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Todd Helmer LaValley

March 16, 2020 | 12 comments

Todd Helmer LaValley, age 65, of Black River Falls, passed away March 11, 2020, at the Black River Memorial Hospital following a courageous fight against cancer. He was born on December 16, 1954, to Wendell and Lillian LaValley. Todd was educated in the Black River Falls school system and graduated from high school in the Class of 1973.

Following his graduation from high school, among other employers, Todd worked for LaValley’s Phillips 66 Service Station, Jensen Metals, and Market and Johnson. He created and operated Longhorn Builders, a construction and remodeling business that included new homes, additions, remodeling, offices, roofing, sheds, garages, fireplaces, concrete, and stonework. When work slowed down in the winter, Todd spent many hours honing his wood carving skills making duck decoys, bird carvings, and Norwegian kubbestols – cylindrical wooden high-back chairs fashioned from a single pine log and carved with traditional Viking symbols and, sometimes, rosemaled. His chairs have been on public display at the Jackson County Bank and at the Mt. Horeb Trading Company.

Those who knew Todd well, knew of his love for his family and friends, his skill as a story teller, his love of hunting and fishing, the fact that he was a good cook and a gracious host, his phenomenal memory as local historian, his mathematical wizardry, his love of music, and his never-ending sense of humor. He loved to make people laugh.

Todd was a wonderful son, brother, uncle, companion, and friend. His friendships spanned all walks of life. He was a funny, kind, warm-hearted man upon whom many relied for sustenance and solace. He will be missed.

Todd was preceded in death by: his parents, Wendell and Lillian LaValley; his sister, Shawn; his paternal grandparents, Joseph and Emma LaValley; and his maternal grandparents, Engemar Helmer and Marie Molde. He is survived by: his sister, Wendy LaValley of Brattleboro, VT; his brother, Kevin LaValley (Kristin Berg) of Black River Falls; his nephew, Soren LaValley (whom he adored) and great-nephew Haakon LaValley, both of Black River Falls; the love of his life, Diane Thomas Carroll of Red Wing, MN; his cousins; and many caring friends.

Coulee Region Cremation Group in Onalaska is assisting the family with the arrangements. Todd’s family and friends are planning a memorial celebration of his life to be held at a later date. In memory of Todd, his family requests that memorials be sent to: Friends Sharing Food, P.O. Box 344, Black River Falls.





    • Wendy LaValley

      LouAnn, Todd could not have been more fortunate than to have you as his friend. From all the times the two of you spent together over the years, to the many delicious homemade meals and treats you made for him, to the thoughtful ways you helped him throughout this final leg of his journey, Todd knew what a special person you are and he appreciated everything you did for him. Kevin and I do, too. We will be forever grateful to you and we look forward to the future, knowing you will always be a part of our lives. Wendy

  2. Gail Ventura

    May all your precious memories bring you solace in the sad times to come . My best to you and your family.

    • Wendy LaValley

      Thank you, Gail. That means a lot to us.

  3. Sandy Pagniucci

    Although I never met Todd I feel I knew him from the many stories you shared. The obituary is beautiful as I’m sure the memorial service will be. My heart goes out to you and your family and all those who miss him. May your collective memories keep him alive for all of you. Hugs, Sandy

    • Wendy LaValley

      Thank you, Sandy. We appreciate your kind thoughts. You would have liked Todd. I’m sorry he didn’t have the opportunity to meet you. He would have liked you, as well. I can easily imagine him sitting around your fire and chiming in on just about any topic that came up for discussion. He was a bright, kind, and interesting guy. We miss him terribly but believe we are already receiving indications that he is doing okay . . .

  4. Dawn Lauscher

    I met Todd many years ago when my life was falling apart, he took me in, and help me heal, made me feel safe, sang to me, cooked for me, made some awesome fires for me, and for that ill always be grateful to him, I will miss u Todd, I just wish I could have told you all this, but I hope u knew how much u meant to me then and still, fly high my friend, until we meet again, love you.

    • Wendy LaValley

      Dawn, thank you for sharing your memories of Todd. We appreciate it. Don’t ever worry that he didn’t know how much he meant, and still, means to you. Todd knows . . . I called LouAnn to see if she had your contact information because I wanted to let you know about Todd’s memorial celebration. She told me she had already spoken with you about it. I hope you’ll be able to join us to remember and celebrate Todd’s life. We’ll have a fire going all day and night long. I look forward to seeing you there.

  5. Eugene P Brown

    My condolences to Wendy and Kevin on the passing of Todd. I didn’t know his was fighting cancer. I hadn’t seen him for a few years. Had a lot of fun times with Todd as well as working together years ago. When i was building my house Todd would come out every weekend and help me with the project. He was a very giving person, always smiling. Sorry to hear of his passing. Gene Brown

    • Wendy LaValley

      Gene, how nice to see your name! It’s been a long time . . . Kevin, Diane, and I were just talking about you and Todd the other night. We wanted to include your previous work together in Todd’s obituary but for the life of us, we couldn’t remember what you guys used to call yourselves. Please know that we didn’t forget about you. I don’t know where you are or what you’re up to these days, but it sure would be great to see you, if there is any way you could be at Todd’s memorial celebration.

      • Mike Doud

        The name that the boys went by was, “The Barcelona Framers.” Named after the Olympics.

  6. Nina McLean

    Oh Wendy, Lisa, Kevin, Kris, and Soren, I am just so sorry to hear of Todd’s passing. I only met Tod a couple of times but remember him as being funny and full of life. We love you and are sending healing thoughts to you all.
    Love, Nina and John


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