L. Gordon Smith

L. Gordon Smith, 95, of Northfield passed away Tuesday evening, February 9, 2021, in the loving care of his family at Martin Luther Manor in Bloomington.

Gordon was born on June 18, 1925, in Montevideo to Dr. Leon Grant and Edith Jane (Lumley) Smith. Gordon had many happy memories of growing up in Montevideo with his two brothers, William and Eugene, and his sister, Margaret. He had especially fond memories of an idyllic childhood in their house on Summit Avenue where his siblings and neighborhood friends enjoyed playing marbles, riding their bikes, and ice skating on the Chippewa River.

Gordon first met the love of his life, JoAnn Isabelle Johnson, while they were both in the eighth grade. He had a vivid recollection of his first glimpse of JoAnn when she was visiting a next-door family. He would never forget her stunning black hair and the way she stood with her arms held demurely at her side. It was love at first sight.

Gordon graduated from Montevideo High School in 1943. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Minnesota for several months, then enlisted in the United States Army. He served in WWII in Vienna, Austria during the final months of the war, and was honorably discharged in 1947.

In January of 1945, after graduating from Officer Candidate School in Virginia, Gordon returned to Montevideo on a 30-day leave prior to being deployed overseas. On January 20, he proposed to JoAnn while ice skating on the Chippewa River, presenting her with the engagement ring, saying, “If you can catch me, you can have it!” JoAnn was a speed-skater, and quickly caught him.

In June of 1945, Gordon and JoAnn were married at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Montevideo. They made their first home in Minneapolis, where Gordon resumed his studies at the University of Minnesota, and JoAnn completed her nurses’ training at Fairview Hospital. In 1949, they were blessed with twin daughters, which initiated a move back to Montevideo to be near family. Soon after moving back to Montevideo, Gordon and his brother Eugene began farming. Gordon and JoAnn welcomed three more daughters while living on the farm. Gordon continued farming, in addition to selling seed corn for Pioneer Hybrid International. He eventually became a regional sales manager for Pioneer, which necessitated a move to St. Peter in 1968.

In 1976, Gordon and JoAnn built a house on a lot they had purchased on nearby Lake Washington. He was the general contractor for the build, and played a large role in the construction. They loved their lake home, and made many happy memories enjoying all that lake life had to offer, including spending time with wonderful neighbors who became lifelong friends.

After retirement, Gordon and JoAnn discovered the beauty of Arizona where they spent the winter months, and eventually established a full-time residence. Green Valley, Ariz. was their home for many years where they welcomed visitors and enjoyed traveling, hiking and beautiful sunsets. In 2017, health conditions required a relocation, and they reestablished their Minnesota roots at the Northfield Retirement Community.

Throughout his life, Gordon loved music. He and JoAnn enjoyed contributing their musical talents in many ways, from singing together in high school musicals “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Brigadoon,” to singing in several church choirs. He loved barbershop music, and was a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He sang as baritone in both a barbershop quartet and men’s chorus, thoroughly enjoying this musical genre throughout his years. Gordon was a talented woodworker for much of his adult life, crafting furniture and beautiful Shaker boxes that will forever serve as reminders of his expertise. He had many interests, including history and genealogical research, devoting hours to researching and writing historical ancestry record books that are treasured by his family.

Gordon was eternally devoted to his family. He adored his wife JoAnn, and remained by her side, hand-in-hand, throughout years of health challenges. Dependable, faithful, and steadfast, he was the epitome of “The Greatest Generation.” He will be greatly missed.

Gordon’s survivors include five daughters and their spouses – Karen Louise Ferrington of Hackensack, Susan Jane Fox of Northfield, Deborah Jean Becker (David) of Northfield, Judith Allison Blaisdell (Joel) of Plano, Texas, Caroline Esther Smith (Craig Petersen) of Northfield; 11 grandchildren – Laura Ferrington Jones (Kenderick), David Ferrington, Thomas Fox (Kathryn Goggin), James Fox (Laura), Joseph Fox (Richelle Stillwagon), Peter Blaisdell (Kacey), Andrew Blaisdell (Katie), Jane Becker Nelson (Peter), Ann Becker Peterson (Adam), Margaret Friedrichs (Joseph), Michael Nielsen (Billie Jo); step-grandchild Ryan Petersen; 16 great-grandchildren – Tatiana, Robert, Malcolm, William, Avery, Cadel, Daniel, Jesse, Westley, Joanna, Rebekah, Leah, Liv, Cora, Ritajane, Jackie; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, two brothers, sister, and wife JoAnn.

Due to Covid-19, funeral services will be private. Interment with Military Honors will be in Sunset Memorial Cemetery, Montevideo, at a later date.

Memorials are preferred to Minnesota Historical Society, Union Presbyterian Church in St. Peter, or the Northfield Retirement Community Chapel Fund.

Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. 

Please go to www.northfieldfuneral.com to view video tribute.

Published on February 23, 2021