Donna Gregoire

Donna Marilyn (Sandgren) Gregoire passed away on October 7, 2020 and received her Crown of Glory. Graveside services will be 4:00 p.m., Friday, October 16, 2020 at Greenwood Cemetery with Pastor Linnea Papke-Larson officiating. All are welcome following the guidelines. She was born Little Falls, MN August 9, 1928. She was the youngest of three children of Isak Hjalmar and Ida Elizabeth Sandgren. Her Father was born in the province of Vasterbotten, Sweden; her Mother was born Hibbing, MN. Her Mother’s heritage came from Maxmo, Finland. Maxmo is a small Swede-Finn town of perhaps a few thousand people and most of them are descendants of the early owners of Oling farm who lived there over 200 years ago. Her Grandmother was Anna Lovisa Oling. Donna was very proud of the summers she spent on her Grandparent’s Backlund farm in Deer River with her brothers Irving Oscar and Paul Milton Sandgren. Isak owned and operated a heating business. Ida was a homemaker. They were wonderful parents who had great sense of humor and much love for their children. Fosston was a comfortable place to grow up. Donna graduated from the Fosston High School in 1946 and received her degree in Education from Bemidji State 1950. In college she met her future husband, Earl Gregoire, who was half Swede and half French and had served as a Naval Officer in WW11. They married in 1950 and lived in California, Oregon, and Michigan before settling in Bemidji in 1960, when Earl began his obstetrics practice. Donna taught school during the early years of their marriage. Earl died in 1986; he delivered more than 6,000 babies during his career. Donna remained an active BSU alumnus and attended Madrigal dinners annually as well as other functions. Donna was a wonderful Mother, devoted Christian, busy homemaker and servant to all. She had three children. Donna was well known in the Bemidji community and a very active member of First Lutheran Church. It would be safe to say that she never missed a church service. Donna provided many coffee servings during her committee work at FLC. She was on the funeral committee which required several trips to the church each week. Donna was a member of the choir for many years and she would have loved the new pipe organ at FLC. Later in life she volunteered for Meals-on-Wheels. She often transported friends to activities and appointments. Donna was renowned for her baking, and pies were her specialty. She served her family dinners with one or two hot-out-of-the-oven pies to complete the meal. A crisis occurred once when she and family could not find her lemon pie recipe which was her ultimate favorite. She was a member of Bemidji Lioness chapter and baked pies many years for the Lions chicken feed. Donna loved social activities. She participated in many neighborhood gatherings. On a weekly basis she traveled to Fosston to see her Mother and Brothers. Donna was very proud of her Swedish heritage and traveled with her Brother Irving along with daughter and son-in-law to see relatives in Sweden and Finland. She went on many trips across the USA and the world. Donna was a dedicated member of the Bemidji Affiliate of the American Swedish Institute for many years. She was the 2007 Midsommar Queen for the ASI. She was a longtime member of the Bemidji Curling Club. She encouraged her children to be in activities such as music, scouting, and athletics. Our Mother died at a memory care unit Rochester, MN. She is survived by daughter Annette, husband Ken Herman and Step-son Lee (Rachel) Herman; son James and his wife Sheila and their three children: Phillip, Bruce, and Rosemarie; son David and his wife Sheila and their two children: Colten and Sidney. Donna was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and her two brothers Irving and Paul. Pioneers they were, hard-working church going, honest, loved, and respected, and truly proud of their heritage, family and community. The family requests memorials to be provided to First Lutheran Church to continue the mission for God’s children.

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