Helmer Lawrence “Haaky” Haakenson, 102, Luverne, died Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Luverne.
Visitation is from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, with Parish Prayers at 7:30 p.m., at Dingmann Funeral Home in Luverne. Visitation is also one hour prior to the funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Luverne. Burial with full military honors provided by the Luverne American Legion and VFW will be in the St. Catherine Cemetery in Luverne.
Helmer Haakenson was born to Lars and Anna (Freim) Haakenson on Feb. 20, 1919, at the family home in rural Rock County. He attended country school grades 1-7 and finished eighth grade in Luverne.
In 1940 Haaky enlisted in the Army. He was trained to fix radar sets. He spent the majority of his military years in Kodiak, Alaska. He was honorably discharged in 1945.
Haaky attended Dunwoody College in Minneapolis where he completed their electrician program. He worked for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the majority of his career, retiring in 1981.
Haaky married Joan Serie on Feb. 8, 1947, at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Minneapolis. They lived in Minneapolis until 1948 when they returned to Luverne. Initially Haaky worked in Luverne but spent most of his career in Sioux Fall. Often he spent weekends doing electrical work for friends and family.
He enjoyed golfing and played to age 98. He and his wife, Joan, played couples bridge and enjoyed dancing.
Haaky enjoyed working on the family tree and learned his dad Lars spelled his last name Haakonson on his citizenship papers. As a result, Haaky changed his tombstone to Haakonson, insisting that was the correct spelling.
He was a member of St. Catherine Catholic Church in Luverne, serving in numerous capacities including Eucharistic Minister and treasurer with his wife; the Knights of Columbus, serving as Grand Knight for two years; the VFW, serving on the firing squad 1980-2005; Last Man Club, earning the title as last survivor. He had the honor of meeting Mary Pawlenty and her husband, then Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as Mary adopted the members of the Last Man Club. Haaky, along with his son, Mike, traveled on the Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight for World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., April 30-May 1, 2010. He also volunteered at the VFW bingo games at the Minnesota Veterans Home, removing snow for seniors who lived near his home, and assisting at Senior Dining.
Four days before his 100th birthday, he moved into the Oaks Assisted Living facility and then to the Minnesota Veterans Home.
Haaky is survived by his children and spouses, Cheryl and Bob Dodge, Concord, California, Marsha and Gary Gabrielson, Gary, South Dakota, Sandy and Dave Parpart, Delano, Mike and Pam Haakenson, Luverne, and Mary and Mark Aukes, Luverne; grandchildren Troy and Tami Burnett, Chad (Lisa) Gabrielson, Mandy (fiancé Terry Hendrix) and Eric Parpart, Andy (Meghan) Haakenson and Lindsay (Tyler) Kashdan, Jake (Christina) Aukes and Mariah (Sam) VanOrman; five great-grandchildren; and a sister, Lorraine Eggimann, Santa Maria, California.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Joan, in 2004; and two sisters, Ethel Carlson and Helen Probst.
Arrangements were provided by Dingmann Funeral Home of Luverne, dingmannandsons.com.