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Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson
Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson was born to Earl Marshall and Gladis Leo (Richardson) Gaunt on Saturday, July 26, 1913 near Prosperine, Laclade County, Missouri. Eva passed on Friday, August 18, 1989, at the age of 76 years and 23 days in Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas.
In early 1909 her material grandparents, Arthur Davis and Mattie Eldora Wilson (Cray) Richardson, moved from Iowa to Missouri to find a place where they could afford to buy land and farm. In latter 1909 their daughters Avenelle and Ruth caught typhoid fever in Iowa and they recovered, then their daughter Inez caught typhoid in Iowa. Her mother, Mattie came back to Iowa to nurse her daughter (Inez), caught the fever, and passed at Inez’s home on Thursday, November 18, 1909; she was only 54 years and 12 days old, and had lived through the worst of the Civil War, and all but one of her many Cray brothers fought on the Union side.
Then early December 1909 they found that Gladis was carrying typhoid fever and she lost all of her hair and while it was growing out, she wore an angora cap; Arthur had a watch fob made from her hair, about six inches long and tightly woven in a very intricate pattern. Gladis recovered and in 1910 she married Earl Marshall Gaunt, and they settled into farming near New Providence. It was in December 1912 Earl and Gladis had a farm sale and sold all of their farming equipment and livestock and moved to Missouri in January or February 1913 to join Arthur and it was there in July 1913 when Eva was born.
It was about this time that everyone decided that Missouri was not where they wanted to make their long-term home, and in November 1913 Earl and Gladis and baby Eva moved back to Iowa, and took up farming near Liscomb, Marshall County. When they moved back to Iowa, Arthur came with them and he made his home with Gladis and Earl and Eva for the next 20-plus years. Arthur was a man close to his church and in 1925 even became an ordained Baptist Minister at the Laclade Baptist Church where he taught for many years while they lived in Missouri. As Eva grew up, she, too, found her religion which was a center part of her for the rest of her life. She attended the Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church in Zearing and many church camps and outings.
Eva’s brother, George Arthur Gaunt, was born near Liscomb on Tuesday, October 12, 1915, and for the rest of their lives, they were as close as a brother and sister could be.
Eva began school at the “Arrasmith” one-room school house and attended there for three years (fall 1920-spring 1921, fall 1921-spring 1922, and fall 1922-spring 1923); George began school there as well (fall 1922-spring 1923). Eva’s grandfather (Arthur) would drive them to school using Eva’s horse Snicklefrtz and pick them up after school and take them home. Eva and George then went to the “Ross” rural school where she continued to attend through the eighth grade. During this time Eva received several awards for perfect attendance, and her great spelling abilities. One of the awards was an ivory necklace which she kept the rest of her life. The eighth grade examination for Hardin County was held in Eldora which scared Eva greatly because of the size, and although she passed, she always felt she could have done better if she wasn’t so scared. In fall of 1927 Eva began high school at Lincoln Township Consolidated High School in Zearing, Iowa, where she graduated on May 13, 1931, as valedictorian.
Eva saved her money earned by making dolls and every cent given to her so she could attend college. Just before graduating from high school the banks closed and Eva lost all the money she saved. Gladis and Earl also lost all their money and couldn’t help Eva to go to college. Eva’s grandfather James William Gaunt said he would help, and a few weeks later, the Clemons bank closed and he lost his money. That did not deter Eva as she went ahead and enrolled at Iowa State Teachers College to begin in the fall of 1931. Her father (Earl) would sell a load of corn he raised, or a load of hogs, to pay for Eva’s tuition, so Eva was able to continue with her college dreams. She did light housekeeping for the lady where she roomed in Cedar Falls, and as Eva recalled many years later, it was a very hard two years. Eva graduated on Monday, May 29, 1933.
When she returned home her first teaching job (fall 1933-spring 1934) was in a rural school near Bangor, Iowa, and the school board offered her a contract for $40 per month. Because it was during the depression, she was actually paid only $36 per month, teaching nine grades at the same time. She saved her money and during the summer of 1934 she took more classes at Iowa State Teachers College.
It was in early October 1933 while Eva was teaching at the Bangor school when Gladis and Earl drove into the Erickson barnyard looking for Jesse. Gladis asked if he would to pick Eva up over at the Bangor school where she was teaching so she could get home for George’s 18th birthday surprise party. As Eva recalled many years later, this was a point in their lives when Eva and Jesse became friends, attending basketball and football games, going to shows, and slowly their friendship evolved in to a romance, and at Christmas 1939 Jesse asked Eva to marry him.
