Sharon Iveland


Sharon Iveland, a 1969 Luverne graduate, was born on Jan. 22, 1951, in Luverne. She spent her life teaching, loving and being. Grateful for her spirit and love are her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, Aikido community, her “kids” and her extended family and friends.

After graduating high school, Sharon lived with her sister, Linda, in Minneapolis.  She moved to California in 1971. In the late 1970s Sharon met her partner, David McCormick, and together they moved from the big city of San Francisco, California, to the small mountain community of Whale Gulch on Northern California’s Lost Coast. Together they built their homestead, which included a 200-pound slab of pipestone they had hauled from Luverne to the Gulch. They were master carpenters in charge of building the community school in Whale Gulch and provided day care to many local children. Sharon also taught preschool, yoga, did massage therapy and was a birth coach. 

Sharon did not have children of her own; however, many kids took refuge in Sharon’s house at different stages of their lives. She gave them a home and guided them to becoming caring adults involved in their communities. 

After David’s passing in 1988, Sharon continued living in the Gulch for a number of years. Sharon became a member of the Aikido community and trained in this martial art and reached the level of second-degree black belt.

In 2008 she spent a year in Luverne with her mom, Betty. Sharon was a member of Grace Lutheran Church and played in the bell choir during this time.

In 2011 Sharon moved from the Gulch to Santa Cruz, California, to be closer to her family. She continued her Aikido training and helped “babysit” her grandniece and nephew, Sadie and Bodhi.

Her last days were spent in a log cabin in the Redwood Forest, outside of Santa Cruz. She lived with nephew J.R.’s family and her much loved dachshund, Rosie B. Joyful. The view from Sharon’s bedroom was the coastal mountains to the west, as the sun set, and occasionally the fog rolling in, as it did in Whale Gulch.

Choosing to hospice at home allowed Sharon’s family and friends to surround her with the love and support she so graciously gave throughout her life. Hospice was an integral part of Sharon’s journey. She helped start hospice in her community. In 2010 she was interviewed about her experience with living and dying in a Hospice documentary, “Death, Birth, and Living.” Sharon’s birthing and hospice care of others gave her a unique perspective on the life cycle. Her own battle with a life-threatening disease and her mom’s hospice care were instrumental in shaping how Sharon lived.

During her “Living Memorial” the last two weeks of her life, countless numbers of her “kids” drove hours and hours to express love and thanks to Sharon  for her kindness, unconditional love, and continued support. One of the “Gulch children” hauled the pipestone slab down to Santa Cruz for Sharon’s memorial garden. Sharon’s Aikido communities both in Santa Cruz and Northern California made the journey to connect with Sharon’s generous and inclusive spirit one last time.

J.R. and wife Rachel and their children, Sadie and Bodhi, welcomed all who made a journey to say goodbye to Sharon. Sadie, age 7, and Bodhi, age 5, were truly Sharon’s most cherished blessing. The family is profoundly grateful and humbled by this pilgrimage of love to Sharon’s bedside.

On Sunday, April 12, 2015, Sharon took her last breath on this earth. Sharon’s wish was that people remember her in their own way. She encouraged all to take an Aikido class or donate to a cause close to their heart. Hospice of Santa Cruz County provided amazing warmth and comfort.

Donating to your local hospice in her memory would be a wonderful way to honor Sharon.

Having been blessed by her presence are her six siblings, Linda (David) Johnson, Santa Cruz, David (Denise) Iveland, St. Peter, Ruthie (Larry) Brown, Alamosa, Colorado, Mary Jo (Steve) Graphenteen, Luverne, Paula Iveland (Raden Pramugi), Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Mark Iveland  (Denise and Sydney Hanson), Luverne; eight nieces and nephews, J.R. (Rachel) and Jamil, Jacob, Megan (Jared) and Melissa (Adam), Taylor (Vashti) and Anthony, and Nathan (Lori); six grandnieces and nephews, Sadie, Bodhi, Finn, Bergen, Cash and Peyton.

Making a place for Sharon will be her parents, Red and Betty Iveland, her dear David McCormick, and her brother, Howie Iveland, who will finally have someone to laugh at his jokes.

Along with the “Living Memorial,” family members shared in a private memorial in Linda’s garden and at Maplewood Cemetery. A celebration is being planned in her honor and memory in Whale Gulch at a later date.

In her words, “Let every breath turn to love and grace and let that love and grace heal mankind.”

(0507 V)





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