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JORGENSON LAURA LAITALA JORGENSON Laura Laitala Jorgenson died on Tuesday, January 21 in Washburn, WI, just shy of her 100th birthday. Born February 12, 1914, on a homestead in Ely, Minnesota, Laura explored the boundary waters and gained a lifelong devotion to the wilderness. With a University of Minnesota degree in Social Work, Laura worked in child welfare in Duluth, where she married Harold Jorgenson, "Jorge", in 1940. During WW II, They moved to Washington where Laura worked for the Red Cross. Here they had daughters Linda and Lisa, and sons Eric and Torre in Anchorage while her husband, working for Interior, preparing Alaska for statehood. They built their own home and Laura helped found the Spenard Presbyterian Church, an electric co-op, and the Anchorage League of Women Voters. They lived in Cairo in the early 1950s, in Bogota for Kennedy's Alliance for Progress, and in Recife, Brazil in the late 1960s, where her husband worked on land reform. Laura raised her children, taught English, and promoted girls' outdoor skills. . From 1957-1983, they kept a small farm in McLean, spending summers at the cabin. An avid canoeist, Laura inspired many to love nature. She was President of the Northern Virginia Council of Girl Scouts. Laura and Jorge spearheaded Redeemer Lutheran Church's work with tenant farmers in Halifax County to form a credit union. At Luther Place Church in Washington they helped found N Street Village, a women's shelter. She traveled widely, but her great joy was the lake country in Ely. Laura was a fierce advocate for progressive and environmental causes, and proud of her Finnish heritage and its egalitarian traditions. Laura is survived Linda Jorgenson Gunderson of Washburn, WI, Lisa Jorgenson of Washington, and Torre Jorgenson of Fairbanks, and five grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in Washburn on February 14. In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome to the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, or Luther Place in DC.
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 26, 2014