Monthly Archives: April 2012

Another tribute

Lucy’s brother, Steve, just sent a very touching tribute tonight.

Memories are all I have now of my oldest sister Lucy. I remember Lucy took immaculate care of whatever she owned when we were growing up. Whether it be her Western Flyer bicycle or her 1st purchased car, a 1974 vinyl top Buick, and to all the other cars she owned, they were well taken care of. I guess that carried through the rest of her life as she took care of her home, her gardens, and her husband Ken. A wonderful trait to have.

Her listening ear will be greatly missed. When our Mom started having medical issues, Lucy was readily available to listen to me and give input if I were doing the right thing to see Mom was getting the best care. Lucy was unable to visit our mother when she was ailing due to the fact Lucy was beginning her battle with cancer. Even though Lucy was going to doctor visits and chemo treatments, she made it to our childhood home to clean it out before our putting the house on the market after Mom died and Dad was relocating to Burnsville. Just seeing her with us during this closing chapter in our lives brought much comfort to me.

I have fond memories of going on bike rides with Lucy.  Those carefree summer days of growing up are still vivid in my memories. As teenagers, we would pack up the family car and go to the family cabin on Lake Vermilion or a beach at Lake Leander for the day. Another fun memory is when we were in our late teens and stayed with our relatives in Princeton. We once drove to Ridgedale and spent the day shopping with what little money we had back then. I could depend on Lucy to be my co-pilot in our travels.

Lucy’s battle with cancer was reinforcement to me that life is so fragile and to live each day fully. We can never turn back the clock of time but can only move forward as Lucy would want us to do. Her presence on this earth will be missed but the gentle wind on a summer morning or the beauty a flower will remind me of my dear sister who rests in Peace.

I will miss you, Lucy, until we meet again.

Your brother,
Steve Honkanen

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Tributes, day three, and the blog will go on

Today is the last of the tributes from Lucy’s funeral. Some were from people who could not attend the funeral but wanted to share their memories. I am so thankful to everyone who took the time to write a tribute.

The blog will continue because Lucy’s story has not finished. Thank you for sticking with me through this tough time.

The tributes for today:

Please accept my deepest sympathies on your loss, and also accept my thanks for the time and inner strength it took to share Lucy’s journey with us on your blog. Your notes always helped friends and colleagues to keep up with both the good and the bad.

Lucy was an important part of our team at Gallagher and will be greatly missed for many reasons.

Anyone who knew Lucy knows that she was not afraid of hard work and was incredibly dedicated to her clients and colleagues. After her initial surgery and diagnosis back in 2010, she was very anxious to get back to work and focus on moving past the health challenge.

Lucy’s quiet determination to beat this thing served as an inspiration to us all. No matter what was going on or whatever set-back was being faced. Her inner strength was just incredible as she would take time off, have a surgery or chemo treatment, and then come back to work like nothing was amiss.

Being compensation people and consultants, we like numbers and quantifiable relationships. Here is my take on Lucy: Determination + Strength + Dependability + Grace + Smile = Lucy

I know that Lucy will be an Angel for you, watching and helping you as best she can.

God bless you, Lucy. We miss you.

Scott Hamilton
National Managing Director
HRadvantage, a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.


I am thankful for the opportunity to have known Lucy and be part of her journey for a short time. Her courage and determination to beat cancer was amazing. Being part of the Ovarian Cancer 5K walk/run with her and Ken in September 2011 was an inspiring experience. All of us at Gallagher were anxious to have her win her battle even though it slowly became more apparent that this was not to be the case. Thank you for sharing through Journey of the Teal Owl. I will miss Lucy very much.

Cathy Johnson
Manager, Technology & Operations
Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.


I worked with Lucy for more than seven years and only really got to know her in these last two years. What I will miss most about Lucy is her smile and her positive attitude. She was a quiet person but I found as I got to know her she was very willing to have a conversation and they often ended with smiles and laughter. I don’t think I ever heard Lucy complain, whether it was about her job or her health. I will personally miss her, and our team will too.

