VIROQUA, Wis. - Vida Loafman Driscoll, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and friend died in Viroqua, Wis., on Saturday, June 22, 2013. She was 98 years old and remained active, independent and alert up until the last few days of her life. Born on Jan. 20, 1915, to Martin and Elfrieda Freeman Loafman at Reading, near Worthington, Nobles County, Minn., she was the third of four siblings: Milo, Cleo and younger brother Russell. The family lived for a time in Wheatland, N.D., before moving to Sheldon, Iowa, where “Vi” graduated high school in 1932, and soon after worked for the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company as a “number please” operator, when one, two and three digit phone numbers connected people and informed of emergency situations. Vi, herself, proved a crucial lifeline for several callers in dire emergency situations.
In 1939, Vi married her high school sweetheart Paul H. Driscoll. He was a beloved and respected high school coach and teacher in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota, and was later mayor of Clarkfield, Minn. They shared 61 years of happy life together until Paul passed away in Viroqua in 2001. Together they raised three sons: Robert (Bob) Russell, Charles (Chuck) Loyd and John Paul. Also included in Vi and Paul’s immediate family is niece Gladys Noack Duckson.
Vi was a loving wife, caring mother, glittering friend, intrepid entrepreneur, consummate political activist and ardent football fan. She owned and operated dry cleaning establishments in Marshall and Clarkfield, ran the popular Vi’s Cafe in Clarkfield and founded Vi’s Uniform Shop in Brainerd, Minn. With her usual high energy and abundant good cheer, she redefined the uniform business with fashion merchandising, store decor and high level customer service. She set new industry standards and was recognized as a trendsetter by uniform manufacturers throughout the country.
As chair of the Clarkfield Housing Authority, Vi successfully fought to obtain the necessary funding and city and federal support that resulted in the construction of Valhalla, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) apartment complex, which provided homes for low income seniors, and was dedicated Sept. 19, 1971. Vice President Walter Mondale, spoke of Vi as “a futuristic thinker and one of the early activists to recognize the need for low cost housing for the elderly in the rural areas of America.”
Vi was an avid fan of high school and professional sports. She thoroughly understood the game of football and was a long time Minnesota Vikings fan, and in recent years, after moving to Wisconsin, was also a devoted Green Bay Packers supporter. Vi organized “Packer Parties” among the residents of Park View Plaza and wore her favorite sequined Packers jersey every Saturday during the football season. She founded a Walking Club for exercise and conviviality at Park View, where she lived for the last 12 years. The club measured the length of the building’s hallways and calculated walking distances to neighboring towns and beyond. Keeping track of steps and distance, Vi compiled enough steps to have “walked” to and from Minneapolis. Three days before her passing she tallied a mile of pedaling on a stationary bike.
Vi’s earliest memory was of the Armistice Celebration marking the end of World War I. As an adult, she wrote to presidents, senators and representatives and supported military troops with care packages of baked and useful goods and letters of encouragement from World War II to Afghanistan. She maintained a lively and abiding interest in current events, enjoyed telling stories and commenting on politics, and making and cherishing friendships wherever she lived. She was a Past Matron of Eastern Star, of which she was a member for over 50 years, and she mischievously enjoyed being a longtime member of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles.
Vi is survived by and will be deeply missed by her three sons and daughters-in-law, Bob, of Granite Falls, Minn., Chuck and Jean, of Viroqua, Wis., John and Marylyn, of New York City, and Gladys and Bob Duckson, of Burnsville, Minn. Vi also leaves grandchildren Daniel and Cindy, of Los Angeles, Amy, of Viroqua, Wis., Emily, of New York City, and Gillian, of Austin, Texas, as well as great-grandchildren Emilia, Isabel, Adeline, William and Owen Driscoll. Also surviving are nieces, Mary Olive (Gary) Japenga, of Sanborn, Iowa, Donna Plato, of San Francisco, Mary Ann Driscoll, of Corning, Calif.; and nephews, Chris Loafman, of Cupertino, Calif., Steve Driscoll, of Seattle, and Tom Driscoll, of San Francisco. Services will be announced at the convenience of the family.
The Vosseteig-Larson Funeral Home of Viroqua is serving the family.