LaVerne 'Tootsie' Kuzma

LaVerne “Tootsie” Kuzma, 87, passed away peacefully with her loving family by her side on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at Carefree Living in Ely.

Tootsie was born to Charles and Lillian (Rajamaki) Starkman on December 2, 1932. She graduated from Ely Memorial High School and attended Ely Junior College. In 1954, Tootsie married Bernard “Sugar” Kuzma and together they raised three children in Ely.

Tootsie was a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, VFW Post 2717 Auxiliary, Ely Bloomenson Hospital Auxiliary; Ely Business Women’s and was a founding member of the Mothers Auxiliary for Youth Activities.

Survivors include her children Nancy (Alan) Andreae of Ely, Richard (Barb) Kuzma of Eagan, and Tracy (Pat) Cherne of Rosemount; grandchildren Benjamin (Erin) Novak, Leah (Mike) Baroun, Kristin Youngren, Jon (Erica) Andreae, Mandy (Andy) Wineberg, Jill (Derek) Brown, Jordan (Krista) Kuzma, Matt (Dawn) Cherne, Tony Cherne and Steve (Karmon) Cherne. He is also survived by his great-grandchildren Bernie, Griffin, James, Sophia, Audrey, Addison, Caleb, Henry, Jack, Emmett, William, Eleanor, Charlotte, Parker, Jackson, Ethan and Logan. LaVerne is also survived by sisters-in-law Christine “Teeny” Klein and Donna Kuzma.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brother Kenneth; sisters Lorraine Schuler, Karen Jiacik, Sandra Starkman; and son-in-law James Novak.

Grandma Tootsie was a fun-loving and very proud mom, mother-in-law, grandma and great-grandma. Always a builder-upper, she was encouraging and helped everyone to keep their chin up and think positively and look at the bright side of life. Every chance she got, she was in the stands or the audience for the children, her grandchildren and great-grand kids, logging miles and miles over the years to cheer them on. She always joined into their fun, whether in the water, in the boat, behind the water balloon throwing, or during the endless games of Tripoli at the cabin on Eagles Nest, with her giant and audible chuckle was so well-known to all. She loved to be the provider of fun treats… from homemade gift boxes filled with cash, to blankets and scrubbies, to homemade pies and especially the Rice-Krispie treats. Her song to the grandkids and great-grandkids forever resonates with them, “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck and a Hug Around the Neck”. We love you Grandma Tootsie. Your fun and proud Finnish SISU will always be with us.

The family would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation to the caregivers of Ely Carefree Living and East Range Hospice for the wonderful care given to our mother.

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In lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation to Northwoods Partners, 300 West Conan Street, Ely, MN.

A service will be held at a later date. Family arrangements have been entrusted to Landmark Funeral Home of Virginia.

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