CALEDONIA, Minn. — Beloved husband and father, Gary Alvin Dean, 78, passed away Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, due to recurrent lung cancer this spring with contributing conditions of Alzheimer’s Disease/Vascular Dementia and COPD. Gary had been residing at Cottagewood Senior Community in Rochester, Minn., since August 2016, for round-the-clock memory care.
The family thanks the outstanding staff at Cottagewood, Seasons Hospice, Mayo Hospital and Clinic, and Olmstead Medical Center-Psychiatry in Rochester, as well as Clara House in La Crescent, for the loving care he received over the last 14 months. His family is also grateful for the priceless extra four years that Gundersen Health Center oncologists in La Crosse, were able to provide Gary as a lung cancer patient in 2013; he’d quit smoking in 2005 and made successful requests that his family never start.
Gary was born June 27, 1939, in Mason City, Iowa. He was highly social like his parents and enjoyed his school years in Mason City and Belmond, as well as the three years he served in the Navy from 1957-1960, including basic training in Company 204 at Great Lakes, Ill. Gary was as an aircontrolman early warning (ACW3) for the Navy’s airborne early warning and control system (AEW&C) a crew member performing radar surveillance. He flew all over the Pacific in WV-2’s to help protect the U.S. from any attack by countries such as China, North Korea or Russia.
Gary’s naval missions included service during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis involving Quemoy, the Matsu Islands, and the Taiwan Strait, for which it is believed his squadron earned an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with other courageous Armed Forces members. Gary also flew on very long missions in AEWBARRONPAC squadrons on the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line based out of Barber’s Point, Hawaii, including round-trip flights on the Pacific Barrier from Midway Island to the Aleutian Islands. Gary also helped with typhoon reconnaissance to measure their speed and direction. His squadrons had included VW-3, VW-14, etc., and he remained ready to serve in the Reserves until 1963, when he was officially and honorably discharged.
In 1966 in Milwaukee, Gary married his sweetheart, Rosetta Marie Peterson from Decorah, Iowa, where their families lived. After having two children during their college years and initial career starts, Rose and Gary moved their family to La Crescent, in the beautiful Mississippi River region of La Crosse, to be closer to more tri-state family members.
Gary enjoyed a social career as a national and regional sales manager and representative in various industries including business services, masonry supplies, and wildlife art in order to support himself, his children and his wife, who was also a medical technologist, homemaker/business assistant, nutrition store associate and illustrator. In his spare time, Gary loved socializing and close family times spent enjoying in-depth conversations on many topics, the scenic nature and wildlife of the region, the family’s pets, sports such as fishing, bat and catch, Frisbee, and miniature golf, games like canasta and Trivial Pursuit, and all the seasonal holidays. He also enjoyed literature (esp. James Joyce), film, writing, history and philosophy books, science and nature programs, art, astronomy and music. His talented father, Fred, was a professional musician and had honorably served in the U.S. 303d Infantry Regiment in World War II from 1944-1946.
Gary is survived by his wife of 51 years, Rose; his children, Janette and David; his aunt. Leona Funk (Allie); uncle, Walter “Walt” Allie; half-brothers, Mike, Terry, Mark, Steve, Scott, Kim; and half-sister, Dawn; as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins including Sharon Funk, Jay Lee and Linda Lee Trost.
Gary was preceded in death by his grandparents, Frederick Alvin Dean Sr., Gertrude Olivia Dean (Donegan), Frank Allie and Ella Mae Allie (Reiter); parents, Fred Alvin Dean Jr. and Mildred “Millie” Irene Voyles (Allie); stepfather, Robert “Bob” Voyles; brother, Alan Dean; half-brother, Brian Voyles; infant sister, Janice Kae Dean; aunt, Virgie Lee (Allie); cousin, Judy Funk; and others.
After his passing, his daughter, Janette realized that one of his pieces of writing was not about some distant place in the universe, but about his hopes for Earth and human beings: “Once upon a time and a wonderful time it was, there was a place referred to by the inhabitants as the ‘cosmos’ and thought of by the inhabitants as ‘home’ with their situation as being and becoming in a spiritual and mystical cosmos through space and time. A sense of ecstasy prevailed.”
From 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, a nature-themed remembrance gathering for close family and friends, with a brief military ceremony will be held inside the International Friendship Gardens in Riverside Park, in the Irish Garden near the Celtic cross and waterside anchor sculpture. The gathering includes a light lunch and shared memories in the International Gazebo.
With favorite Dean family destinations through the years being La Crescent Bluff, Riverside Park, Pettibone Park, Grandad Bluff and Goose Island, the family will also plant a tree with some of Gary’s ashes on the one-year anniversary of his passing to again honor his life, ideas and values. One of Gary’s favorite quotes was, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21:and Luke 12:34.
Among Gary’s final 2017 notes was a graphic timeline of the Big Bang 14 billion years ago amid the cosmos, space and time and the phrase, “Let there be light: Genesis 1:3.” A written prayer was also found: “Thank you, God, for your creations. Please help me be all I can be and celebrate your creations and existence, being and becoming.” Having been an agnostic at times as well, Gary felt human beings should work diligently to create admirable societies and to protect our home planet in the cosmos, whatever its origin might be.
Rochester Cremation Services who also provides funeral services gave much-appreciated support, advice and service to the Dean family.