Rather than continuing to teach at the Bangor rural school, Eva accepted a teaching job at the “Barnard” rural school which was much nearer where her parents lived and could stay at home to save money. She taught there for six years for $75 per month (fall 1934-spring 1935; fall 1935-spring 1936; fall 1936-spring 1937; fall 1937-spring 1938; fall 1938-spring 1939; and fall 1939-spring 1940). During this time (probably 1938 or 1939) Eva had an opportunity to go to the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky to teach. Gladis (her mother) was not well, and because Eva had future plans to be married, she declined the job. During her teaching years Eva, was elected President of the Teachers Association in Story County, and her pupils received many awards. In 1937 Eva moved in with her brother George near Zearing to keep house for him while she taught school; she stayed their until he married in December 1938.
Sunday afternoon at 2:30, June 4, 1939, Jesse Warner Erickson and Eva Garber Gaunt were united in marriage at the Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church in Zearing; the same church where George and Margaret were married six months prior. Because of so many days when the Barnard rural school was closed due to harsh winter weather, Eva barely completed her teaching year on May 29th to get ready for the wedding. Eloise Mauer, a very close schoolmate from Iowa State Teachers College, was Eva’s Maid of Honor, an Lyle Hayden, a very close schoolmate from Iowa State University, was Jesse’s Best Man. After a honeymoon in Indiana, they returned to their leased farm near the Erickson homeplace.
During the first year of their marriage, Eva continued to teach at the Barnard rural school (fall 1939-spring 1940). Jesse and Eva were living in a nine-room farmhouse and it was very hard for Eva to keep it up, so they had a lady live with them to help with the farm work and cooking while Eva taught school.
In November 1940 Eva encouraged Jesse to follow his dreams and they went to Wichita, Kansas, to check out a drafting school, the United Aircraft Training School. Jesse liked it, and Eva really didn’t want to live on a farm the rest of their lives, so they made a decision on that same weekend to move to Wichita and start a new life. They even rented an apartment and put the first month ($50) rent down to secure it. They returned to Iowa, sold their farm equipment and livestock, and move to Wichita for Jesse to start school the first of December 1940.
When they arrived back in Wichita, the apartment building was sold and the owner made off with the last $50 Jesse and Eva had. Eva was distraught, and wanted to find a church on that Sunday. They sought out the Trinity Evangelical United Brethren Church at Estelle and Waterman as it was the only church in Wichita that was related to the one in Zearing. Through the church members, they soon found housing, and they not only began their lives in Wichita, they found a church home and a new set of friends.
Jesse found a job at Cardwell Manufacturing Company in February 1941 just after he graduated from the drafting school They went on to have their first son, Terry Duane Erickson on February 28, 1943, their second son Joel Craig Erickson on November 14, 1945, and their daughter, Linda Kay Erickson on June 28, 1947.
Eva was a full-time mother dedicating her time to raising her children, and doing great things within the church, and for a while in the 1950s she was a substitute teacher in Wichita Public Schools. She was always involved in missionary work, leading classes and writing articles. She and Jesse would go on mission trips to Mexico and in other states to help build housing and other buildings during the summer. When Terry and Craig got old enough, both Jesse and Eva became deeply involved in leading the Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop in the church. Eva would make banquet decorations, go with Jesse on camping trips to Colorado, and joined him on many of his Boy Scout Jamboree trips, staying in hotels near the event location.
Eva and Jesse were inseparable and wherever one went, the other was there too. Eva’s hobbies included her church work all her life, and making things with her hands, from banquet decorations to Christmas decorations. She sewed and crocheted, and she decorated the reindeers that Jesse made out of logs. Never were two persons more suited with each other. Even though she was a quiet person, she was clearly the “matriarch” of the family. She loved cooking, and holidays were always celebrated at her house around the dinner table. She was the “queen” of making Christmas candy and cookies for the family and for everyone else, just like her mother Gladis.
A few months after returning from the National Boy Scout Jamboree in 1989, Eva had a stroke at home, and passed on August 18, 1989, at the age of 76 years and 23 days, and through her wishes, was interred at the White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Wichita, Kansas. Eva was preceded in death by both of her parents (Gladis and Earl), by her brother George, and her nephew James Gaunt. She was survived by her husband of 50-plus years, and her three children, Terry, Craig, and Linda, and many grandchildren.
[This remembrance was put together by J. Craig Erickson based on information provided by the family. Any errors are mine, and changes to make it more accurate and complete are encouraged and welcomed.]
