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Viola Espe

Passed away peacefully Jan. 9, 2006, at home in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Vi was born May 18, 1934 in Rolette, ND, the youngest of ten children of Coranna and Vital LaCroix who farmed for many years North of Rolette. She met the love of her life, Rod Espe, in her sophomore year at Rolette High School. Following high school graduation and a year of teacher's college, Vi taught for a year in a rural school before marrying Rod, then a paratrooper in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, and moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. When Rod completed his service, the family, now including baby Carl, set off for Washington State in their brand new 1955 Chevrolet. Throughout the years in Washington, in Virginia, and back in Washington, Vi lovingly and tirelessly cared for her family -- Rod, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees and had a distinguished career at the U.S. General Accounting Office; son Carl, who graduated from Stanford University in 1981; and daughter Cathy, who graduated from Whitman College in 1987.

Early on, when things were tight, and later after her children were grown, Vi worked outside the home. She was a clerk typist, cashier, school bus driver, school secretary and a sales account manager. She also enjoyed travel with Rod on business trips, joining him on trips to several states including Alaska, Washington D.C., and once to Germany.

Vi's accomplishments were many. The girl from the North Dakota plains became a whitewater kayaker, a downhill skier, and both general contractor and construction worker for the family's homebuilding projects. Her family and friends cherish the beautiful sweaters she knitted and baby blankets she crocheted for them. Her homemade bread and cinnamon rolls are legendary.

Vi will be remembered most for her loving kindness to her immediate and extended families and her legion of friends. She was the ideal mother to Cathy and Carl, the superstar grandma to Peter and Patrick. For many years Vi cared for Rod's mother, Una. She cared for her elderly neighbor, Al Englund. She also cared for two foster babies while they were waiting for adoption. She was a loyal and devoted friend to every member of her large extended family, whom she always treasured.

In 1983 and again in 1992, Vi became a breast cancer survivor. In 1993, she and Rod began the next phase of their life together, traveling in their motor home, becoming golfers, settling for the winters in Gold Canyon, Arizona, and later for the summers in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Everywhere she went, Vi formed new and lasting friendships.

Vi attended St. Bridget's Catholic Church while in Arizona and was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Klamath Falls. Vi is survived by her husband of 51 years, Rod Espe; her son Carl Espe and wife Julie; her daughter Cathy DeGandi and husband Dave; her grandsons Peter and Patrick Espe; her sister Angeline Harrison; and an even 50 beloved nieces and nephews, including Janice Kester, who was like a little sister to her. None of them will ever forget Vi's warmth, her love of music and mountains, and her kindness to them all.