Published in the Pine City Pioneer April 13, 2017
Vernon William Downing, of Braham, passed away on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, at GracePointe Crossing Gables East in Cambridge. He was 76 years old.
Vernon was born on May 9, 1940, in Pine City to parents Russell and Edna (Lindstrom) Downing. He grew up on the family farm in rural Braham and attended school in Grasston and then Braham. After graduating Braham High School in 1958, Vernon began dairy farming with his parents. In 1956, Vernon had met Diane Wendt at the roller rink in Rush City. All the girls wanted rides on Vern’s Cushman scooter, but he only had eyes for Diane. They were married on Dec. 31, 1960, at the Methodist church in Pine City. In 1965, Vernon left farming due to complications with his health, moving the family to Foley where he attended business school. Vernon worked a sales route, first for Ambassador Meats while living in Little Falls, and later for Frito Lay in Cambridge. He also worked at Onan Manufacturing for a short while. But Vernon was drawn back to the farm in 1970 and continued milking dairy cows until 1978. He continued to crop farm and raise pigs. In 1994, Vernon began his ten year “hobby” of raising pumpkins, which he sold on the roadside in Roseville. Pumpkins need pollinators, so he also kept bees and sold their honey. After Vernon was retired from farming, he still enjoyed checking in on his sons’ and neighbors’ farms.
Vernon enjoyed antique and John Deere tractors and was especially proud of his fully restored horse drawn wagon. Vernon was a faithful man who loved God and was a long time member of the St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Braham. He served as an elder and would occasionally preach if the need arose. Vernon was so proud to be a Gideon, and so thankful for all the area churches who welcomed the Gideons to make presentations for funds to send Bibles in this country and around the world. Most of all, Vernon loved his family. He was so proud of his grandchildren and all they had and would accomplish. He will be dearly missed by his numerous neighbors, friends and family.
Vernon is preceded in death by his parents, brother-in-law Clifford Wendt, and godson Matthew Thomas.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Diane; children, Robert (Lynette) of Pine City, David (Tammy) of St. Paul, Dan (Andrea) of Braham and Michele (Bob) Berg of Coon Rapids; grandchildren, Colin, Katie, Anna, Bryan, Alec, Emma, Natalie and Jenna; brother Harlan (Molly) of St. Anthony; sister Marianne (Mari Copeland) of Las Vegas; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Vernon’s family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the kind and caring people at GracePointe Crossing and St. Croix Hospice
A funeral service was held on Monday, April 10, 2017, at the St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Braham with Rev. Tim Renstrom officiating and John Miels as Lector. Interment was in the St John’s Lutheran Cemetery near Rush City. Memorials are preferred to Heifer International; https://fundraise.heifer.org/PumpkinMan
Arrangements are by the Rock Ingebrand Funeral Home of Braham. Condolences may be posted at www.aifuneralhome.com