Gene Watnaas Obituary

Gene  Watnaas
Gene Watnaas

June 16, 1930 - August 8, 2017
Born in Vining, MN
Resided in Alexandria, MN


Gene Gaylord Watnaas, 87 of rural Vining died Tuesday, August 8, 2017, at the Knute Nelson Care Center in Alexandria,surrounded by his loved ones. Funeral Service will be 1:00 pm, Saturday, August 12th at Folden Lutheran Church of rural Vining. Visitation will be 5 to 7 pm Friday, with a 6:30 pm Prayer Service, at Glende-Nilson Funeral Home in Battle Lake and one hour prior to the service on Saturday. Interment will be in the church cemetery.
Gene Gaylord Watnaas was born on June 16, 1930, at home in Folden Township, rural Vining, Minnesota the son of Gunder G. and Edith Grace (Thompson) Watnaas. He was baptized on July 20, 1930, in the Folden Lutheran Church and confirmed in the church on July 19, 1943, both by Pastor J.L. Drage. He attended Rural School District #265 in Folden Township and graduated from the Henning High School in 1947. After high school he moved to Fergus Falls and got a job with Montgomery Ward and Company selling paint and furniture and in July started with the First National Bank and Trust Company (later known as Norwest Bank) as a bookkeeper.

Gene and Kathryn Gaarsland were married on November 7, 1953, in the United Lutheran Church in Henning, Minnesota. The couple farmed near Vining until Gene entered the U.S Army on October 21, 1954, he was stationed in Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, Ft. Huachuca in Arizona. He was discharged on July 27, 1956, and honorably discharged from the Army Reserves on October 31, 1962. They returned to Vining, then Pease, Minnesota before moving to Starbuck where they resided for seventeen years. He was employed with Vining Creamery, Pease Creamery in Mille Lacs County, was Manager of Starbuck Creamery, and in 1982, they moved back to the home farm by Vining and Gene started with the American Dairy Association of Minnesota where he worked until his retirement on August 1, 1992. He had the Gene Watnaas Scholarship named after him through the UMDIA (a dairy scholarship). He had been a member of the Starbuck Lions serving on several committees and had served as Club President, Zone Chairman and Deputy District Governor. Gene had served on the Starbuck City Council for several terms and was elected Mayor in 1970, belonged to the Chamber of Commerce serving two terms as President. He was instrumental in bringing Region 5 Dairy Days to Starbuck and was Chairman for many years. Gene also served on Starbuck Area Development Board of Directors and worked hard to bring television channels to Pope County. Gene served on the Folden Lutheran Church Board as a deacon, attended Men's Bible Study and served as an usher. He served on the Church Council as treasurer. After moving to Vining,Gene was involved in many organizations including Sons of Norway,the Henning Lions, Folden Township, 55 Alive, UMDIA, and the Folden Church as a Sunday school teacher, church council member, treasurer and cemetery board member.

Gene enjoyed listening to old time music, watching the Minnesota Vikings, cutting wood back on the farm, clipping newspaper articles and geneology.

He is survived by seven children, Linda (Dennis) O'Neill of Starbuck, Deb (Mark) Rau of Alexandria, Greg Watnaas of Stapleton, Alabama, Todd (Cheryl) Watnaas of Prinsburg, Tracey Lindberg of Fergus Falls, Kris (Ron) Hansen of Cyrus, Aric Watnaas of Osakis; twelve grandchildren, Leah (Jeremy) Newton, Michael (Vicki) Halvorson, Matthew and Brittany Rau, Amanda (Eric Skindelien) Watnaas, Dustin and Kyle (Michelle) Hentges, Riley (Karine) Lindberg, Tara (T.J.) Stoel, Kaitlyn (Kaiser) Starkey, Jordan Judd and Carter Watnaas; nine great-grandchildren, McKenzie and Zander Newton, Taylor and Kaylee Hentges, Bentley Skindelien, Aiden, Grant and Brooks Lieser and Kathryn Starkey; and by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends. Gene was preceded in death by his wife, Kathy on November 24, 2014; two sisters, Winnifred Demmer and Delores Watnaas; parents, Gunder and Edith Watnaas;brother-in-law OrvilleDemmer and a nephew, Larry Demmer.

Funeral arrangements are with Glende-Nilson Funeral Home of Battle Lake for Gene Gaylord Watnaas.

Gene's Video Tribute

Gene's Memorial Folder




Glende-Nilson Funeral Home (Battle Lake)
102 Lincoln Avenue
Battle Lake, MN US 56515
Friday, August 11, 2017
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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Folden Lutheran Church
Vining, MN
Saturday, August 12, 2017
1:00 PM
Folden Lutheran Church Cemetery
Vining, MN
Saturday, August 12, 2017