Jesse Warner Erickson
Jesse Warner Erickson was born to Henry Ole and Charlotte (Rahfeldt) Erickson on Saturday, January 23, 1915, near Zearing, Story County, Iowa. Jesse passed on Tuesday, September 9, 2009, at the age of 94 years, seven months, and 16 days, in the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas.
Jesse was born in a family farmhouse south of Zearing, Iowa, where his parents were farming. He grew up on his parent’s farm, never traveling more than a few miles from home. He would often reminisce about those early days of farming with an acute ability to recall minor details and dates. He often shared about using horses for field work, picking corn by hand in harsh winter conditions, caring for cattle, chickens, and hogs, which were essential for their survival. He often recalled the winters when they were buried in snow and the temperatures were so cold that it was a full time effort to care for the livestock and provide water by any means necessary. No telephone, no electricity, and studying by oil lamp light, that was his environment when growing up. When a young child they only traveled by horse and buggy, and Jesse had his own horse which he always rode bareback. Acute in his memories were the dust bowl days, the depression, and when banks closed and they lost all their money. During those early childhood years, Jesse recalled that they celebrated Christmases and the gifts may have been an orange or pair of socks. While his life may have been hard as compared to our experiences in the 21st Century, Jesse was the most positive, generous, and gentle soul anyone could ever hope to meet.
Jesse attended the “Hedges” rural school, a one-room school house, for the first grade (fall 1921-spring 1922), then Lincoln Township Consolidated High School in Zearing, Iowa, for the second grade (fall 1922-spring 1923), then to the “Deal” rural school for the third grade (fall 1923-spring 1924), then back to the Lincoln Township Consolidated High School for the remaining years, graduating on Friday, May 26, 1933, with a class of 17 seniors. In school he loved to play baseball, always preferring to play shortstop or catcher; he played for two years and lettered. Jesse recalled many years later, he knew Eva Garber Gaunt a young girl that lived on a nearby farm and rode the school “bus” (horse hack for many years) to school. Eva was often the target for pranks by the boys, and as Eva later recalled it, Jesse was a real annoyance. Neither of them knew that a short ten years later they would marry.
It was in early October 1933 when Gladis and Earl drove into the Erickson barnyard looking for Jesse. She asked if he would to pick Eva up over at the Bangor rural school where she was teaching so she could get home for George’s surprise 18th birthday party. This was probably the first time Jesse and Eva met as “adults” and was the beginning of a nice friendship.
After graduating from high school Jesse raised and showed Black Angus calves and his buddy George Gaunt (Eva’s brother) raised and showed Herefords with some notable successes. It was also during this time when Henry and Charlotte began having dances in the parlor on their farm, at first attended by the Rahfeldts and soon a lot of friends and neighbors were joining in. Henry would play his violin and Jesse would accompany on the guitar. During these years (1933-1936) the friendship between Jesse and Eva grew, and soon they were “dating.”
Henry and Charlotte had saved their money for many years to make sure Jesse could attend college, but with the bank closures, it was all lost. It took Jesse and his parents three years to save enough money for tuition, with Jesse helping by making sorghum, skinning skunks, and doing other chores. Finally Jesse was able to attend college and began in the fall of 1936 at Iowa State University where continued for two years (fall 1936-spring 1937, fall 1937-fall 1938). Jesse had taken his guitar to college with him, but one of his housemate buddies sat on it and it was broken, never to be repaired.
It was Christmas 1938 when Jesse asked Eva to marry him, and gave her an engagement ring. It was also in December 1938 when Eva’s brother George Gaunt married Margaret Janet Wickham. When Jesse wrapped up his second year of college he returned home to live on the farm, and over the succeeding six months prepared for the wedding and leased a farm onto which he and Eva would move after they married. Eva was always very close to her church, and in the summer of 1939 Jesse was baptized and Eva gave him a Bible that he kept all his life.
Sunday afternoon at 2:30, June 4, 1939, Jesse Warner Erickson and Eva Garber Gaunt were united in marriage at the Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church in Zearing; the same church where George and Margaret were married six months prior. Eloise Mauer, a very close schoolmate from Iowa State Teachers College, was Eva’s Maid of Honor, an Lyle Hayden, a very close schoolmate from Iowa State University, was Jesse’s Best Man. After a honeymoon in Indiana, they returned to their leased farm near the Erickson homeplace.
