|UND's "Dr. J," LaVernia M. Jorgenson, passes away|
LaVernia M. Jorgenson, 91, of Grand Forks, passed away on Sept. 23 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, N.D.
LaVernia was born on March 2, 1918 in Luck, Wis., the daughter of George and Alice (Christensen) Jorgensen. LaVernia was affectionately called “Dr. J” by her students and professional colleagues and friends. A multi-sport athlete in college, LaVernia earned athletic letters in badminton, basketball, softball, volleyball, field hockey and tennis at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and at the University of Minnesota.
She later went on to earn her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Indiana University. She joined the faculty at UND in 1963 and retired in 1988, having served 25 years on the faculty. LaVernia developed the Recreation Minor in the Department of Physical Education that evolved into the Recreation Major in 1974. She was one of the first members of the North Dakota Recreation and Park Association.
LaVernia received the Distinguished Alumnus award from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is an inductee into their Athletic Hall of Fame. She was one of the founders of intercollegiate women’s athletics at UND. LaVernia was the first North Dakotan to be honored with the Fellow Award by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Midwest Region in 1975. She was also the first person named to the North Dakota Recreation and Park Association (NDRPA) Hall of Fame. She continued her leadership activity with community and state organizations, including the Grand Forks Senior Citizen Center, and the Girl Scouts Pine to Prairie Council.
LaVernia is survived by a sister, Donna, and several nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents, and sister Viva. Her former students never forgot her, and she remembered every one of the students she taught. They were her family and she will truly be missed.
LaVernia began a scholarship in education at UND and her wishes were that it be continued. Memorials to the Dr. LaVernia Jorgensen Education Scholarship may be made through the UND Foundation, 3100 University Ave., Stop 8157, Grand Forks, ND 58202-8157.