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Gerald Erwin Van De Venter, 91, of Park Rapids, passed away Sunday, April 20, 2014 at Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids surrounded by his loved ones.

Gerald was born Feb. 20, 1923 near Osage to Carl and Cora (Easton) Van De Venter. As a small boy he moved with his parents to a farm just west of Park Rapids. In fact, he has lived in the same house on that farm for the past 88 years.

Gerald attended public school in Park Rapids, graduating from the Park Rapids High School with the Class of 1942. As a young man, Gerald engaged in dairy farming with his father.

On Sept. 26, 1944, Gerald was united in marriage to Ruth Kimball in Park Rapids.

His dad passed away in 1957, and Gerald took over the operation of the dairy farm. He worked hard in building up a productive herd of Jersey dairy cattle and raising the crops needed to feed his livestock. He also maintained a herd of high quality sows and fed out over 200 finished hogs annually.

He was also very active in his community. He served as the treasurer of the Todd Township board from 1958 to 1991. He served as a Director for the Itasca-Mantrap Electrical Cooperative Board from 1971 to 2001.

Gerald sold his dairy cows in 1985, but continued to farm until his retirement in 1990. In 1971, Gerald received the "Outstanding Dairyman of Hubbard County" award. Gerald enjoyed square dancing and along with his wife, Ruth started the Friendly Squares Square Dancing Club in Park Rapids in 1957. He and Ruth loved to dance together and continued actively square dancing until 2013. He received the "Young At Heart Award" at the State Square Dancing Convention in 2012. He also enjoyed fishing, blueberry picking, and playing cards-- he continued playing cards right up until several days before his death, when in spite of not feeling well, he still won both games. Gerald was also gifted with his hands and could somehow repair or build most anything. He and Ruth enjoyed hosting the annual 4th of July picnic for their neighbors and friends. He also enjoyed attending neighborhood birthday parties.

He was a long-time and faithful member of St. Johns Lutheran Church where he has served on many boards and committees.

The family wishes to thank the St. Joseph's Area Hospice and the staff at Heritage Living Center for their wonderful care of Gerald.

Gerald is survived by his precious wife for the past 69 years, Ruth; his four children, Norene Houser and fianc, Mickey Klasen of Champlin, Karen Van De Venter of Park Rapids, Gordy (Deb) Van De Venter of Oakes, N.D. and Fred (Elaine) Van De Venter of Elk River; his eight dearly loved grandchildren, Cathy (Duane) Hall of New Germany, Jason (Heidi) Houser of Minneapolis, Sarah Van De Venter of Grand Forks, N.D., Holly (Brian) Connolly of Rosemount, Kallie Van De Venter of Fargo, N.D., Justin Van De Venter of Elk River, Katrina Van De Venter of Elk River and Sabrina (Andy) Miller of Becker; and two great-grandchildren, Mitchell and Brittney.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Melba; and son-in-law, Joseph Houser.

Funeral service: 11 a.m. Thursday, April 24 at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Park Rapids with the Rev. James Neubauer and Rev. Timothy Heinecke officiating. The organist will be Sarah Kaufenburg.

Casket bearers: Lyle Luther, Henry Luther, Brian Luther, Justin Van De Venter, Jason Houser and Arvin Packer.

Honorary casket bearers: members of the Friendly Squares Square Dancing Club.

Interment: Greenwood Cemetery in Park Rapids.

Visitation: 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 at the Jones-Pearson Funeral Home and also one hour prior to the service at the church on Thursday.

To view the video tribute or to leave online condolences visit