1. Most of the photos in this section are obtained from Jean Siirila and her helpers on the showbook committee. Thank you Jean and crew!

Gerry Stange

Discussion in 'Tributes' started by Pete Mandt, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. Pete Mandt

    Pete Mandt WMSTR President WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Gerry Stange
    1923 - 2017

    Gerry Stange had a very unusual greeting on his phone. “You have reached a licensed steam engineer who also plays the harmonica and the saxophone.” The message could also have included the words “a devoted family man, former Crystal Sugar employee, entertainer, scoutmaster, member of many organizations, and a person who volunteered his services in numerous areas, including Rollag.”

    Gerry was born on the family farm near Cairo, NE to Harry and Pearl Hiddleson Stange on August 24, 1923. He helped on the family farm and was operating a steam engine when he was 11 years old while helping his dad. Gerry did custom threshing, corn shelling and combining with his dad for over 10 years. During his entire life, music was a passion. His mother taught him to play the violin. During high school, he started and ran a local cinema with his brother, and played saxophone and harmonica in several bands, including a family band. He graduated from Cairo High School with high honors in 1940.

    Gerry proudly served his country during both WWII and the Korean War. During the occupation of Japan after World War II Gerry played with a country western group on Armed Forces Club Radio. Then during the Korean conflict Gerry became a member of an all soldier variety show called “Take Ten”. He performed in over 200 show, sometimes close to the front lines.

    After returning from active duty, Gerry married Nadine Baran on October 30, 1951 in Grand Island, NE. They had 5 sons, Mike, Jon, Kenneth, Frank and Karl. Even though Gerry worked for American Crystal Sugar he also managed a Drive-In theater and played in dance bands on the side to support his growing family. He started working for Crystal in Grand Island, NE but in 1957 he was transferred to Denver from Rocky Ford and then was transferred to Moorhead in 1973. He retired from Crystal Sugar as a National Credit Manager after 40 years of service.

    His interest in steam led him to come to Rollag in 1973 due to a conversation with Tom Hall, a fellow scouter. He became involved with the Ortner Railroad in 1978 and through time became superintendent of the Ortner. In 1985, Gerry also began to play the harmonica during the show. Later, he added the saxophone. With some other musicians from Rollag, most notably The Junction Bunch, he played at many other events and parades to advertise WMSTR. Gerry was also a past chairman of the Rollag Music Committee. He and his family put in many volunteer hours at Rollag during the years, and Gerry was actively involved in Rollag’s Steam School.

    Gerry was always involved in scouting, starting in NE and continuing into the later years of his life. He was a scoutmaster and hiked over 1500 miles in the mountains around Denver with scout troops. He encouraged and oversaw many young boys earn their Eagle Scout badges and Pope Pius XII awards. He was the lay chairman of Catholic Scouting in the Crookston Diocese for 20 years, was on the regional committee for Catholic Scouting, and the Northern Lights Council in scouting. He was also Cheminot for the Forty and Eight, Grand du Minnesota 1991-92.

    In addition to scouting, Gerry was a past director of the International J.I. Case Heritage Center. He was a past commander of Legion Post 21, and Past Chef-De-Garr in the Forty and Eight Voiture #1516, Clay and Becker County. He worked Bingo at the American Legion, volunteered at the VA Hospital, and entertained at numerous nursing homes in the area as a “Country Auggies” till age 90. He was also active in Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and Stearns County Pioneer Threshers Association.

    Gerry was the backbone of his family. He valued all the time he was able to spend with his boys and his grandchildren and great grandchildren, always ready to tell a new joke. Gerry passed his love for steam to his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed sharing time with them operating steam engines, as well as discussing and playing music.

    He is survived by his four sons, Michael Sally Stange, Littleton, CO; Kenneth Janet Stange, Brookings, SD; Frank Stange, Moorhead; and Karl Carlene, Moorhead, MN. 11 grandchildren: Kristina, Daniel, Suzanne, Josephine, Jon, Lucas, Bridgette, Cassandra, Katelyn, Carrie, and Kayla and 19 great-grandchildren will all miss him dearly.

    He is preceded in death by his father and mother, Harry and Pearl Stange; his wife Nadine; brother, Roland Stange; and son, Jon Stange.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2019
  2. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member


    Thanks for sharing the news. Gerry will be missed.
    Prayers said for Gerry and family.

    Jerry Christiansen
  3. M Kerkvliet

    M Kerkvliet WMSTR Past President Administrator WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Sorry to hear. Happy that he had a happy last visit to the show. Deepest sympathy to the Stange family.
  4. craig mattson

    craig mattson Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    This is very sad news. Glad he was able to make it out to the show. Prayers and thoughts to the Stange Family
  5. karl stange

    karl stange Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Here is the "short" notice for my dad, Gerry.

    Gerald 'Gerry' Adair Stange
    August 24, 1923 - September 8, 2017
    Born in Cairo, NE
    Resided in Moorhead, MN​

    Gerald 'Gerry' Adair Stange, 94, of Moorhead, MN, passed away on Friday, September 8, 2017, at Villa Maria Nursing Home in Fargo, ND.

    Visitation: Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at Wright Funeral Home in Moorhead, MN, from 5:00-6:30PM with a prayer service beginning at 6:30PM.

    Service: Thursday, September 14, 2017, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Moorhead, MN at 11:30AM.

    2nd Visitation: Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Apfel Funeral Home in Cairo, NE, at 10:00AM with a prayer service beginning at 11:00AM.

    Burial: Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Cairo, NE, following services at Apfel Funeral Home.
  6. crystalaakre

    crystalaakre Mega Poster Moderator WMSTR Lifetime Member

    So glad Karl was able to get him out to Rollag recently. Gerry was an advocate of getting young people involved in the old machines and such a great mentor to many, including myself. People like him are hard to come by - he will be so missed. Thinking of you Karl and your family during this time.
    karl stange likes this.

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