61-year love story ends as longtime Minnesota teacher dies due to COVID-19

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A longtime Minnesota teacher is being remembered after he died from complications of COVID-19.

Roger Lehne, 93, formerly of Mahnomen, died last week, according to his family.

Lehne and his wife, Teresa, both caught the virus and were taken to different hospitals in Fargo, North Dakota.

“It’s been just devastating,” said Julie LaVoy, the couple’s niece who lives in Naytahwash, Minn. “When it [COVID-19] happens to your family and then to have both of them, it’s just incredibly sad.”

LaVoy said she was unable to visit her uncle in the VA Hospital due to restrictions for visitors because of COVID-19.

When Roger died on March 26, LaVoy said she had to video chat her aunt to let her know he passed away because that hospital also didn't allow visitors.

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“I never would have imaged I’d have to tell my auntie that her husband and her beloved of 60-plus years had passed,” LaVoy said. “And I’d have to do it like you and I, I’d have to FaceTime her.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Eric Chaloux spoke by video chat with LaVoy when she explained her aunt is expected to recover from her COVID-19 symptoms.

Roger and Teresa met while both teaching in Mahnomen and got married.

Roger worked as a teacher at the high school and assistant principal from 1956 until 1984.

“Everyone could go to him with problems," LaVoy said. "He was very beloved."

On Lehne’s memorial page at a Mahnomen funeral home, some former students have been sharing memories … one calling him “legendary.”

Lavoy said her uncle always told former students to call him ‘Roger’ when they left school, but none did, always calling him ‘Mr. Lehne.’

Before teaching, Lehne enlisted in the United States Navy at the end of World War II.

Memorial plans are on hold at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions.