A chariot of angels descended upon Baudette, Minn., Sunday, May 31, 2020, to escort Rhoda Giles Laughy on her heavenly journey.
Waiting and singing gloriously were her husband, John Laughy; mother Lillian Cochran Giles; father Lloyd Giles; brother George (Violet) Giles and sister Majorie (Ray) Stepnes; three daughters, Kathryn Gruben Pranke, Garnet Smith and Joan Undahl; and sons-in-law Norman Undahl, Ulysses Smith, Gary Pranke and Roger Gruben.
Her daughter, Carol, remembers Mom and Dad dancing and when she heard that the last song Mom heard was “I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You,” by Alan Jackson, she just knew when Mom and Dad met once again, they danced across Heaven as their Heavenly Family watched. What a fantastic reunion.
Descendant from a Scottish sea captain, as well as the hard-working and steady pioneer stock of the Red River Settlement of North Dakota and Canada, and the rugged French-Canadian trappers and Metis ancestry, Rhoda L. Giles Laughy was born July 25, 1914, at Drayton, N.D. The second child of Lloyd and Lillian Cochran Giles joined brother George and sister Marjorie Stepnes to make up the family. She also leaves a half-sister, Eileen Harpell. Her passing ends the last of her generation, leaving the next teetering on the edge to do as well as they can without her love and guidance.
Rhoda married John Laughy on June 6, 1936, in Warroad, Minn. Making their home on a farm in Baudette, they raised five daughters, Marjorie Joan Undahl, Maureen Laughy, Garnet Smith, Carol Mattison and Kathryn Gruben Pranke. With hard work, faith, love and tribulations, their girls had a good start when they were ready to continue on with their own lives.
As empty nesters, John and Rhoda first moved to Minneapolis, Minn., then to Vacaville, Calif., to be near daughter Kathryn and Lillian Giles. After John died in 1979, Rhoda and her mother continued to live together until Lillian’s death in 1991. When Kathy died in 2011, Rhoda moved to Lewiston, living near Garnet until Garnet’s death in 2014. In 2015, Rhoda once again came home to Baudette. Great-granddaughter Izzy Calvin helped with this move and was happy to tell one and all about her 100-year-old Grandma Laughy. Every tourist heard about Mom, per Izzy. Rhoda resided at the CHI Care Center fully enjoying the care, activities and visits from old and new friends and family.
At her 105th birthday in 2019, a party of more than 100 people helped her celebrate the day. Even five American Legion bikers from Wisconsin came to sing and wish her happy birthday.
She was a member of the Retired Federal Employees, Moose Lodge Life Member, International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS), and the Linwood Laughy American Legion Auxiliary (named after her brother-in-law).
Her interest in handwriting analysis (IGAS) lead to lecturing, teaching and entertaining others. Her family was often reluctant to write letters in case she analyzed them, but she never did. She just enjoyed the news of the family and information each letter gave. Rhoda’s interest in genealogy had her interviewing family members. Multiple notepads, calendars, slips of paper, along with yearly journals, stored information. At every reunion or gathering, Rhoda was making notes of talked-about tidbits, leaving behind a store of personal information and stories from each family member she could corner. The stories she could and did tell kept all entertained at each gathering.
Rhoda traveled around the U.S., Hawaii, Alaska and Canada, keeping a journal of each trip. An East Coast trip in her 80s found her driving a duck boat into the ocean. Never one to say no to an outing, she went ice fishing up until she was 105. “If the bus leaves, I am on it,” she stated to one and all.
Survivors are Maureen Laughy, of Minneapolis, Carol and Ken Mattison, of Fairbanks, Alaska; grandchildren Howard Smith and Sarah Livingston, Scott (Flossy) Smith, Jon Smith and Gwen Smith, Wade (Tonya) Mattison, Bret (Erin) Gruben and Stephanie Gruben; 12 great-grandchildren; nine great-great-grandchildren; sister Eileen Harrell; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.