July 25, 2019
Tamara (Tammy) Jean Luhman, 53, of Hutchinson passed away at her home July 25, after a long battle with chronic illness and cancer. A celebration of Tammy’s life will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, in Bethlehem United Methodist Church, 665 Miller Ave. S.W., in Hutchinson, followed by an informal gathering in her backyard, directly behind the church, among the flowers she loved so much.
She was born Tamara Jean LaFraniere Dec. 24, 1965, to Donna Mae Dunn, and at the age of 5 was legally adopted by Hillar Viljaste. She graduated with honors from St. Anthony Village High School in 1984 in St. Anthony.
Tamara married Steve Luhman Oct. 15, 1988, in Howard Lake. They were divorced in June 1998.
She attended Ridgewater College in Hutchinson, graduating with an A.A.S. degree in mechanical drafting in March 2000. She became a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and was elected as “Who’s Who Among American Junior Colleges.”
She loved Hutchinson and it became her adopted hometown after moving there in 2001.
Tammy volunteered for the American Red Cross in disaster services beginning in 2000, becoming a board member, then director of disaster services and helped in many disaster relief operations within the state of Minnesota (house fires, wildfires, floods and tornadoes). In December 2001, she became administrative coordinator in charge of fundraising and public relations, as well as continuing in disaster services until 2004.
As her health began failing and she lost her ability to work outside of the home, she reached out to others who were also chronically ill and tried to help those who were suicidal. She also spread awareness for medical conditions that took her health, and pushed for exposure and funding to give viable treatments or cures.
Tammy was a gifted writer and had multiple published articles. She also wrote poetry, short stories, and started a couple novels as well as a self-help book for those living with chronic illness.
She embraced art in all forms and was self-taught in knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, calligraphy, beading, felting, needlework, gardening, card making and much more. Art and crafts helped keep her distracted from the suffering and loneliness of chronic illness.
The things she loved most in life were horseback riding, shooting, hiking, bonfires, gardening, art and crafts, writing, music of all kinds, baking, sitting with Mike and Bill on the deck at the lake house on Lake Washington, and spending time on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Even in the face of her illnesses, Tammy tried to live life to the fullest. She loved learning and exploring and always had some sort of project going on, with many more in the planning stages.
She is survived by her best friend, Mike Engel of Hutchinson; two sons, Ryan Luhman and Jason Luhman, both of Hutchinson; biological father Ron Dahmen; sisters, Lisa Post (Drew), Jessica Viljaste and Marie Dahmen Page (Roger); brothers, Jameson Viljaste (Deanna), Aaron Dahmen (Jeny), Jeremy Dahmen (Tracy) and Christopher Dahmen; and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her mother Donna Dunn; father Hillar Viljaste; grandparents, Harold Duncan, Evelyn Duncan, Alfred Viljaste, Leida Viljaste, Auraelia Larson and Bill Dahmen; nephew Jonah Johnson; several aunts and uncles; and her pup Ellie.
In lieu of flowers and gifts, please consider making a donation to Dysautonomia International (dysautonomiainternational.org) or The Breast Cancer Foundation (komen.org).