After they were married, Jesse began taking drafting classes from a Chicago company by correspondence and loved the detailed work. In the summer of 1940 he read an advertisement in the Des Monines Register about the United Aircraft Training School in Wichita Kansas, and contacted the school for more information. A representative met with Jesse in October and invited them to see the school in Wichita at the school’s expense. It did not take much time to decide to check it out, so they made a visit in November 1940 and Jesse found this to be what he was looking for. They made a quick decision, and a commitment to start the school the first of December 1940.
After 18 months on their farm, Eva and Jesse sold their household goods and livestock and headed to Wichita where Jesse fully intended to complete the school as fast as he could so he could find a job. He finished in early February 1941, and was desperately hunting for a job because they were out of money and even had to stay with church friends. He landed a job later that February at Cardwell Manufacturing Company where he stayed until they closed their doors in 1972 and after 28 years of employment.
Jesse and Eva had their first son, Terry Duane Erickson born on February 28, 1943, then their second son came along, Joel Craig Erickson who was born November 14, 1945, then their daughter, Linda Kay Erickson came along on June 28, 1947.
As Jesse’s two boys grew older, Jesse became very involved with the scouting program, and he and Eva were at the center of the Cub Scout Pack in their church, then the Boy Scout Troop. They made numerous camping trips, sometimes they were local overnighters, some were week-long trips to Colorado. During those years he earned the Scouters Key (1956) and the Silver Beaver Award (1963). After his sons moved on from Boy Scouts, Jesse continued to be involved, mostly by working at Boy Scout National Jamborees (every four years); he attended the ones in 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, and 1989, and attended the Boy Scout World Jamborees in 1967 and 1983. He attended the Philmont Scout Ranch in 1980, was elected to the Alpha Phi Omega service organization and earned his Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow in 1983.
Jesse had many hobbies, loved woodworking and actually made “grandfather” clocks for his children. He and Eva made reindeer out of logs every Christmas and everyone in his family had one out at Christmas. He and Eva volunteered at the hospital gift shop, and were very active in their church and made many mission trips to help build shelters in Mexico and the United States. Saying Eva and Jesse is so easy because they were like two peas in a pod; they were always together till the end.
Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson, his wife of 50 years, two months, and 14 days, passed at the age of 76 years and 23 days, a short time after returning from the Boy Scout Jamboree with Jesse. Jesse remained alone and continued to live in Wichita, making numerous trips to his daughter Linda and her family in Tennessee, and Craig and his family in Colorado.
On September 8, 2009, Jesse Warner Erickson passed in Wichita, Kansas, at the age of 94 years, seven months, and 16 days. Jesse was interred beside his childhood sweetheart in White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Wichita, Kansas. Jesse was preceded in death by Eva, and his daughter Linda Kay Erickson who passed on July 13, 2004, at the age of 57 years and 15 days.
Jesse’s casket was specially selected -- it represented the old style wooden casket design to reflect his understanding of the history of his ancestors, it was made of solid walnut representing his passion for woodworking, it was handmade by Trappist monks reflecting the prayerful way Jesse approached life, and it was made in Iowa where his ancestors settled so long ago. At his funeral were roses because he loved growing roses all his life, one for each of his three children, one from each of his grandchildren, and one from each of his great-grandchildren. Also at the funeral was the small Bible that Eva held when she marred Jesse those 50 years prior.
Jesse was one of the instigators of beginning the Erickson-Gaunt Reunions and attended the one held in Iowa in the summer of 2009. At the reunion in the summer of 2011 the family dedicated a memorial stone in the Zearing Cemetery where his ancestors were all buried, and a service was held at the Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church where he and Eva were married 50 years ago, where George and Margaret were married, and where the funeral for Gladis, George and Jim Gaunt were held.
Jesse made homemade ice cream every summer, no matter where he might have been. He was the true Erickson-lover-of-homemade-ice-cream. Not just one bowl, not two, but maybe three or more. He loved his ice cream, and the early Gaunt recipe was the one that he used when they made ice cream long before they even married. He love the kringles that his mother made, and those that were a speciality of Sheri in Iowa and Kimberly in Colorado. His memory will always be with us every time we gather as a family, in Iowa or Colorado, or wherever future Erickson-Gaunt Reunions are held.
[This remembrance was put together by J. Craig Erickson based on information provided by the family. Any errors are mine, and changes to make it more accurate and complete are encouraged and welcomed.]
Dennis Earl Gaunt
Dennis “Denny” Earl Gaunt was born to George Arthur and Margaret Janet (Wickham) Gaunt on Saturday, May 3, 1941, in Marshalltown, Marshall County, Iowa. Dennis passed on April 18, 2015, at the age of 73 years, 11 months, and 15 days in the City of Golden, Jefferson County, Colorado.
