Earl Frank Gifford, age 95, of Cokato, passed away Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, at his home.
He was born Oct. 26, 1921, in Brown County, Comfrey, MN, the son of Frank and Electa Mae (Jackett) Gifford. Earl was baptized as an infant at the Catholic church in Comfrey, and was later confirmed in his faith as a youth at Saint Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Mankato.
Earl received his education through the 10th grade at Mankato Loyola Catholic School in Mankato.
He was also a part of the Civilian Conservation Corps Program in Grand Marais.
Earl entered active military service in the United States Navy March 2, 1942, and served his country during World War II on the USS Fanshaw Bay as an aviation radio operator. He received an honorable discharge Oct.22, 1945, and was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat. He was a very proud veteran.
Earl was united in marriage to Louise Gustafson for over 30 years. Their marriage was blessed with four children, Carl, Charis, Christina, and Brooks.
Earl was united in marriage to Donna Harris Oct. 11, 1994, in Astoria, OR. Earl and Donna made their home in Cokato, and shared 22 years of marriage. Their marriage was also blessed with Donna’s six children, Jeanette, Paul, Jeffery, Catherine, Robert and Steve.
Earl worked as a truck driver, and for the United States Postal Service in Oregon City, OR, and St. Paul, MN, retiring in 1981. In his later years, he drove school and charter busses.
He was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Darwin; and of the Brainerd VFW Post 1647, and the Howard Lake Legion Post 145.
Earl enjoyed woodworking, traveling, and making beef jerky and drying fruits including bananas and apples. He especially treasured the time spent with his family, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends.
Earl is survived by his wife, Donna “June” Gifford of Cokato; children, Carl Quentin Gifford and his wife, Debbie, of Idaho, Charis Faye Woodward and her husband, Durwood, Christina Sager and her husband, Roger, and Brooks Diane Louise Cullison and her husband, Dean, all of Oregon; and step children, Jeanette Gunnerson and her husband, James, of Annandale, Paul Harris and his wife, Jenny, of Burnsville, Jeffery Harris and his wife, Judy, of Wisconsin, Catherine Harris of Willmar, and Robert Harris and his wife, Shelby, of Missouri.
He is further survived by 27 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren; six great-great-grandchildren; a brother, Harold Gifford and his wife, Carol, of Woodbury; a sister, June Shoen of Hastings; brother-in-law Robert Schumann and his wife, Donna, of Annandale; daughter-in-law Lori Harris of Cambridge; and many other relatives and friends.
Earl was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Electa Gifford; first wife, Louise Gustafson; son, Steve Harris; sister, Rosemary Schumann; brother, Quentin John Gifford; and brother-in-law, Sam Shoen.
Mass of Christian Burial took place Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church in Darwin, with interment following in the church cemetery. Father Joe Steinbeisser officiated at the Mass; Jeanene Doran was the organist; and Shirley Weinzetl was the song leader.
Musical selections were “Old Rugged Cross,” “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” “Song of Farwell,” and “In The Garden.”
Quentin Gifford was urn bearer; and Earl’s grandchildren were honorary urnbearers.
Military honors were provided by Litchfield Veterans Memorial Honor Squad.
Memorials are preferred to the American Heart Association, 4701 W. 77th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55435.
Arrangements were with the Hantge Chapel in Darwin.Online obituaries and guest book are available at www.hantge.com; click on Obituaries/Guest Book.