Lyle “Slats” Papenfuss, 78, passed away Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at Chosen Valley Care Center in Chatfield, Minn.
He was born Dec. 28, 1942, to Howard and Winnie (Greenwood) Papenfuss of La Crescent. Slats attended La Crosse Central High School where he was named to the AP All-State Basketball First Team in 1960. He was also selected to go to Boys State in Minnesota. He then attended Winona State College where he was a four-year starter in basketball and member of three Warrior NAIA college world series baseball teams. He was inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.
It was while attending Winona State that he met Inger-Lise (Lise) Fineid in of all places, the library. They would marry Aug. 3, 1963, at St. John Lutheran Church in Kasson, Minn.
Slats is survived by his wife, Lise; daughter, Lynn Graham; and son, Lance Papenfuss, all of Rochester, Minn.; brothers, Richard “Dick” (Mary) Santa Fe, N.M., and Larry (Dawn) Moorhead, Minn.; as well as, grandchildren, Cole Graham, Tore Papenfuss, Jack Papenfuss, and Brodie Papenfuss. He was preceded in death by his parents; his in-laws, Tore and Signe (Nordkvist) Fineid; and by grandson, Connor Graham.
Slats began his career in the insurance business with Federated Insurance in Owatonna Minn. He credited the early training and friendships he made there with his later success and for preparing him to take on a partnership in the C. O. Brown Agency in Rochester, spanning 37 years. Slats was truly a gentle man, his friendly manner and easy smile combined with a strong work ethic and competitive nature made him a well-liked and highly successful businessman. These same traits enabled him to form many lasting friendships among his teammates, classmates, colleagues, and customers.
Over the years he would serve on numerous boards for both businesses and charities. He would continue his athletic pursuits competing on fast pitch softball teams and basketball teams well into his 40s. He also loved coaching youth basketball teams and watching “his boys” go on to success in high school and college careers.
An avid sports fan, he especially enjoyed attending the Quarterback Club meetings in Rochester and cheering for the Green Bay Packers. Once, he even wrote a letter to Packer GM Ron Wolfe and was astonished when he got a personal phone call back from Mr. Wolfe addressing his concerns. But his greatest joy came from spending time watching grandchildren swim, fish, and play sports.
Slats enjoyed music and always had his favorite radio station tuned in. Slats and Lise loved spending time at their home in Lake City, often with friends, but especially together on the water and taking excursions on the boat. They were blessed to be able to travel, spending numerous winters in Florida, and making several trips to Norway.
The family wishes to express their appreciation to Chosen Valley Care Center, Hospice, Palliative Care, and Visiting Angels for their care and support.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Hospice or one’s charity of choice.
A private family graveside service will be held at South Zumbro Lutheran Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date.