Cecilia Plante, age 90, of Crookston, MN, passed away early Friday morning, December 10, 2021, in RiverView Health, Crookston, with her family at her side.
Cecilia Regina Merschman was born on February 22, 1931, to the union of Frank and Regina (Illies) Merschman of Bagley, Minnesota. She attended elementary and high school at Bagley graduating with the Class of 1949. Cecilia earned a teaching certificate after attending Normal Training in East Grand Forks 1949-1950. She then taught in a rural school near Gentilly, Minnesota. While there, she met her future husband, Dennis Plante. They were united in marriage on August 1,1951 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bagley, Minnesota. The newlyweds moved to their farm home near Crookston, Minnesota that same year. Cecilia taught for another year and a half in rural schools after their marriage before leaving in 1953 to join Dennis in Augusta, Georgia where he was stationed after being drafted into the US Army in November of 1952. Cecilia did substitute teaching at John Millidge School in Augusta. In 1953 Dennis was sent to Korea so Cecilia returned to Bagley expecting their first child. After the loss of their infant daughter, Belinda, she enrolled at Bemidji State College, graduating with an Associate degree in 1955. She then taught in the Minnesota communities of Ceylon, Bagley, Euclid and Crookston. Cecilia served as Director of the Polk County Day Activities Center for five years from 1965-1970 before returning to teaching for District 593, Crookston. Throughout her career, Cecilia continued taking college classes and in 1972 graduated from Moorhead State College with a Bachelor’s in Education. Her very proud husband, their seven children, and her mother were all in attendance for her graduation ceremony. Cecilia retired in the spring of 1993 after a long and rewarding 43-year career in education. She would later be called back to teach keyboarding to 6th graders while also volunteering with Chore Service for the Polk County Correction Center, Villa St. Vincent, Mount St. Benedict, RSVP, the Reader’s Theater, and Senior Surfer, while also serving as Secretary of the Agassiz Federal Credit Union Board.
In 2004 Cecilia and her friend, Gladys Boucher, started a group of like-minded women known as the Red Hat Group, going out for lunch once a month. They remained active until Covid-19 put an end to everything. Cecilia enjoyed attending international dinners at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. She joined the “friendship program” at the college which led to her befriending a student, Sam Sele, from Liberia, Africa, and the two remained in contact over the years.
Cecilia liked to travel and enjoyed studying and learning the different cultures while visiting Ireland, Quebec, the Canadian Rockies, Alaska, Hawaii, Rome, Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and most of the United States. She also enjoyed local excursions to the Mahnomen Casino with her friends which also came to an end with Covid. Each of her travels always included finding a local church to attend Mass. Cecilia still enjoyed playing many games with friends and family. She wrote her memoirs for her children which included a 74 page plus picture book. “I have continued to put my life into writings for family members to learn about the years of my life. Too often, we do not pass this information on. I hope you pass information of your life on to your children.”
Cecilia was a very faithful, God loving woman. “Faith, family and friends help you get through it - but keeping active by volunteering helps keep you healthy. You don’t have time to dwell on what could have been.”
Cecilia’s many accomplishments and memberships in church, civic organizations and offices held include Treasurer of the Crookston Education Association, Minnesota Education Association, membership in the National Education Association, Secretary and Youth Advisor of The ARC, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Villa St. Vincent Auxiliary, St. Peter’s Catholic Church - Council Chairman and Lecturer, President of the St. Anne’s Sodality, Catholic Daughter’s Court Bishop Schenk #2010 Regent and Vice-Regent, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Committee, Secretary of the Agassiz Federal Credit Union Board, the Merri Mixers Homemakers President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer, the West Polk Homemakers Council President and Vice President, Chairperson of the Norma Bigger Scholarship committee, was the C & G Rockettes Queen Mother, the UMC Friendship Program, Golden Link, REAM—-Retired Education Association of Minnesota, and was recipient of the Homemaker’s Exceptional Service Award in 1998, and honored as Crookston’s Experienced American in August, 2006.
Cecilia is lovingly survived by her 7 children: Renee Kjelaas of Grand Forks, ND, Marcia (Jeff) Sands of Bemidji, MN, Diana Plante (Steve Gist) of Apple Valley, MN, Beth Capistran of Luverne, MN, Randy Plante of Crookston, MN, Todd Plante of New Brighton. MN, and Kyle (Robin) Plante of Brandon, SD; 12 grandchildren: Matthew Bratvold of Luther, OK, Justin Bratvold of Colorado, JoDanna (DJ) Castle of the Bahamas, Logan (Jackie) Kalinowski of Thief River Falls, MN, Marae Blazejewski (Tyler) of Wasilla, AK, Erica (Mick) Brown of Hannah, ND, Ben (Jamie) Maygra of Grand Forks, ND, Megan Maygra of La Center, WA, Mason Capistran (Courtney) of Sioux Falls, SD, Aidan Capistran of Luverne, MN, and Ellie Plante and Emma Plante of Brandon, SD; 13 great-grandchildren: Kayla (Josh) Adams of Grand Forks, ND, Max and Brett Brown of Hannah, ND, Hannah, Brady, and Bryson Maygra of Grand Forks, ND, Lauren and Brian Bratvold of Luther, OK, Cole and Seth Bratvold of Elk River, MN, Kennedi Kalinowski and Tallon Vorderbruggen of Thief River Falls, MN, Brigan Briola, La Center, WA and Rosemary Capistran of Sioux Falls, SD; and 3 great-great grandchildren: Mollie Jane Anderson, and Landyn and Jadelyn Adams, all of Grand Forks, ND.
Cecilia also leaves 2 brothers, Kenneth (Audrey) Merschman of Bemidji, and Gary (Linda) Merschman of Bagley, MN; 4 sisters-in-law: Gloria Merschman and Judy Merschman of Bagley, MN, Lenore Perreault of Grand Rapids, MN, and Monica (Larry) Beauchene of The Villages, FL; and 3 brothers-in-law: Lowell (Joyce) Plante of Idaho, Jim Plante of Red Lake Falls, MN, and Ralph Schmitz of Minneapolis, MN; and former son-in-law Geno Kalinowski.
Cecilia is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Dennis; infant daughter, Belinda Kay; son-in-law Bruce Kjelaas; grandson, Adam Yohn; parents, Frank and Regina Merschman; parents-in-law, Ovilla and Annette Plante; 3 brothers: Gene, Leroy, and Larry Merschman; sister-in-law, Lois Merschman; 2 brothers-in-law: Merle (Irene) Plante and Keith (Karen) Plante; and sister-in-law, Eileen Baird. Blessed be the memory of Cecilia Regina Plante.
Mass of Christian Burial for Cecilia Plante will be held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, MN, at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 14, 2021, with The Rev. Joe Richards and The Rev. David Super, celebrants. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the funeral. The service will be livestreamed by logging on to www.crookstoncathedral.com and clicking on the prompt to view. Burial will be in St. Peter’ Cemetery, Gentilly, MN, in the Spring of 2022. In lieu of flowers memorials may be given in memory of Cecilia to a charity of choice. .