Gary Van Wechel, 81, Fergus Falls,

Published 2:29pm Friday, July 8, 2011

Gary Richard Van Wechel, 81, of Fergus Falls, died Thursday, July 7, 2011, at his home under the care of Lakeland Hospice.

He was born on March 14, 1930, on a farmstead in Wilkin County, the son of Frank and Martha (Weyhrauch) Van Wechel. He attended country grade school in Wilkin County and graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1947. He served in the United States Army for two years during the Korean War, earning a Korean Service Medal and three Bronze Service Stars.

On Oct. 14, 1951, he married Joanne Bullis at Lawrence Presbyterian Church in Wendell.

During his 55-plus years as an exceptional mechanic, he worked at various repair shops including family-owned Wendell Super Service, Worner Nash Sales, Suhr Ford, Fossen Oil, Elbow Lake Ford and Riverside Repair. In 1974, Gary and his wife started Van’s Muffler Shop. In 1995 he retired from day to day operations due to health issues. He began working part-time at Stonel in 2003 and enjoyed his work and co-workers for 5-1⁄2 years.

He was an active member of Church of Peace United Methodist Church for 50 years and was trustee, served on Administrative Board, ran the sound system and was custodian.

Gary enjoyed many hours of playing Carrom with his kids and granddaughters. He enjoyed his special time with his family and friends. He earned the nickname “Scrappy” from the crew at Stonel Manufacturing, because of his life-long commitment that no metals should be buried in a landfill. Gary was very devoted to his church and family and spent many special times with them.

Preceding him in death were his parents; and sisters: Ira Stempson, Virginia Dahlberg and Doris Stuehrenberg.

Survivors include his wife, Joanne; children: Velma Bjorgum (Brian Schmitt) of Wahpeton, Tim (Jan) Van Wechel of Fergus Falls, Paul (DeAnn Stock) Van Wechel of Fergus Falls, Tony (Kathy) Van Wechel of Farmington, Minn., and Robert Van Wechel of Fergus Falls; eight grandchildren: Dina (Matt) Freitag, Tanya (Mike Robinson) of Fargo, Melissa (Brian) Josewski of Fargo, Samantha of Fargo, Anna of Moorhead, Jordan of Fargo, and Nic James and Ty Jon of Farmington, Minn.; great-grandchildren: Danielle and Kaleb Freitag, Cole Schmidt, Caden Van Wechel Robinson, and a forthcoming great-granddaughter; and a brother, Calvin Van Wechel of Texas.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Lakeland Hospice in Fergus Falls.

Visitation: Friday (today) from 5 to 7 p.m. at the church with a 7 p.m. prayer service and resumes one hour prior to the service at the church

Memorial service: 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at Church of Peace United Methodist in Fergus Falls.

Clergy: Reverend Gary Gottfried

Interment: Knollwood Memorial Gardens in Fergus Falls.

Funeral home: Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls

• Condolences may be sent online at

Editor's Picks

Burris sentenced to 12 years, 6 months in prison

Michael Alan Burris, who pleaded guilty in October to second-degree involuntary murder in the 2012 shooting of his nephew, Scott Burris, was sentenced Friday afternoon ... Read more

Tree of Hope brings Christmas to the needy

Hundreds of ornaments hung on a tree in Bethlehem Lutheran Church before people in the congregation picked them out to take home over the weeks ... Read more

All aboard! Santa is coming to town [UPDATED]

Off in the distance will be the sound of a train’s horn, and as it chugs closer and closer, the crowd waiting his arrival will ... Read more

Send a veteran a card this season

Addressing the annual family Christmas cards can be a chore, but the local veterans’ home is asking everyone to add a couple names to the ... Read more