Karen Pielow
Area Senior Vice President, Client Services & Operations
Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.

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Tributes, day two

One little piece of business first: the funeral home sent me something they found. It appears to be a button or insert. It is burnished gray, looks like a flower, and has a crystal in the middle. I think it may have been from one of the GBS people? I would like to get it back to its rightful owner.

Here are a couple more tributes:

To my big sis Lu,

I have wonderful memories of our childhood: I remember you reading to me and taking walks in the woods. You taught me how to play piano. You would take me to Duluth to see a movie or to go shopping. You took me to my first rock concert. Lucy, you were my rock; I knew I could always count on you in good times and in bad. I will miss you so very much and every time I see a bowl of pansies or strawberries, I will think of you.

Julie (Honkanen) Greenbush


My sincere condolences are offered to you in the memory of Lucy. As a former classmate of Lucy, I will surely miss the fact that I will never be able to see or talk to my very 1st friend in school. We were a small group that managed to make it through all 12 grades together. Lucy takes with her a number of my 1st’s we shared together. My 1st non-family birthday party, etc.

I have lived out-of-state for over 28 years and have recently moved back to Minnesota, back to the Pike-Sandy area, and haven’t had much of a chance to reconnect with all I have known. So this even saddens me as I feel gain this part of me will be missed. Again, my prayers are with you all, that time will soon heal the sadness and renew you with the joy of the great gift Lucy’s presence we shared and carry in our hearts.

Kelly (Kangas) Beyer-Sheffield


Sorry to hear about your loss. Hazel has kept me informed on Lucy’s ups and downs. According to your mom, Lucy has fought the battle until the end. She was a great person and I know you will miss her greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We know that she will be up in Heaven with Rob. Both of them will be watching over you. Just remember all of the good times the two of you had. That’s what I do when I think of Rob. You have to treasure all of the years that you had with each other. Take care!

Denise Van Steenwyk

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Tributes, day one

Lucy had several tributes on display at her funeral. I am posting them over the next few days for those who could not attend.

Farewell … farewell Lucy, farewell my friend.

I intend to celebrate a life, a life that ended too soon. Lucy accomplished what God had planned. She gave me joy and showed me her kindness. I can now call on her to give me solace and ask God to send peace my way. I intend to celebrate a life, Lucy’s life. I remember when the bomb dropped, she had a heavy feeling in her stomach, and we hugged and cried together in the lactation room in the office. Then the surgery – the prognosis – not so good.

Sometimes we almost get it right. Often, quite often, I’m told that Lucy was lucky to have me as her friend.  Almost right, it was the other way around. I was lucky to have her as my friend.

I met Lucy the first day I started work at Stanton Group and she was shy, quiet, and respectful. You could say that I now had a mission, to get her out of that shell. We were both early birds and I would walk by her work station and say, “Good morning, Lucy”. Since I had a mission and I am a determined person, I kept it up and soon she was turning her head towards me. One thing led to another and soon we visited every morning at work. Lucy loved to garden and grow flowers and plants. I loved growing people and she is my rose in a bed of carnations (her favorite flower).

We shared Mom stories, her Mom, my Mom. I told husband and brother stories, kid stories and grandkid stories. She told stories about her husband and brother, sister, nieces and nephews. I told her what was happening, and probably would happen in the office. She would say, “How do you (did you) know that?”

She loved being color coordinated; remember the many colored watch bands? I remember her sweet little smile and the bottom lip that she could curl when she was thinking.

I tried to be a good friend and with Lucy’s permission, I declared “Lucy cap/scarf day” at work. I brought in bags of caps in case people forgot theirs and we all wore them. Co-workers stopped to greet her and let her know we all cared. We were celebrating her life at work. She was a rose in a bed of carnations.

After I retired, Lucy and I met for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee whenever we could. I remember meeting for brunch right after her Mother passed away and we talked for hours. Yes, she did hold up her end of the conversation.

I dreaded the hospital visits because of what the cancer was doing to her. I also loved the visits and seeing her smile.

Celebrate, Lucy, celebrate. God has called you home. I was the lucky one, you were my friend.

