Legal 02

       


Wallace F. Gustafson

January 21, 1925 ~ September 10, 2018 (age 93)
Wallace Gustafson, age 93, of Spicer, died Monday, September 10, at the St. Cloud Hospital.



Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Friday, September 21, at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar. Burial will be at Fairview Cemetery in Willmar. Visitation will be 4-6 p.m. Thursday, September 20, at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home and will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Firday. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Vinje Lutheran Church or Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.
 

Wallace Frank Gustafson was born on January 21, 1925 on the farm in Palmyra Township, Renville County, Minnesota to Frank and Annie (Anderson) Gustafson, the youngest of three children. He was baptized and confirmed at the Palmyra Swedish Covenant Church. He learned hard work and perseverance on the farm; there was no running water or electricity until May of 1942. He loved 4-H and enjoyed attending a one-room country school through the 8th grade. He was fortunate as by that time there was a public school bus which allowed him to attend and graduate from Bird Island High School in 1942. He attended the University of Minnesota where he studied business law and worked three jobs to make ends meet.

Wally enlisted in the United States Navy on January 20, 1943 and received his education and training at Lawrence, Columbia and Harvard Universities. On April 28, 1945 he was appointed by Admiral William F. Halsey, Commanding Officer of the Pacific Third Fleet to his staff. Wally was present at the signing of the Surrender of the Japanese to end World War II in the Pacific aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. He was honorably discharged on August 5, 1946. He was the last known surviving officer of Admiral Halsey’s personal staff at the time of his death.

Wally’s father, Pa immigrated to America from Sweden at the age of 15 via a one-way ticket and arrived in Hector, Minnesota with 15 cents in his pocket in 1892. Wally believed in knowing his heritage and made his first trip to Sweden in the Summer of 1949. He lived with Pa’s relatives on the farm and learned to speak Swedish. He brought Pa back to Sweden and in later years brought his family including his grandchildren on numerous occasions. Wally was gratified when his Swedish relatives in turn visited him in Minnesota and the Swedish connection continues in the third generation.

Wally resumed his studies at the University of Minnesota where he received degrees in Business Administration and Law in 1950 and began the practice of law at the Lauerman Law Office in Olivia. Wally met Donna Hodapp at a Young Republicans’ convention and they were married in Willmar on June 4, 1955 which he credits as the best decision he ever made. They moved to Willmar in 1956 and he started his own law practice in 1962 which eventually became the Gustafson and Waechter Law Office. His daughter, Ann joined the practice in 1985.

Wally and Donna built their home on Meadow Lane in Willmar and enjoyed summers at the cottage on Green Lake. They loved to entertain on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Wally purchased land that was to become The Ranch in 1972. He raised Polled Hereford and Scotch Highland cattle, planted hundreds of trees, native prairie grasses and wild flowers and erected over 150 bluebird houses. Wally and Donna believed in stewardship of the land and placed the property with the Minnesota Land Trust.  Wally and Donna moved to the Lake in 1987.

Wally believed in public service and was a member of countless civic, professional, fraternal and wildlife organizations. He was elected and served 5 terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1963-1972. He served for a time as the Assistant Majority Leader. Of his many accomplishments while in the Legislature he was most proud of bringing the local junior college and vo-tech under the wing of the State to ensure the schools’ continued economic survival and to preserve the opportunity for local high school graduates to pursue further education and training in the community; being the chief author of a law which permitted the construction of sewer systems outside of organized villages and cities which paved the way for the installation of sewer systems around Eagle and Green Lakes which he spearheaded, and serving as the chairman of the Legislative Watchdog Committee dedicated to reducing red tape and increasing efficiency in state government. In 1981 he was awarded the Minnesota Bar Association Judicial Administration award for his efforts as chief author of the law which recognized our lower courts in Minnesota.

Wally loved practicing law. He knew how to make things happen and get things done. He was a wise and trusted advisor.  Matters were resolved with a handshake as his word was his bond. He was the expert on Minnesota township law and traveled the state organizing and presenting “short courses” to township officers and lawyers practicing township law. He served for many years as the attorney for the Minnesota Association of Townships and was the President of the National Association of Town and Township Attorneys from 1985-1993.

In 1990 Wally was invited to spend 9 days in Warsaw, Poland to assist Polish officials and members of Parliament in redesigning their government to transition from communism to democracy. 

Wally loved to travel especially by ship and brought his children and grandchildren on cruises all over the world, most recently over Christmas 2017.

Wally believed anything was possible with knowledge, hard-work and perseverance and believed in the value of a formal education and the School of Hard Knocks. He was enthusiastic, had a great sense of humor, was kind and compassionate and a life-long learner.  He connected with people throughout his life because he listened, asked a thousand questions and cared enough to remember. He was an outstanding leader, parent and grandparent.

Wally believed he was the luckiest guy in the world and was very thankful for his many blessings. He believed in God and the American Dream.

He was mentally sharp to the end passing away peacefully on September 10, 2018 with his daughters by his side at St. Cloud Hospital.

Wally was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Chester, his sister, Evelyn and his Wife, Donna in October 2015 and is survived by his daughters, Ann Marie Gustafson of Spicer and her children, Wallace Ann Gustafson and Frank C. Gustafson, and Sarah (Gary) Turnquist of Maple Grove and their children, Dr. Aaron J. Turnquist and Emily J. Turnquist.

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

Visitation

 

SEP 20. 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

Peterson Brothers Funeral Home

700 Becker Avenue Southwest

Willmar, MN, US, 56201

 

Order Flowers for the Visitation Guaranteed delivery before Wallace's
Visitation begins.

 

Visitation

 

SEP 21. 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Vinje Lutheran Church

1101 Willmar Avenue SW

Willmar, MN, US, 56201

 

[email protected]

http://www.vinjechurch.com

Order Flowers for the Visitation Guaranteed delivery before Wallace's
Visitation begins.

 

Funeral Service

 

SEP 21. 11:00 AM

Vinje Lutheran Church

1101 Willmar Avenue SW

Willmar, MN, US, 56201

 

[email protected]

http://www.vinjechurch.com

Order Flowers for the Funeral Service Guaranteed delivery before Wallace's
Funeral Service begins.

 

 

 

Cemetery Details

Fairview Cemetery
Gorton Avenue NW
Willmar, MN, 56201
 

 


Donations may be made to:

Vinje Lutheran Church
1101 Willmar Avenue SW, Willmar MN 56201
Tel: 1-320-235-1441
Email: vinje@vinjechurch.com
Web: http://www.vinjechurch.com/

Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center
12718 10th Street NE, Spicer MN 56288
Tel: 1-320-354-5894
Email: pwelc@co.kandiyohi.mn.us
Web: http://www.prairiewoodselc.org/


 Service Program

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