Wayne LaVerne LaDukeJanuary 8, 1939 ~ September 10, 2017 (age 78)
Wayne L. LaDuke, age 78, of Cass Lake, MN, and member of the White Earth Band of Ojibway, began his spiritual journey on September 10, 2017. Wayne was the oldest of 8 children born to Clifton and Hazel (nee Bisson) LaDuke. He never dreamed growing up in a house with no running water, phone or electricity on the south side of Cass Lake that one day he would be elected Mayor of his hometown. After graduating from Cass Lake High School he attended Bemidji State University, worked at Boeing in Seattle, WA and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, based out of Camp Pendleton in California. He served for three years before being honorably discharged as a Corporal in 1965.
After his service, he settled in Minneapolis where he met and married his wife of nearly 30 years, Rita. Together, they had two children. Wayne was a long – time resident of Minneapolis, MN, retiring from the United States Postal Service (2 years as District Manager in Bemidji, MN) as a much beloved supervisor before he returned to his hometown of Cass Lake in 2005. Even though he was a White Earth enrollee, he lived about ¼ of his life on the Leech Lake Reservation.
He believed strongly in active engagement in causes he believed in and he lived his belief serving in numerous capacities. Wayne served as Mayor of Cass Lake from 2006 – 2016. He had deep pride for his community and its people and he wanted others to share that pride. He was, also, a former Post-Commander of the American Legion in Cass Lake, as well as a member of the Leach Lake Veteran’s Affairs, Leach Lake Health & Human Services, Kitchigami (MN) Regional Library Board, American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Marine Corp League, Wayne was also a 3rd Degree Knight of Columbus.
An avid sportsman he was an active member of several hunting and firearm related organizations: Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA), and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
He was always grateful for the blessings of his life and he was generous with his time and money in helping others. He spent numerous hours personally working in the truck during the annual Cass Lake Clean-Up, planting flowers in the planters downtown, listening to the concerns of others, and helping people clean-up after the devastating storm of 2012.
Preceded in death by his wife, Rita (nee Wronski), their son, Wayne Joseph, his parents, his brothers, Clifton “Red” and Curtis, and his sisters, Wanda and Barbara, his parents – in law, Joseph and Viola (Bucy) Wronski, 3 nephews and 1 niece. Wayne is survived by his daughter, Janice of St. Paul, MN, and his sisters, Linda Stahr of Minnetonka, MN, Joanne Spencer of New Hope, MN and Suzanne (Duane) Veroeven of Burnsville, MN, as well as his sisters – in – law (Nancy, Joan, Cindy) and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Mass will held at St. Charles Catholic Church in Cass Lake, MN at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. Wayne’s honorary pallbearers are The Knights of Columbus, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Marine Corps League, The White Earth Honor Guard and The Leech Lake Honor Guard. Inurnment will be in Fort Snelling National Cemetery at Minneapolis, MN at 11:30a.m., Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The family requests memorial contributions to Catholic Charities USA (Hurricane Relief), 721 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60654 or www.catholiccharities.net/donate.
Wayne’s care has been entrusted to Northern Peace Funeral Home of Walker, MN. Online condolences for the family may be left at www.northernpeace.com