Farewell, farewell Lucy… farewell my friend, farewell my rose.

Your friend,
Diane Benner

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Lucy’s eulogy

Thank you to everyone who made it to the funeral today. I spent a little time with a number of people that we had not seen in a while. I’m very grateful to those who had other commitments but still found time to stop by for a few minutes. I know others could not make it today due to distance. I had promised you I would post Lucy’s eulogy and tributes for you. I would also like to send a special thank you to Rev. Naumann for such a beautiful service.

It’s been a long day for me and I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. Here is Lucy’s eulogy. I’ll post the tributes tomorrow.

“Please don’t cry one tear for me,
I’m not afraid of what I have to say,
This is my one and only voice,
So listen close, it’s only for today”

One of Lucy’s favorite songs was “Second Chance” by Shinedown. The lyric verse is quite appropriate for her eulogy because I have to be her voice for today. She requested that we celebrate her life and keep her memorial service upbeat. Lucy also was very uncomfortable being the center of attention, so I will keep my remarks brief. Those of you who know me understand that will be a feat unto itself.

Funerals tend to focus on loss and mourning. I would like us to focus on the joy Lucy gave us, the warmth of her smile, the comfort of her friendship, the loyalty to her loved ones. Even though she may not be physically with us, I can feel her among us. I am so fortunate to have an unlimited number of wonderful memories to comfort me.

I met Lucy when we worked together at DCA. The company had just moved from downtown Minneapolis to the top of the hill overlooking Ridgedale in Minnetonka. Lucy was one of the first people hired after the move. She was very shy and quiet but had a great smile, so of course I had to make her smile every chance I could. We worked together on many projects and I began to know her better. It took ten months for me to ask her out on a date, and we dated for almost four years before getting married. The best things in life sometimes take time. Lucy did enjoy her privacy. We dated for a year before our co-workers suspected anything.

What impressed me most was how upbeat and even-keeled she was. We shared many interests including nature, the Twins, nearly every type of music, walking, hiking, and bicycling. I also found someone who was extremely loyal, determined, and willing to help polish off my many rough spots through the years. I know I am a far better person thanks to her love and patience and I am sure others feel the same way.

Another of Lucy’s passions was photography. Her specialty was close up photos of flowers, which would require immense patience during set up. She shot her photos with a manual 35 mm SLR camera until digital cameras were available. Lucy had a keen eye for detail, balance, and composition. She received those gifts from her mother. Lucy could see the beauty in an odd tree branch, the colors in a faded barn door and the mystery in a dust-covered windowpane.

Lucy also had a great sense of humor, though I remember one time where she was not so amused. I was getting ready to meet her family for the first time and dressed up a bit. As a joke, I put on a T-shirt that had a screened picture of a tuxedo on it. When I arrived at the door of the apartment Lucy and Suzy were sharing, Lucy took one look at me and immediately told me to go to Target and get a different shirt. I had thought ahead and brought an extra shirt just in case.

Generosity for Lucy was a way of life. During her cancer battle, she participated in two clinical studies. One was for a new chemotherapy drug. She would have benefited from the drug, but she also participated in the study to help future cancer patients. The other study was about symptom management. This study required filling out many forms and speaking with a researcher monthly. She participated solely to help others.

Lucy was also a very empathetic person. She wanted to help calm people who were upset and soothe people who were sad. If someone were happy, she wanted to share the joy. Lucy could cry during movies. I was so lucky to have someone who had that much compassion for others.

Blessings were also a part of Lucy’s life. She always thanked her doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants during her hospital stays. Two of her cousins are nurses and Lucy knew the hard work and dedication it takes to help people try to regain their health. Lucy was appreciative of the kindness of others. One of the nicest pictures of us was taken at the Como Conservatory right after Lucy was told she might have cancer. I was going to take her picture near an orchid when an older man offered to take a picture of the two of us. I was so surprised I did not get a chance to take my coat off. It has been my Facebook profile picture for nearly two years, and it was one of Lucy’s favorite photographs. That act of kindness by a stranger will be with me forever.

