It's been a tradition for two generations of Minnesotans traveling up the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior: planning a pie break at Betty's Pies outside Two Harbors.
Betty Lessard, the legendary baker who built a small empire based on flaky crust, generous fillings and mouth-watering meringue, died Thursday at Duluth's Benedictine Health Center, according to Scott Storms, her nephew. Duluth's FOX21 said that she had been in the nursing home for the past six months.
"She did have a great life,'' he told the Duluth News Tribune.
Just last August, Betty was on duty at the restaurant that bears her name as she celebrated her 90th birthday.
Lessard became famous for her pie recipes and her restaurant on Highway 61 along Lake Superior's North Shore.
A native of northern Minnesota, Lessard began helping her father at a fish shack along the North Shore highway in 1956. The family sold Lake Superior trout and herring.
She added a few pies to the offerings at the stand, starting with a strawberry pie recipe she found in the newspaper. WDIO noted that "...soon the pies became more popular than the fish, and Betty's Pies was born." (By the way, that exact strawberry pie is still dished up at the restaurant.)
Lessard sold the restaurant and retired in 1984. In 1997, another set of owners came in and asked Betty to bring back her original recipes. She did, and Betty's thrived once again.
A memorial service is planned for April 6 at Sunrise Cemetery and Funeral Home in Hermantown.