Gordon O. Grinaker

gordon o. grinaker
Gordon Olander Grinaker, 99, died peacefully in his sleep at Villa Maria in Fargo on Friday, October 27, 2017. Gordon and his twin sister Ione were born in his grandmother’s farmhouse near Walcott on October 4, 1918. His father Gilbert Toppen was in training for World War I at the time. A few months later, Gordon’s mother Ida (Moen) Toppen died in the great flu epidemic. Following the death of his mother, Gordon was raised by his aunt Bethilda (Toppen) Grinaker and her husband Sophus. Gordon later changed his last name from Toppen to Grinaker. Gordon worked beside Sophus on the family farm along Highway 46. Gordon learned to drive in a Model T Ford and never took a driver’s test. For the rest of his life, he renewed the first ND driver’s license he had bought for a dollar through the mail. Gordon met the love of his life, Georgia Dusek, at a Moorhead dance. They married in 1953, sold their share of the farm and took a year off to travel the U.S. In California they discovered the Autoette, a three-wheeled electric microcar (like golf carts). When the couple returned to Fargo, Gordon opened Grinaker Autoette. Gordon loved to learn new things, and worked at a variety of jobs in Fargo. He worked as a nursing assistant at the Veterans Administration Hospital for a year and did a short stint at the post office delivering mail. After deciding he couldn’t walk that much, he got a job driving truck at Northern Improvement to work on road construction and other projects. In 1960, Gordon rekindled his passion for farming and worked a farm three miles west of Hickson. He and Georgia raised crops, and also four children—two boys and two girls. During the winters of ’65-’67 the family lived in Tucson, AZ, for their son’s respiratory health. Undeterred by his 10th grade education, Gordon took a master’s class at the University of Arizona. County agents from around the world would spend evenings at the Grinakers’ kitchen table, drilling Gordon about how farming theories worked in real life. After Gordon was disabled by severe headaches in 1971, they rented the farmland until his son Dennis could run the farm. In 1991, following Dennis’s death in a plane crash, Gordon and Georgia moved to Fargo. Gordon remained devoutly religious throughout his life. He was a founding member of St. Maurice in Kindred. In his later decades he was a member of Nativity Catholic Church and active in the Fargo Senior Center. Gordon was known for his warm and peaceful nature, and his gift for easy conversation. His curiosity about almost any subject made him an attentive listener and he made everyone feel welcome. Gordon was known for his inventive knack for improving things. His house and car were filled with creative solutions he devised using duct tape and wire. Gordon is survived by his wife, Georgia (Dusek) Grinaker of Fargo; his children Gary (Rhonda) Grinaker of Bismarck, Betty (Bryon) Thom of Edgeley, and Diane (Bill Evans) Gasal of Bellevue, WA; and his grandchildren Krista Thom, Nicole (Brad) Schanche, Ashlee (John) Schaeffer, Tyler Bader, and Grayson Grinaker. He is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Ione (Toppen) Bakko, and his son Dennis Grinaker.

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  1. Dear Georgia and family,
    I’m terribly sorry that Gordon has died. He was such a sweet man and I truly enjoyed caring for him at palliative care. You are a wonderful family, enjoy your many wonderful memories of times together. His spirit will be forever watchful over you all.
    Hugs for you all.

    Deepest Sympathy,
    Cheryl Brant
    RN, Palliative Care

  2. I’m sorry to learn of Gordon’s passing. I have so many great memories of all six of you. I’m proud of how much effort Gordon put into the founding of the St. Maurice Parish in Kindred. Kathy & I enjoyed helping Norma with the music there for 25 years! This is one of the times I wish I didn’t live so far away as I’d like to extend any comfort to you four that I could offer at his funeral Mass.

  3. Georgia and Family, I’m sorry to hear of Gordon’s passing. He was one of my favorite faces to see in the clinic. Always so bright with a smile on his face and Georgia by his side. My deepest condolences to you all.

    Erin Winterquist
    RN Vascular Surgery.

  4. Betty, Georgia, Diane, and Gary,
    Sorry to hear of your loss. His smile and yes, twinkling eyes are a warm memory for me also. Hold on to your wonderful memories. I know his inquisitive and inventive knack has been passed on as well as his warm nature. My sympathy,

  5. Dear Betty and Grinaker Family,

    Thinking of you and your family. So sorry for your loss.
    Such a nice picture of your dad!
    May all the wonderful memories you have of him bring you
    comfort and peace.
    With sincere sympathy,
    God Bless,
    Colleen (Rheault) Rude

  6. We are very sorry to hear of Gordons passing. I remeber him coming into our shop and visiting. He was a very nice man, and will be missed.

  7. Georgia and family,

    Gordon was such a kind, caring and gentle man. I’m so thankful I was able to enjoy the company of both of you and all the fun we had playing pinochle. Dalice Ebsen

  8. Loved the video with so many wonderful pictures and priceless memorie!. Definitely a wonderful and long life enjoyed and well lived! He was such a kind and gentle man who will be greatly missed. Healing hugs to the whole Grinaker family!

  9. Gordon was my Godfather. Georgia my Godmother. I last saw them at my Uncle Denis Toppen’s funeral long ago. But I most remember him when I visited my grandparents farm in the mid 1980’s in Kindred, ND area. It was such a pleasure to see Gordon AND Georgia then. My condolences to all of the family. I know he was a very, very good man! I’m still crying having just seen his video. Thank you for sharing his life in photos…a precious memory for me! In Christ, Terri Lynne Brunette, daughter of the late Terrence (Terry) Brunette & Lorraine Toppen Brunette ⛪️

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