Obituary for Hilmar Frode Lassen (written by Gayle Sargent Lassen, Daughter-in-law)
Hilmar Frode Lassen, 98, died November 11, 2012 after a long and remarkable life.
He was born May 8, 1914 in Aalborg Denmark, where he lived with his father and brother after his mother contracted tuberculosis and was sent to live elsewhere. He did not remember her at all. Because of this he had many early responsibilities at home. After he fulfilled the schooling requirements at age 14, he left home to become a seaman, joining the Danish Merchant Marine. He travelled the world on all kinds of ships, first as a captain’s boy, a cook, and later worked up the ranks. He always retained a great love of sailing, and would sometimes rent sailboats in the Santa Barbara harbor to sail for the day. At age 25 he left the life of a seaman to marry his sweetheart, Oda Helene Nielsen. They married on April15, 1939.
Hilmar and Oda worked together in various businesses as they began their family. Three daughters (Birthe, Ida, and Doris) and a son (John) were born to them in Denmark, where Hilmar worked at the shipping docks, they had a small dairy and grocery store, and where they later had a business making canvas tarps.
When the German army occupied Denmark in World War II, Hilmar and Oda had their small dairy and grocery store. They were part of the Danish Resistance (the Underground) and they stuffed anti-Nazi fliers into the grocery bags of sympathetic customers. They had some close calls when the SS troops questioned them, and once when they came into their apartment building, looking for a leader in the Underground and for illegal weapons. The weapons, which belonged to the Underground,
were hidden in the children’s beds, and the children were instructed to cry and make a fuss if the SS troops came into their bedrooms. Luckily a neighbor did not give away the identity of the Lassens, and the weapons were not discovered.
In 1948 the Lassen family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and then three years later immigrated to the United States. Hilmar was chagrined that he got seasick for the first time in his life. He always said that sailing to America was a rough trip, and he blamed John, who at one year old was afraid to stand on the rolling deck. Hilmar said he carried John across the Atlantic Ocean. After a brief stop in Salt Lake City, the family moved to Southern California, where Hilmar became a brick and stonemason. He eventually earned his
Contractor’s License and built many beautiful brick and stone fireplaces, walls, and custom homes. He loved to take a Sunday drive to show his children and grandchildren his handiwork all around Southern California.
The Lassen family welcomed three more children to their family in America—Anna, Peter, and James. The family became American citizens in 1960. In 1964 they moved to Camarillo, where Hilmar had built a custom home. Hilmar continued his masonry business, and in 1971 they opened the first Lassen’s Health Food Store on Pickwick Drive. This family business has grown to eleven stores.
Hilmar and Oda served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to their native Denmark in 1982-1983, where they served in many leadership positions, as well as helped many people.
After returning home, they sold their two stores to their children, but got bored with retirement. They opened another store in Simi Valley and operated it for several years before selling it to their children.
Hilmar has been a remarkable and steady influence on his family members. He was a gentle and reasonable father, who gave wise counsel to his children over many years. He also served faithfully in many callings in the LDS Church. He stayed active and independent until the last few months of his life.
Hilmar is survived by Oda, his wife of 73 years, his seven children and their spouses, Birthe (Bob) Shadle of Massillon, Ohio; Ida (Boyd) Chugg of Burley, Idaho; Doris (Clarke) Nielsen of Camarillo; John (Debi) Lassen of Camarillo; Anna (Craig)
Flanagan of Las Vegas, Nevada; Peter (Gayle) Lassen of Camarillo; and James (Susan) Lassen of O’Fallon, Missouri. He also leaves behind 28 grandchildren, and 46 great-grandchildren. Two grandchildren, David Shadle and Jadalyn Flanagan
preceded him in death. We will all miss you, Bedstefar.
A viewing will be held on Saturday, November 17 from 9:30-10:30 with the Funeral
Services following at 11:00 am.
The viewing and services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Center, 4345 Los Posas Blvd, Camarillo CA.