We started the Journey of the Teal Owl blog and the corresponding Facebook group to keep people informed of Lucy’s cancer battle. Lucy was a very private person, but she knew people cared for her. She chose to open that part of her life to everyone who cared for her. We chose not to sugarcoat anything in the blog and everyone received the same information. It also gave us an unexpected bonus: all the touching and supportive comments left for Lucy. The comments have several recurring themes: Lucy’s courage, grace, determination, and strength.

Her Finnish ancestors have a word, “sisu”, which would describe Lucy perfectly. There does not seem to be a simple translation for sisu, but I have taken it to mean “determined stoicism”. No matter what life threw at Lucy, she would adjust and never break.

Sisu served Lucy well during her life. Lucy rarely complained the entire time I knew her. After her cancer diagnosis, never once did I hear her say “Why me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” The cancer battle was frustrating at times for her, but she stayed determined to beat it. We kept gardening, walking, and hiking as long as she was able. She kept working as long as she was able. She kept spending time with her family as long as she was able. For as long as she was able to do the things she loved, she was beating cancer. We chose to be happy and upbeat, to be there for each other, for our friends and for our families, and to treasure our days together. She succeeded in all that.

We will all miss Lucy and we will mourn her in our own ways. We can honor Lucy’s legacy by being strong and compassionate, by being loyal friends, and by making the world a better place though acts of kindness. Our love for her will remain strong through the years and our memories of her will never fade. Lucy will always be a part of me just as she will always be a part of you. Not only has she gained eternal life in heaven, she still lives on in each of us. Lucy showed us how to live a life worth living and definitely made the world a better place during her time with us. I will love her always and I know you will, too.

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“Photographs and Memories”

Lucy’s obituary ran today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Mesabi Daily News newspapers.

The funeral home will put together a DVD that will play during the visitation. I will be supplying 30 photographs tomorrow morning so the production gets done before the service on Saturday.

Steve and Liz invited me over for dinner tonight. I really appreciated getting out and spending time with them. I brought along a CD with about 90 scanned photos of Lucy. I knew this would help me select the 30 I need. While going through the pictures, I ran across some I had forgotten about. The memories were so soothing. I’ll miss Lucy for the remainder of my time here, but the wonderful memories of our time together ease most of the pain.

I was thinking about having a tribute board displayed during the visitation. The funeral service will be short and simple per Lucy’s request so there is no time for people speaking during the service. By having the written tributes, people can honor Lucy. I will make the tributes available on the blog as quickly as I can afterwards since I know there are a number of people who cannot attend. If you would like to leave a tribute, please email it to tealowljourney@gmail.com. I’ll mask your email address. Any tributes brought the day of the service will get transcribed and posted later.

The post title is a Jim Croce song from 1972.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Lucy’s Obituary

Lucy’s cancer battle ended Friday, April 13, 2012. She was 54 years old.

Lucille Marie (Honkanen) Hopperstad was born February 5, 1958 in Virginia, MN to Robert and Betty (Rooning) Honkanen. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Virginia and attended Iron Range Technical College. Lucy married Ken Hopperstad June 4, 1988 in Bloomington, MN. She enjoyed Twins games, gardening, biking, and spending time with her family.

She is survived by her husband, Ken; father Robert, brother Steve (Liz) Honkanen and daughter Micaela; sisters Suzy Galles, son Derek and daughter Kristin, Julie Greenbush and son Brady; parents-in-law, Ken and Hazel Hopperstad; brothers-in-law, Jim Hopperstad and son Mark, and John Hopperstad and son Jacob; and her best friend Diane Benner.

Lucy was preceded in death by her mother Betty Honkanen and brother-in-law, Robert Hopperstad.

Visitation is from 2:30 – 3:30 Saturday April 21 at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Home, 2100 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington, with the funeral service at 3:30. Inurnment will be at a future date.

Thank you to Minnesota Oncology and Fairview Hospice for helping Lucy with her battle, her co-workers at A. J. Gallagher for their encouragement, and to all the friends and family who supported her.

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