Dennis spent the first few years of his life in or near Waverly, Bremer County, Iowa, where George and Margaret were living. Seven months after Dennis was born, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and this was the start of World War II. On November 25, 1942, Dennis was joined by a baby brother, James Howard Gaunt. During those early years there are many photographs of Dennis and Jim at Camp Hollywood (a motel) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which was owned and operated by Gladis and Earl Gaunt (Dennis’ paternal grandparents); there are a few of the boys in Waverly before George went into the military.
The small Gaunt family continued to live in the Waverly area with George driving a gasoline truck to care for his growing family. In 1944 George got his draft notice, and rather than joining the United States Army, he volunteered for service in the United States Navy, and was inducted on June 13, 1944. This left Margaret with their two small boys -- Dennis who was just over three years old and his brother “Jimmy” who was just one and a half years old. Margaret and her two small boys went off to stay with her mother for the duration of the war, and George was off to the Pacific to serve as a radar operator in U.S.S. Montpelier (CL-57). There are photographs of George with his family when he returned home after boot camp and before he deployed to Mare Island in San Francisco, California. George returned to San Diego, California, at about noon on Saturday, December 1, 1945 -- he had been away from his small family for about one and a half years. After George was reunited with his family, they returned to the area of Zearing.
The Gaunt family continued to grow, with another brother, Mark Alan Gaunt being born on July 21, 1953, a sister Sheryl “Sheri” Ann Gaunt being born on May 7, 1956, and another sister, Suzanne Kay Gaunt who was born on January 2, 1960.
Dennis went to public school in Zearing, graduating from the Zearing High School on Wednesday, May 27, 1959, the same high school that his parents graduated from a generation earlier. After graduation he followed in his father’s footsteps to serve his country, by joining the United States Navy as a dental and medical corpsman and was stationed in San Diego, California, serving also in Thailand and Okinawa.
Dennis and Ann Louise Couser were married on Friday, October 9, 1959, in San Diego, and together had three children -- Jerry Dennis Gaunt (San Diego, 1960), Tracy Lynne Gaunt (San Diego, 1961), and Shelly Rae Gaunt (Marshalltown, 1962). Dennis was honorably discharged from the United States Navy in June 1963 and he and his family returned to the Zearing area.
For the next five years (1963-68) Dennis worked the night shift for Fisher-Governor in Marshalltown, and worked part-time during the day at Herndon’s Body Shop in Zearing. During these days Dennis discovered how good the Tayor’s Maid-Rite sandwiches in Marshalltown were -- something he craved throughout his life, and never missed an opportunity to have another “Maid-Rite” sandwich.
Then Dennis developed a new interest and began a career in sales, first selling cattle oilers for Pamline Manufacturing Company in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Then it was on to insurance, working with the Olhausen Agency in Spencer, Iowa, in 1969 at which time he moved his family there in November. Having learned the ropes in insurance, he moved to the Old Northwest Company in 1971 where he worked until 1983.
In 1986 Dennis decided to leave Iowa and traveled out to Colorado, settling in the Denver area, and soon (1986) married Louise Cooper. Dennis worked as a night baker for King Soopers grocery stores in the Denver area, retiring in 2010. Dennis and Louise remained in the Denver area the rest of his life, enjoying the weather, sunsets, a host of friends that he and Louise developed, and of course, the Broncos football team. Dennis was an avid cribbage player, just like his father, and played in, and won, numerous tournaments.
Gladis Leo (Richardson) Gaunt, Dennis’ paternal grandmother and “matriarch” of the Gaunt family, passed in July 1969, then his father George Arthur Gaunt passed April 4, 1971 (55 years, five months, 25 days), then his mother, Margaret passed on Thursday, February 9, 2012 (91 years, one month, 22 days). Dennis was also preceded in death by his brother James Howard Gaunt in May 22, 1995 (52 years five months, 27 days), and his daughter Shelley Rae Gaunt who passed on Sunday, February 17, 2013 (50 years, five months, two days). Dennis was survived by his wife Louise, his brother Mark, his sisters Sheri and Suzanne, and his son Jerry and daughter Tracy, and their families.
Gladis and Earl Gaunt, paternal grandparents of Dennis, had two children, Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson and George Arthur Gaunt. George’s sister Eva passed in August 1989, and her husband of 50 years, Jesse Warner Erickson, passed in September 2009, leaving Dennis as the oldest of the descendents of Gladis and Earl Gaunt. With the passing of Dennis, Terry Duane Erickson, Eva’s oldest son, is now the oldest descendent of Gladis and Earl.
