Cover photo for Suzanne Leagjeld's Obituary
1929 Suzanne 2017

Suzanne Leagjeld

November 16, 1929 — March 30, 2017

Suzanne "Sue" Leagjeld passed into the loving arms of our Lord, on Thursday, March 30, 2017, at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, MN. She was surrounded by her son, Tim, daughter, Ashanka "Ann" and son-in-law, Kyle, dear friends, the Ryans, and Pastor Jacob. Sue was born in Fargo, ND, on November 16, 1929, to Chester and Helen Kaldahl, owners of Fair Hills Resort in Detroit Lakes, MN. After graduating from Detroit Lakes High School, she attended MacMurray College for Women in Jacksonville, IL, majoring in Physical Education and Health. During the Korean War peace keeping years, Sue served in the Red Cross for 18 months.

After Korea, Sue taught Physical Ed., Health and English in the Edina, Wayzata and Robbinsdale school districts, before moving to Port Angeles, Washington to teach. It was here she met her future husband, Ted Leagjeld, also a teacher, from Long Prairie, MN. They were married on June 18, 1957, and eventually purchased what would become Driftwood Resort on Whitefish Lake. Sue was active in the Minnesota Resort Association, and served as its president in the 1980's. She was named "Minnesota Resorter of the Year" in honor of her efforts to champion the "Labor Day School Law" which passed in 1985. The law is still in effect, and the hospitality industry in Minnesota is still grateful for her tireless efforts to pass this bill.

The resort was the perfect venue for Sue's many talents and interests. Guests loved to be entertained by Sue's energetic banjo playing at the Driftwood musical shows. Until recently, she also played drums for the First Lutheran Church sanctuary band. Horses and Shetland ponies were childhood passions of Sue's, and she raised and trained countless equine throughout her life. At both Fair Hills and Driftwood, she gave many children their first experiences with ponies. She was involved with the Latin breed of horse, the Paso Fino, for over 35 years, showing and breeding grand national champions. She will always be remembered as "Grrrammma Suuue" the pioneering woman who rode stallions at the highest level of competition, an achievement normally reserved for men. She rode well into her 70's and continued carriage driving her Shetland ponies until recently. Sue received her private pilot's license in the 1950‘s during her teaching days in Minneapolis. She was an adventurous pilot, with stalls and loops her favorite stunts, all while enjoying the beauty of the lake country from the air. An exceptional athlete, she had been encouraged to pursue a professional golf career as a teen. Sue was a collegiate basketball, field hockey and championship equestrian riding team member. Sue was a natural at tennis, racquetball, downhill and cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, and every other sport she tried. She began sailing at a young age with her brother Dave, and owned many sailboats throughout her life.

In the 1990's, she started a local group for woman called the "GOD Squad" (Growing Old Disgracefully) that encouraged woman to try new experiences. For a time, she held a commercial captains license, and took guests out on the Driftwood resort excursion boat, "The Laughing Loon". A prolific artist, Sue painted in oils, acrylics and watercolors. In the 1970's, she took on the challenge of illustrating two of Ted's children's books- "Chipp the Beaver", and "Laughing Loon". One of her paintings graces the cover of Ted's 2012 memoir, "Prairie Wind-Rural School."

Sue was preceded in death by an infant sister; her mother, Helen (Pritchard); stepmothers, Mildred and Ruby; and father, Chester. Sue's husband, Ted, her beloved partner of nearly 60 years, passed away on December 16, 2016, at age 91. She is survived by her son, Tim, of Pine River; daughter, Ashanka "Ann", son-in-law, Kyle, and granddaughters, Sara, Julia and Christina, all of Clearwater, Florida; son, Dan, daughter-in-law, Donna, and grandchildren, NiCole and Connor of Pequot Lakes; brother, Dave (Barb) Kaldahl of Detroit Lakes, MN; many nieces, nephews and countless friends.

Sue's indomitable spirit touched everyone who knew her, and this "Wild Woman" inspired all of us to live life to the fullest.

A Celebration of Sue's life will take place this summer. Memorials in Sue's name can be made to Heartland Animal Rescue (HART) Brainerd/Baxter, and to the Concordia Language Village, Skogfjorden. A Ted and Sue Leagjeld Memorial scholarship fund is being set up in their name.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Suzanne Leagjeld, please visit our flower store.


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