Saturday, August 5, 2023
1:00 - 2:00pm (Mountain (no DST) time)
Monday, August 7, 2023
9:15 - 9:45am (Mountain (no DST) time)
LaVarr Yvonne Erickson von Holdt was born in Colton, Washington to George and Hila Erickson. The family, which later included three more children, lived in Genesee, Idaho where LaVarr’s father worked at the Genesee Union Warehouse. In 1937, George took over the Erickson family farm near Genesee and LaVarr grew up milking cows, driving grain trucks and helping with innumerable farm chores. During her high school years, LaVarr participated in 4-H Club and in her senior year, having completed 23 major projects, won an award to attend the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago as the 4-H club member who had attained the highest rating in general achievement in her county. After graduation from Genesee High School in 1950, LaVarr attended Pacific Lutheran College for one year, then transferred to the Gonzaga University nursing program at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington. Nursing suited her and she proudly identified herself as a nurse for the rest of her life.
Near the end of her nursing studies in 1954, LaVarr went on a blind date with a young airman named Roger von Holdt. Three weeks later they were engaged, then married on September 19 of the same year, eight days after her nursing school graduation. For the next year, the happy couple lived in Spokane where LaVarr worked as a nurse and Roger finished out his enlistment in the U.S. Air Force. In September 1955, soon after Roger left the Air Force, they welcomed a daughter, Laura Lynn. A few weeks later the family moved to Denver where Roger joined his father at the W. von Holdt Company as a journeyman painter. Son Dean was born in October of 1956, completing the family. Roger took over his father’s business in 1957 and LaVarr took on the task of office manager. She attended night school to hone her business accounting skills and kept things running for the business until they closed in 2008.
As her children grew, in addition to working at the company office, LaVarr served as room mother in the children’s classrooms, ferried them to music lessons and athletic practices, and kept a garden of both flowers and vegetables. In 1963, she joined the Meadowlark Bowling League and participated for 37 years, making many friends and earning at least twenty 200-score pins along the way. She also loved to play Bridge, sharing many happy days with neighborhood and church friends in several different clubs, as well as regular Friday night games with one of Roger’s high school friends and his wife. Couples’ clubs, mainly with church friends, highlighted many evenings.
The family joined Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church in 1958, spent some years at American Lutheran Memorial Church, then returned to Holy Shepherd where LaVarr continued her membership to the end of her life. Roger was active in the Masonic lodge in his early married life, and he and LaVarr enjoyed many friendships there.
LaVarr and Roger loved to travel. While the children were still at home, the family went on frequent camping trips across Colorado and Utah. Moab and Canyonlands, mostly unvisited sites at the time, were favorite destinations. They made trips to the farm in northern Idaho as often as possible. They were founding members of the Ports of Call Travel Club in 1980 and made at least 22 trips in the U.S. and around the world before the club disbanded in 2002. As members of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, they attended yearly conventions around the nation, sometimes bringing the kids along. After Laura married, Roger and LaVarr made frequent trips to Houston to visit her family, driving every possible route to see the country along the way.
The von Holdts were among the original Bronco season ticket holders, having seats in the south stands from 1960 until a stadium upgrade moved them into the west stands. LaVarr was an ardent fan, cheering her team on even after the season tickets were handed over to son Dean. In 1975, they bought the first of two condominiums at Keystone resort. LaVarr, though she did not ski, enjoyed nothing more than spending the weekend in Keystone with family and friends.
Above all, LaVarr loved her family. Her example taught all of us how to persevere under adversity and to face life with a cheerful nature. Mentally sharp to the end of her life, she was adept on her computer and followed all family members on social media, with frequent phone calls, and visits at her home. She is survived by daughter Laura Wilhelm and her husband Chandler, their children Anna Menon (husband Anil, children James and Grace), Rachel (sons Memphis and Julian) and Alex; son Dean and his wife Laurie, their children Kyle (wife Kim, daughters Jordyn and Haley), Keri Vasek (husband Jon-Michael, children Noah, Evelyn, Claire and Aaron) and Kody (wife Killian); brother Dewaine Erickson (wife Billie); sister Beverly Jacobs; sister-in-law Kay Erickson; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial Contributions in LaVarr’s name may be made to:
Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church
920 Kipling Street
Lakewood, Colorado 80215
The Action Center
8745 W. 14th Ave.
Lakewood, Colorado 80215