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LeRoy Edstrom

Former Detroit Lakes resident LeRoy E. Edstrom, 76, of Prior Lake, Minn., passed peacefully from this life on Friday, January 15, 2010 after a long battle with cancer.

LeRoy Edward Edstrom was born in West Fargo, North Dakota and served in the Army in West Germany during the Korean War. When he returned to the United States he graduated from Moorhead State Teacher's College with a master's degree in education, and began a 35-year teaching career. For 33 of those years he taught art to elementary and middle school children in Austin, Minn.

For a period of time from 1963 to the mid-1970s, "Mr. Ed." taught art to every child attending Austin Public Schools. He loved to create, whether it was a perfectly turned piece of pottery, a hand-crafted wooden box or a whistle fashioned out of a piece of a willow tree. He was a life-long tinkerer and could repair almost any motor or piece of used machinery, frequently helping family, friends and neighbors with their repairs.

Raised during the Great Depression, Roy passed on his love of life and acceptance of what life handed you to all he met. Roy was Scoutmaster for Troop 204 in Austin, where his sons were able to spend time learning outdoor skills and life lessons from their dad.

Roy loved participating in life and in all kinds of sports. He played football and boxed when he was young, and played fast pitch softball for many years. Two years in a row he pitched six games in one day in the Detroit Lakes Fourth of July Tournament. He was assistant wrestling coach at Austin High School for 16 years and continued to coach wrestling and softball until he retired.

For over three decades, Roy donated countless hours designing and building elaborate decorations for the St. Edwards Mardi Gras celebration in Austin. Roy loved nature and for the past 30 years he and Gaye spent an increasing amount of time on tiny Indian Lake in Otter Tail County, where the Kiwedening Estate was the home away from home for all those who loved to fish for "Old Nasty," enjoy a paddle boat ride or just swap stories with Roy, the master story teller.

At the cabin Roy cooked maple syrup in the spring, together with Gaye hosted the annual family reunion in the summer and fished year-round. We treasured Roy for as long as we knew him, and his spirit will live on for as long as laughter, good-natured teasing and dedication to family are counted as virtues.

Preceding Roy in death were his father, Carl and his mother, Isabelle (Betty). At the end, Roy was surrounded by his family to whom he had dedicated his life.

Roy is survived by Gaye, his wife of 53 years; his children, Keith (Deb), Ken Corey-Edstrom (Kim), Jeff (Sue), Don (Jill), Colleen Gardner (Rick) and Mat (Leslie); and 12 grandchildren, Justin, Megen, Christina, Jessica, Travis, Tim, Heather, Steven, Emily, Ben, Nate and Alex.

A private celebration of life was held this past weekend and a Memorial Service is planned at Balmoral Golf Course on May 15 from 1-4 p.m. Memorials preferred.

Memories and stories about Roy can be shared online at