Lee Ann (Irgens) Torlakson
Passed peacefully December 3rd and is now with her beloved Tor. Born Sept. 5th, 1935, in MN, to Lawrence and Tomena Irgens, Lee Ann was valedictorian of her 1953 Fergus Falls class and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1957 from St. Olaf College, where she was Mid-Winter Queen and loved playing violin in the orchestra.
While pursuing a masters in drama, she performed with the USO for troops in Korea, Japan and Okinawa and joined the cast of the MN Centennial Showboat. After moving to San Francisco to teach English, she met the love of her life, Allen (Tor) Torlakson. Lee Ann loved the arts. Tor loved taking her out on the boat he christened “Freya,” after her. She was his first mate; he her faithful opera date.
Her other great love was teaching. For twenty years she taught Honors and AP English at Lowell High School and noted they, “were the best years of my professional life.” She relished teaching her wonderful students about life and literature, and was greatly admired for her talent and dedication.
In 1974, Lee Ann and Tor built their home in Half Moon Bay and enjoyed the ocean, walking their German Shepherds (Ulf and Flicka), and hosting friends and family. In summer they visited her family in MN, Tor’s in Iceland, and explored museums, theaters, and historical sites in England, Europe and Mexico.
Lee Ann retired early in 1994 to be with Tor and suffered greatly when he died in 1995. She explained, “I sorely miss his love of books, his pleasure in taking his boat out to sea, his fondness of pets, his manic sense of humor – yes, I miss him.” She also missed teaching and found comfort tutoring students. Trips to see family, to Shakespeare and Austen festivals and to Norway were special pleasures, as were each season’s opera and symphony performances.
In 2009, Lee Ann was diagnosed with dementia. As it progressed, she often wrote notes on cards. On one found recently she wrote, “I love you and the years. I hope you remember! I’ve not forgotten; not forgotten.”
Lee Ann was deeply loved by her family (step-sons Tom and Jim Torlakson and their families, niece and nephews, Caroline, Stephen, David and Ted Irgens and theirs). They are very grateful for Annie, Alejandra, and especially Edna, who enabled Lee Ann to remain in her home, with her beloved cats, her books, and her music.
Service: Coastside Lutheran, 11am, January 18th. Memoriams: St. Olaf College, Lowell High School, or the ASPCA.