Dennis was an active supporter of the Erickson-Gaunt Reunions held in Iowa and Colorado every two years for the past 10 years. He was always on hand to sample, eat, and eat again, the homemade ice cream that was always a highlight.
The United States of America honored Dennis as a member of our armed forces through a memorial service at Fort Logan National Cemetery near Denver, Colorado. With full military honors, he was welcomed back into the arms of his comrades-in-arms as his ashes were interred in this national cemetery in June 2015. A 21-gun salute closed the ceremonies, a salute well deserved by all of our veterans. He will be missed by many, and will always be remembered in our future family reunions, especially when we have a bowel of home made ice cream.
[This remembrance was put together by J. Craig Erickson based on information provided by the family. Any errors are mine, and changes to make it more accurate and complete are encouraged and welcomed.]
George Arthur Gaunt
George Arthur Gaunt was born to Earl Marshall and Gladis Leo (Richardson) Gaunt on Tuesday, October 12, 1915, in Liscomb, Marshall County, Iowa. George passed on Sunday, April 4, 1971, in Zearing, Story County, Iowa, at the age of 55 years, five months, and 23 days.
George was the second child of the family with an older sister, Eva Garber Gaunt who was born July 26, 1913. The small Gaunt family lived in the Liscomb area, then near Mormon Ridge (near Zearing) for many years. George started school in the fall of 1922 at the “Arrasmith” one-room school house where his sister had been attending. George’s grandfather Arthur Davis Richardson, who was living with the Gaunts would take them to school every day, and pick them up in a horse and buggy using Eva’s horse Snicklefrtz. Eva and George then attended the “Ross” school where George continued through the eight grade.
Like his sister Eva, George transferred to the Lincoln Township Consolidated High School in Zearing, Iowa, where he graduated in May 1934. During the years following graduation, George lived with his parents for a while, and started working driving a gasoline truck. Eva kept house for him in 1937, through the time he was to marry in December 1939.
On Sunday, December 18, 1938, George Arthur Gaunt married Margaret Janet Wickham at the Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church in Zearing. After George and Margaret were married, they moved to Waverly, Bremer County, Iowa; Waverly is about 80 mile northeast of Zearing, about 20 miles due north of Waterloo, Iowa. There he continued to drive a gasoline truck.
George and Margaret had their first son Dennis Earl Gaunt on May 3, 1941, and then their second son, James Howard Gaunt came along on November 25, 1942, all the while living in Waverly. Just after their first son was born, the United States went to war with Germany and Japan, and resources of all kinds were being directed to sustaining and winning the war, including solders and sailors. In 1944 George received his draft notice, and rather than go into the United States Army, he decided to go into the United States Navy. He was inducted on June 13, 1944, and Margaret and their two sons went to stay with her parents.
George was older than most who went into the service as he was 28 and one-half years old at the time. He went to boot camp in Faragot, Idaho, and when he left by train, Eva and Jess and the rest of his family were there to send him off. He returned home after boot camp and there are several photographs of George in uniform with his family. During this time the United States Navy assigned him to be a radar operator, a new and emerging technology that was so unique that it was one of three major reasons the United States won the war. The farm boy from Iowa was a radar operator, and was assigned to the U.S.S. Montpelier (CL-57) a new light cruiser serving in the Pacific Theater of War. He went aboard his ship on October 24, 1944, and the ship departed Mare Island (San Francisco) the next day. Montpelier was a flag ship and during segments of her deployment a cruiser division admiral and his staff was aboard. It is not clear if George operated a radar for the captain of the ship, or as part of the admiral contingent.
Serving aboard Montpelier took George to Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), arriving there on October 30th, and from there it was on to Ulithi Atoll where they arrived November 20th. Reminders of war surrounded Montpelier when it arrived at the Ulithi Atoll where she stayed only long enough to refuel. Then they were enroute to the Battle of Mindora in the Philippines, and on November 27th, they were attacked by four Japanese Kamikazes, shooting them down, but with some minor damage to the ship. For the entire week there were continued threats of submarine attacks and aircraft raids, and they spent most of their time at battle stations. After arriving at Palau Island for refueling and rearmament, they arrive in Leyte Gulf to continue supporting the invasion of the Philippine Islands off and on through December. Through most of January 1945 Montpelier was constantly in danger as they continued to support the Luzon (Philippines) Invasion and shore bombardments. In early February George’s ship supported the retaking of Corregidor Island near Manila, and spent the rest of the month in Subic Bay (Philippines) where they were largely out of danger.
