John 'Gordy' Askew
John 'Gordy' Askew
John Gordon Askew, 96, Wadena, MN, known to his friends and relatives as "Gordy," died peacefully at Fair Oaks Lodge on Friday, September 22, 2017, surrounded by his loving family.
The Askew family settled in the Wadena area in 1875 as part of the Furness Colony from England. His mother's family, the Throndson's, settled in the Underwood area of Otter Tail county from Norway in the 1880's.
Gordy was born June 24, 1921, in Casselton, ND, the son of Wilfred Lawson Askew and Selma Throndson Askew. Wilfred and Selma along with his two brothers farmed 3 sections of land near Casselton. The operation required 150 horses to get all of the work done. Three years of straight drought, however, would force the family off the farm and back to Wadena, where Gordy's parents were part owners of the family-operated Commercial Hotel, a Wadena fixture.
Gordy graduated from Wadena High School in 1939, and briefly attended Carleton College, Northfield, and Northwestern University while also working in Chicago. He was drafted into the US Army in August of 1942. While home on leave he married his sweetheart Geraldine Cecilia Stuntebeck, Nov. 12, 1943, at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Wadena, after which they returned to Gordy's post, Alamogordo Army Air Base, NM. His WWII service lasted until 1946. At Alamogordo he was in personnel classification and was part of the team that assigned the flight crew for the Enola Gay.
Returning to Wadena after the war, Gordy and Geri ventured into business, owning the Blue Grass store and operating a wholesale beer route; meanwhile, Gordy helped start the Wadena National Guard unit. As a National Guardsman, Gordy was again called to active duty during the Korean War, stationed in Wisconsin and North Carolina, 1950-51.
Returning to civilian life, he was a salesman at the Gambles Store and then became a partner in the Folkestad Furniture store before joining the Wadena Post Office part time in 1956. He quickly rose to Post Master in 1961, appointed by President John F. Kennedy and served in that position until he retired in April of 1983 at the age of 62.
Gordy served 18 years on the Wadena City Council; the Community Action Council Board; Knights of Columbus, American Legion and the National Association of Postmasters.
Gordy was truly small-town Minnesota. He loved his church, his coffee clubs, Wadena, the DFL party, being with his family at Big Pine Lake, dancing with the Whirlaways Square Dance club, staying connected to friends, serving his country, and watching his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren participate in school events. He loved giving treats to people, especially the workers at Fair Oaks Lodge.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Wilfred and Selma Askew; a granddaughter, Desiree Kraemer Askew; four brothers: Clyde, Manfred, Russell and William; three sisters, Alma Loso, Mildred Heinz and Lucille Fanson.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Geraldine, Wadena; one son, Stephen (Carol), Big Pine Lake; four daughters: Susan (Dennis) Pearsall, Spring Lake Heights, NJ; Janet (Mike) Parta, Big Pine Lake; Rita, Wadena; Teresa (Ann Garvey), St. Paul.
Twelve grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren. Grandchildren include: Jennifer (James) Arno, Perham; Jessica (David Galle) Askew, Minneapolis, MN., Christopher (Tiffany) Parta, Beaverton, OR, Erika (Tyrone) Suhr, St. Anthony, MN, Abigail Parta, South St. Paul MN, Hillary (Christopher Knapp) Askew, St. Paul, MN, Daniel (Erin) Pearsall, Brick, NJ, Luke Pearsall, Denver, CO, Alexandra Askew (Kellen) Feeney, St. Paul, MN, Anne Pearsall, Conshohocken, PA, Hannah Kraemer Askew, Denver, CO. Great-grandchildren include: Aaron Arno, John (Jack) Galle, Russell (Anthony) Arno, Ariel Arno, Liam Parta, Pavan Suhr, Leighton Gossman, Asher Suhr, Molly Pearsall, Daniel Parta, Lilianna Gossman, Grady Pearsall, Edith Knapp. Funeral mass will be held for Gordy on Friday, September 29, 2017, with internment in the Wadena Cemetery.
Please visit www.karvonenfuneralhome.com to leave a message of comfort and support for Gordy's family.