbyterian Church (4430 McCulloch St, Duluth) with a reception to follow one block away at Portman Community Center (4601 McCulloch St.) Masks are required in the church. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, Duluth. In lieu of flowers, memorials appreciated to the MN Alzheimer's Association or Duluth Victory Chorus. Or do something in honor of Rachel for your local school, nursing home, or food shelf. The world would be a better place if we lived by her example.