In late February Montpelier supported the Palawan Island invasion, then they remained in and around Subic Bay and Mangarin Bay for the rest of the month. In April Montpelier provided bombardment support off Mindanao Island (Philippines), and then it was back to Subic Bay for the rest of April and all of May. In June and into early July, George’s ship provided shore bombardment missions off of Borneo, then returning to San Pedro Bay, Leyte (Philippines).
Throughout July Montpelier made anti-shipping sweeps of the East China Sea, always returning to Subic Bay. In August Montpelier moved to Buckner Bay in Okinawa. On August 21, 1945, George left Montpelier and was assigned to Special Augmented Hospital Number 3 on Okinawa where he remained for 18 days; no one seemed to know what his medical situation was.
The day after George returned to his ship, Montpelier departed for Japan as part of the Wakayama Evacuation Unit to recover Allied Prisoners of War from the Japanese mainland. In September while anchored at Wakayama, Japan, Typhoon Ida hit the area and Montpelier and other ships had to ride out terrible weather, with George’s ship rolling 32 degrees to port, then 30 degrees to starboard, with winds exceeding 80 knots.
In early October Montpelier moved to Hiro Wan, Japan where she stayed for 39 days. On October 13, 1945, many of the men in Montpelier went on a sight-seeing trip to Hiroshima where the atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on August 6th, only 61 days prior. On Wednesday, November 15, 1945, the war duty of Montpelier was over and she departed Japan at 6:00 am. She was steaming home at a fast pace, stopping only briefly at Pearl Harbor, and passing from international waters into the United States territorial waters at 10:44 am on Saturday, December 1, 1945. Montpelier tied up to the pier in San Diego at 11:46 am, and as soon as the gangway was in place, a flood of sailors left the ship headed for home, including Radarman Third Class George Arthur Gaunt.
George Arthur Gaunt was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze starts, the Navy Occupation Services Medal (with clasp), and for his honorable discharge, the Discharge Button. U.S.S. Montpelier (CL-57) on which George served received 13 battlestars recognizing her participating is major battles in the Pacific during World War II, one of the most decorated ships in United States Navy. She is credited with sinking four Japanese warships, and shooting down seven Japanese aircraft during World War II.
George’s service in World War II really shaped the rest of his life. He never forgot about the war, and his two close buddies, Radarman Third Class Gerald Lloyd Nelson (Utah) and Radarman Second Class Herman Lindsey Bamburg (Texas). George even made a visit to Texas to visit his “brother-in-arms.”
The remainder of George’s life was spent in and around Zearing where his family grew with the birth of his third son, Mark Alan Gaunt on July 21, 1953, and two daughters, Sheryl “Sheri” Ann Gaunt being born May 7, 1956, and Suzanne Kay Gaunt being born January 2, 1960. For many years George owned and operated an International Harvester dealership, and after a few years he was driving a milk truck for a Zearing cheese factory.
Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson, George’s sister, captured her thoughts about George many years later when she wrote the following:
“George was a person everyone respected and trusted. He trusted everyone, too. He had friends wherever he worked or went. When he died people for miles around Zearing responded. He loved his family and would do anything for them that he could physically or financially do. He did not have a lot financially, but was willing to share whatever he had.
Suzie was his “boy.” She followed him almost wherever he went. He loved to garden. When he was in the garden, she was too. One of his favorite things to do was hunt for mushrooms in the spring. He would get up early and go out to the timber and come in with a pail of mushrooms.
Suzie went with him on his milk routes when she wasn’t in school. He liked the outdoors and perhaps that is why he ran an International Harvester dealership for several years. Whatever he did, he was always prompt and put everything he had into it.
Toward the end he was told not to lift or carry heavy things, but they needed to be done, so we heard afterward he had been helping to do that. He never complained. At the time of his death it was unbelievable how many people came to his funeral and how many cards were received. I think “Dinger” was the nickname he called Suzie. He spoke of her as “My Dinger.”
George loved to fish and nearly every year he would go to Canada to fish. He liked to take the family but Margaret didn’t like fishing so generally he would go with a group from Zearing. George would clean and fry his own fish. Whatever it was that he used on them, his fish was delicious. Maybe it was because we were eating them fresh and up where they were caught. I remember one time we went with them to Canada. Suzie was too little to go out in the boat so she took a little pole and went down to the dock. After a while we heard a scream so we went tearing down there to see what happened. She had caught a fish about ten inches long. We put it in a dish pan of water and she kept it to show George.
