John Wayne Goertel of Fargo died Friday March 12, 2004 at Fort Rice, North Dakota. He was 61.
Mr. Goertel was born September 22, 1942 in Mandan, North Dakota. He grew up on a farm south of Mandan, where he loved deer hunting, shooting sparrows out of trees (we do know what kind of trouble that sport got him into in later years?but it was grackles, not sparrows then), and doing farm work, especially hauling bales. He and his older brother, Ron, especially loved having their mother and stepfather, Elmer Keller, go on trips with the younger children. That meant he and Ron could go swimming in the Missouri River without anyone nagging them. He graduated from Mandan High School in 1960 and then from North Dakota State University in 1964, where he also did graduate work. On August 8, 1964 he married Gloria Larson of Blanchard, North Dakota at Peace Lutheran Church in Fargo.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in August of 1968. He was attending officer candidate school when he received a direct commission into the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. He attended officer basic at Fort McClellan, Alabama and was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he was an instructor at the CBR (Chemical, Biological, Radiological) School. While at Fort Bragg he discovered sport parachuting. In fact, he celebrated the birth of his older son, Wayne, by getting in seven jumps that day.
After returning from the service, he was employed in the RV and automotive support areas until starting his own company, West River Industries. He loved visiting with his customers, old and new.
In addition to running West River, John raised cattle with brothers Bryan and Lionel near Fort Rice. Every spring, during calving season, he was convinced that every set of twin calves born simply had to have come from one of his cows. He loved spending time at the ranch and wrestling with his nephews Lee, Travis, Todd, and niece Michelle. No wrestling session could end before the words ?Uncle John, you handsome devil you, please let me go? were uttered.
He was active in his son?s activities, including helping as was a stroke and turn judge at swim meets when his younger son, Tim, swam. The sight of John?s bare white legs in shorts was a sight few will ever forget. He also developed an affinity for classical music after hearing his son, Wayne, play many viola pieces. He was also the consummate storyteller. John was proud of the fact that he had been married for almost 40 years to a full-blooded Norwegian but had never eaten Lefse.
John was deeply devoted to his family and very proud of his wife and sons. He was also overjoyed to gain a daughter-in law whom he adored when his son, Tim, married Sara Nelson in 2003. His kind heart, caring nature, and wonderful stories will be greatly missed.