Obituary of LaVonne Amaral
LaVonne Amaral passed peacefully surrounded by her children and loving caregivers on October 10, 2016 at her home in Eskaton, Grass Valley, CA. She was 94. The second of six children, LaVonne was born in Hubbard County, Minnesota, May 12, 1922, to Nellie Andress Kruger and Nickolas Francis Kruger. Her family moved to California in 1933, first to the Westwood area and finally to Arcata where she graduated from Arcata High in 1940. LaVonne had a gift for art and was encouraged by a high school teacher to continue her education. She attended California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA but that education was cut short when she ran out of of funds, sadly, not aware a full scholarship had been available. Years later LaVonne studied art through a correspondence course and received a credential to teach art, which she did for several years. She continued her love for art throughout her life. The many paintings that graced her home and hung in galleries, including Center for the Arts are a testament to her talent. LaVonne left home in search of work and eventually found a factory job at Calaveras Forest Products in Toyon, near Stockton. There she met Frank Amaral, the assistant general manager of the plant. After three short months, they decided to get married on November 26, 1942. In 1944, they moved to Camptonville, with three-month old Julia, so Frank could manage Oregon Creek Lumber Company. A son, Laurence, came along in 1946. In 1950 the family moved to Reward Street in Nevada City, so the children could attend Mt St Mary’s Academy. While Frank commuted back to Camptonville every day, LaVonne began to transform
their property into what eventually came to be called the Amaral Gardens. The gardens were a reflection of beauty, peace, love, and dedication. To experience her garden was to know LaVonne. The Amarals hosted many events and parties in the gardens benefitting friends, social clubs like bridge and golf and charitable groups like Music In The Mountains. In the early years LaVonne was involved in the Mt St Mary’s Mothers Club and the Catholic Youth Organization, where she made sure her kids stayed out of trouble. Later she got involved in St Canice Church, especially the Ladies Guild. Other local organizations such as Center for the Arts, InConcert Sierra, Sierra Nevada Hospital Foundation and Hospice of the Foothills benefitted from LaVonne and Frank’s generosity. There were also anonymous donations to people in need, who never knew who helped them. In addition to her other activities, LaVonne took up golf in the early 1950s and was active in the Nevada County Country Club, then in the Alta Sierra Country Club and later in Auburn Valley Country Club. She participated in many club activities until she gave up golf in her late 70’s. Together LaVonne and Frank traveled the world visiting Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, South and North America and most especially, the North Pole in 1997. In 1999, LaVonne began writing a manuscript to chronicle both Frank and her family histories from 1798 up to Frank’s death in 2007. She worked several more y ears and in 2012 published a three-volume set, appropriately titled “What a Wonderful Life.” Underpinning this activity was a very religious person, who believed fervently in her adopted Catholic faith and said the rosary every day from the time she married Frank and became a Catholic until she was close to death and no longer able. It was her gift of faith and compassion and her love of God and all that is good about human nature that made her the person so many people came to love and admire. LaVonne stayed in her home and gardens until 2013, a total of 63 years. At the age of 91, she sold her beloved home and moved to Eskaton Village in Grass Valley. She donated most of her art to Center for the Arts, which hosted a one-woman art exhibit and sold several of her works with the proceeds going to arts education. The remaining pieces are available there if anyone is interested. LaVonne is survived by her daughter Julia Amaral and husband Mark Strate, Grass Valley, son Laurence (Lance) Amaral, Nevada City, adopted grandson Brad Angove Amaral and wife Lori, step grandchildren Stephanie Spencer Clark and husband Jeff, William (Spence) Spencer and step great grandsons Collin and Evan Clark and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Frank Amaral, daughter in- law, Gloria Amaral, her parents and siblings Helen, LaVena, Nick, Jack and Jim. The Rosary, LaVonne’s favorite prayer, and a sharing of memories will be held at St. Canice Catholic Church, 317 Washington Street, Nevada City, CA on Friday, October 28 at 7:30pm. Friends and family are encouraged to come and share their experiences and memories of LaVonne. A memorial service will be held Saturday, October 29 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 235 Chapel Street, Grass Valley, CA at 11am with a reception to follow immediately at St. Patrick’s Hall, next door to the church. A 20-minute video of LaVonne’s life will be shown during the reception. The family requests that gifts in memory of LaVonne Amaral be made in her honor to Hospice of the Foothills, Sierra Nevada Hospital Foundation, Music In The Mountains or InConcert Sierra.
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