Edward John Gjesdal
On July 17, 2019, my father, Edward John Gjesdal, passed away. He was born in Westby, MT, on August 8, 1920, and was almost 99 years old. He was an amazing man, and I miss him terribly. My dad lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, two Middle East Wars, and all the other conflicts in which this great nation participated. He farmed wheat in Montana when some farmers were still using mules to pull their combines. He worked on cars and even worked on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation during the Manhattan Project. He watched the news in horror when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and in wonder when the United States put a man on the moon. His trade skills were incredible, and he could put together an engine or build a house with little trouble. When he married my mom, Helen Gjesdal, in the early 40’s, they left the tiny town of Grenora, ND, with only a 1937 Chevy and $300. Their only plan was to drive west to find their fortune. They eventually settled in Kennewick, WA, where he was an auto body repairman and owned his own business.
As a family man, he was second to none. He and my mom adopted me when I was six days old. I remember he would work all day and do occasional odd jobs to make sure his family was cared for. They bought a piece of raw vacation property in the Cascades near Packwood, WA. Dad cleared it and built a small cabin by hand. Yet, he still found time to play with me, read me the comics out of the newspaper, and make sure I felt secure and loved. On the weekends, we would all go fishing or hunting depending on the season. Every other Friday, he would make time to take my mom out for dinner and dancing. They were married almost 70 years. As I got older, he supported me entirely. He and my mom made sure I went to college. They sat patiently by when I joined the service and was overseas during our two Middle Eastern wars and then chose a civilian career in law enforcement. He was equally patient as I fumbled through life and relationships, no doubt wondering “What ARE you doing?” It was a good thing God gave him the gift of a sense of humor. Dad really loved us. As I write this and reflect, it almost seems superhuman, and I know I’ve fallen far short of his standards.
My dad was preceded in death by my mom, Helen. He is survived by me and my wife, Jen, who he accepted as a daughter. He also has two grandchildren: my son, Alex, and my daughter, Emily.
Services will be held at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Packwood, WA, on September 14, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the Packwood Senior Center, 12931 US-12, Packwood, WA.
I want to personally thank anyone who has taken the time to read this and can appreciate the life of my dad. He was a member of the greatest generation that ever lived, and we should honor the seniors who are still with us who share that distinction.