Vernell Lavonne Haugen

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:38 pm

Vernell Lavonne Haugen (Stephens) died Jan. 15, 2017. A memorial service is Thursday, Jan. 19, at 11 a.m., at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Eugene. Interment is at Union Prairie Cemetery in Decorah, at a date yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Vernell’s name to the American Cancer Society or to Holden Village in Chelan, Wash. Arrangements have been entrusted to Musgrove Family Mortuary. Please access the obituary and you are invited to sign the guestbook at

Vernell was born April, 1928, in Decorah, to Melvin and Josephine Stephens. She graduated from Decorah High School in 1946, and Luther College in 1950, with a degree in English speech and a minor in religion and sociology. Following six years as a social worker, she received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1958. She continued to work in this field until Aug. 26, 1962, when she married Merlin Haugen and they subsequently made their home in Cedar Rapids. Vernell and Merlin lived in Cedar Rapids from 1962 until 1994, where they raised their two children. While her children were growing up, Vernell kept busy as a housewife, a Girl Scout leader and a Boy Scout leader, and was very active in her church (First Lutheran Church of Cedar Rapids). Once her children reached their teen years, Vernell went back into the work force, beginning work as a cafeteria worker at Kennedy High School, where she would occasionally treat her son and his friends to a free ice cream cone. She later participated in the 1980 US Census as a census taker, then joined Frank Magid Associates as a telephone surveyor and later as a supervisor and editor. Prior to retirement in 1993, she took another job as a proofreader with a local publishing company. In August of 1994, Vernell and Merlin relocated back to their hometown of Decorah, and moved into a home with Vernell’s sisters, Esther Miller and Evelyn Stephens. While in Decorah, she reunited with old friends and was active in Decorah Lutheran Church. She volunteered at Winneshiek County Hospital in the gift shop as well as in the mailroom at the Vesterheim Norwegian Museum. She was presented with a State of Iowa Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with the Iowa Work Force while in Decorah. Vernell moved to Eugene, Ore. in 2005, to be closer to her daughter and three of her grandchildren. She found a warm and wonderful group of friends at Cascade Manor Retirement Community, where she made her home. At Cascade Manor, she was involved with the committee on emergency preparedness, the welcoming committee, and in introducing the game of Rummikub to many of the residents who have taken up her enthusiasm for the game and now play it on a regular basis.

She is survived by a son, Eric Haugen (Susan) of Ocoee, Fla.; a daughter, Dr. Julie Haugen (Tom Brase) of Eugene, Ore.; five grandchildren: Alexandra Haugen, Connor Haugen, Claire Brase, Daniel Brase and Kate Brase; as well as a sister, Marcella Norgard of Cedar Rapids.

Vernell was preceded in death by her husband, Merlin; and her sisters, Esther Miller and Evelyn Stephens.

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