Diane Marie Lehse, 66, of Menahga, passed away unexpectedly, as a result of a car accident Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010.
Diane was born to Arthur and Mary (Wirkkanen) Jacobson Sept. 26, 1944, in Detroit Lakes, for most of her childhood she lived on the family farm near Wolf Lake. She at-tended country school in Green Valley Township through the sixth grade and then attended the Menahga Public Schools through the 12th grade where she graduated as valedictorian of her senior class of 1962.
After graduation, she went on to attend Bemidji State College where she received her Bachelor of Science in English and also served as Editor in Chief of the student newspaper, the Northern Student.
Following graduation, she moved to the cities and worked as a high school English teacher in Rosemount for a couple of years. After leaving Rosemount, Diane went on to complete her graduate work in English at the University of Alaska in Anchorage.
Once she received her master's, she moved back to Minnesota and was married to Dale Swenson in 1972. Together they had a son, Derek and a daughter, Kaia.
She worked as a director for the Day Activity Center (DAC) for fifteen years while living with her family in Brainerd. Throughout this time, she also served as president of the Zonta Club and was a member of the Toastmasters Club of Brainerd. She also won the Democratic Party nomination for the State House of Representatives in 1986 for District 13A.
Following a parting from her first husband, Diane moved back to Wolf Lake.
Diane married Ronald Lehse in 1988. She purchased and ran Diane's General Store in Wolf Lake, eventually sold it; went back to school and shortly thereafter, resumed her career in education.
She began working as a special education teacher at the Pine Point School on the White Earth Reservation. She later received her administrative license and became the superintendent and principal of Pine Point School in 1989.
Following seven years at Pine Point, Diane worked as the director for an alternative learning center in Wadena for the 1996-1997 school year. In 1997, she was hired as the superintendent for the Kelliher School District (1997-2002). She then moved on to serve six years as superintendent of the Clearbrook-Gonvick School District (2002-2008) after which she re-tired.
Following retirement, Diane enjoyed quality time with her family and friends and was able to travel to Finland and Germany in 2009 with her husband. During this time, she also served on the board of directors for the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and co-chaired the Clearbrook-Gonvick Early Childhood Initiative.
Diane came out of retirement in 2010 to serve as the interim superintendent in the Cass Lake-Bena School district where she was currently employed at the time of her passing.
Through out her life, Diane touched so many lives through her work and volunteer activities. Her success as an administrator and grant writer provided leadership, guidance and support for a cause close to her heart: providing quality public education for people of all ages.
Diane also enjoyed several recreational activities including baking, cooking, sewing, knitting, playing music, reading, writing, camping, card-playing, shopping and traveling. Up to the end, Diane lived her life with "Sisu," a Finnish word meaning "strength" or "determination." She showed this sisu when she was battling breast cancer in 2007. Throughout her surgery and treatment, she kept her spirits high and was able to make a complete recovery.
Diane will be lovingly remembered by her husband, Ronald of Menahga; son, Derek Swenson of San Diego, Calif.; daughter, Kaia Swenson of Sauk Rapids; sisters: Viola (Roy) Jokela of Wolf Lake and Karen (Randy) Allen of Baxter Springs, Kan.; brother, Ronald Jacobson of Osage; as well as many relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Harold Jacobson; and brother-in-law, Roy Jokela.
Visitation: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Cardini-Pearson Funeral Home in Menahga and for one hour prior to services on Saturday at the church.
Funeral service: 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23 at the First English Lutheran Church in Menahga with Rev. Thomas Jacobson officiating. Barbara Ahl will be the organist. Congregational hymns will be "Abide With Me," "Blessed Assurance" and "Beautiful Savior."
Casketbearers: Richard Maple, Richard Richards, Jorge Lehse, Tony Lehse, Craig Rademacher and Adley Myllykangas.
Honorary casketbearers: Ardell Maple, Sharon Bergerson, Eilene Vanderport, EvaLee Janssen, Corrine Richards, Eileen Lien, Socorro Lehse and Deb Myllykangas.
To leave online condolences or to view the video tribute, visit www.cardinipearson.com.