Lester “Les” S. Etienne

Published 6:26 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Lester Stanley Etienne, affectionately known to many as Les, was born on April 26, 1940 to Edward and Florence (O’Neill) Etienne, in International Falls, MN, growing up as the second of four boys in a humble 2-bedroom home. His childhood was filled with sports, excelling in football, baseball, track, and most notably hockey. From a young age, his passion for hockey shone through, culminating in numerous championships wins and creating lifelong memories on the ice. As a young hockey player, he participated in a National Hockey Tournament as a Pee Wee and later was on the high school state championship hockey team in 1957. He graduated from International Falls High School in 1958.

Lester “Les” S. Etienne

After graduating, Les further pursued his love for hockey at St. Cloud State University, where he was part of the undefeated and National Champion hockey team in 1963. Following graduation with a degree in teaching, he married Susan Leighton, living first in Truman for a short time to teach and eventually settling in Albert Lea to raise their family. His dedication to teaching extended beyond the classroom, as he not only coached the hockey team but was influential in establishing the local hockey arena. Hockey wasn’t just a sport for the Etienne family; it was a way of life. Les’ commitment to both his family and his passion was on display when he had to choose between a crucial sudden death game and the sudden birth of his son, Tony. As the first in his family to attend college, he instilled these values in his children, finding immense pride in his son’s accomplishments. The family cabin on Eagle Lake in Deerwood, MN, hosted countless memories of fishing and lakeside adventures.

In December 1987, Les married June (Eng) Lokken, and they embarked on numerous travel adventures across the United States. From 1991 to 2000, the couple resided in Dubuque, IA, where Les served as the Clinical Director for drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction. Upon his retirement, they returned to Albert Lea and Les resumed teaching Psychology at Riverland College, continuing his passion for education.

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His love for reading, with a particular fondness for mystery novels and newspapers, was well-known. Les was a remarkable storyteller, often showcasing his extensive vocabulary, even if sometimes using words incorrectly. His dedication to fitness was unwavering, often seen on his daily 3-mile jogs. He was known for his impeccable lawn care skills, always keeping his yard pristine and weed-free. Les’ dedication to his lawn was a reflection of his meticulous and caring nature.

Above all, Les cherished his role as a grandfather, relishing every moment spent with his grandchildren, from being their chauffer to daycare and school to cheering them on during their activities. With each grandchild, a new chapter of love and laughter unfolded, reflecting the legacy of a man who valued family above all.

Les passed away peacefully on May 12, 2024, at St Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN surrounded by his loving family.

Les will be lovingly remembered by his wife, June; sons, Tom (Catrice), Tony (Kelly), and Spencer (Michelle); step-daughters, Kris (Brad) Burnett and Kim (Troy) Knutson; grandchildren, Miranda (Charlie) Christensen, Morgan (Alex) Etienne, Andrew Weirens, Madeleine (Rafael Broseghini) Etienne, Riley (Taylor) Etienne, Desirae (Manny) Randle, Derek (Paige) Guscette, Brandon (Melissa) Burnett, Elizabeth (Josh) Guth, Lexie (Dan) Stallkamp, Sadie Burnett, Hayley Knutson, Megan (JT) Bellrichard, and Kasey (Rick Huddleston) Knutson; great grandchildren, Kinley Randle, DJ Guscette, Olivia and Ike Leeman, Lila Meier, and Taylor Bellrichard; brothers, Kenneth and Wayne Etienne, brothers-in-law, Tom (ShaRon) Eng, Leif (Cathy) Eng, Rob (Iris) Eng, Jim (Linda) Eng; along with several nieces and nephews.

Les was preceded in death by his parents, brother, James Etienne, sister-in-law, Helen Etienne; niece, Judy Tucker, and nephews, Jade Etienne and Erik Eng.

A memorial service will be held on May 18, 2024, at 11:00 AM at United Methodist Church of Albert Lea; Pastor John Mitchem will officiate. Les’ family will greet guests at a visitation on May 17, 2024 from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM at Bonnerup Funeral and Cremation Services in Albert Lea, MN and one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will take place at a later date.