I can not think of anyone in Zearing or towns and country around Zearing that was any more respected than he was, which only shows that money isn’t everything that makes a person great in a community. He was rich in many other ways.”
George Arthur Gaunt was one of those people who you meet only once in a lifetime, and that acquaintance is something you always remembered. He passed on April 4, 1971, at the age of 55 years, five months, and 23 days. His funeral was held in the Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church in Zearing, the church where he married some 32 years prior, and he was interred in the Zearing Cemetery. He was preceded in death by his father Earl Marshall Gaunt (November 1959) at the age of 71 years, nine months, and 28 days. He was survived by his wife of over 32 years, and his five children Dennis Earl Gaunt, James Howard Gaunt, Mark Alan Gaunt, Sheryl Ann Gaunt, and Suzanne Kay Gaunt, and their families, as well as his sister Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson.
After the interment prayers, the United States Navy rendered a 21 gun salute to their “brother-in-arms” who was laid to rest on the rolling green hills of Iowa after serving his country as one of the “Greatest Generation” -- a term coined by Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went onto fight World War II. Our salute to Radarman Third Class George Arthur Gaunt (973-14-42) who will be remembered forever!
Back to the Erickson-Gaunt Reunions. While George and Margaret lived in Zearing, it was always a summer tradition to have homemade ice cream at their house on various weekends and on holidays. George was the master of making ice cream using his hand-crank ice cream maker. The recipe he used came from Gladis Gaunt and while everyone then, and even today, called it vanilla ice cream, it probably would be more accurate to call it more of a lemon ice cream. This recipe was always used by Eva and Jesse Erickson when they made ice cream. In all of the recent Erickson-Gaunt Reunions there is always plenty of homemade ice cream, same recipe (except without the fresh cream from the cheese factory in Zearing), and with electric ice cream makers rather than hand-cranking. Thank you George for the memories, inspirations, and traditions that only you could have given to our families!
James Howard Gaunt
James “Jim” Howard Gaunt was born to George Arthur and Margaret Janet (Wickham) Gaunt on Sunday, November 25, 1942, in Waverly, Bremer County, Iowa. Jim passed on Monday, May 22, 1995, at the age of 52 years, five months, and 27 days in the City of Edina, Hennepin County, Minnesota.
Jim spent the first year and a half of his life with his family in Waverly where George and Margaret were living, and the United States had been at war with Japan and Germany for over two and a half years. He was the second child born to George and Margaret, with an older brother Dennis Earl Gaunt who was born May 3, 1941. During those early years there are many photographs of Dennis and Jim at Camp Hollywood (a motel) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which was owned and operated by Gladis and Earl Gaunt (Jim’s paternal grandparents); there are a few of the boys in Waverly before George went into the military.
The small Gaunt family had been living in the Waverly area with George driving a gasoline truck to care for his growing family when in 1944 George got his draft notice. Rather than joining the United States Army, George volunteered for service in the United States Navy, and was inducted on June 13, 1944. This left Margaret with their two small boys -- Dennis who was just over three years old and his brother “Jimmy” who was just one and a half years old. Margaret and her two small boys went off to stay with her mother for the duration of the war, and George was off to the Pacific to serve as a radar operator in U.S.S. Montpelier (CL-57). There are photographs of George with his family when he returned home after boot camp and before he deployed to Mare Island in San Francisco, California. George returned to San Diego, California, at about noon on Saturday, December 1, 1945 -- he had been away from his small family for about one and a half years. After George was reunited with his family, they returned to the area of Zearing.
As Jim was growing up, a new brother joined the family with Mark Alan Gaunt being born on July 21, 1953, a sister Sheryl “Sheri” Ann Gaunt was born on May 7, 1956, and another sister, Suzanne Kay Gaunt, was born on January 2, 1960.
Jim went to public school in Zearing, graduating from the Zearing High School in May 1959, the same high school that his parents graduated from a generation earlier, and where his brother Dennis graduated the year prior. After high school, in 1960, he joined the United States Air Force and became an Airman Second Class and a band member playing the trumpet. In 1960 his brother Dennis was already serving in the United States Navy, leaving George and Margaret at home in Zearing with his younger brother Mark (seven years old), and sisters Sheri (four years old) and Suzanne who was just a baby. One of Jim’s duties in the United States Air Force, and as a volunteer after he was honorably discharged, was to play taps at the funeral services of other military veterans.
When Jim left the United States Air Force, he came to Wichita, Kansas, where Jesse and “Aunt” Eva Erickson lived and he stayed with them, landing a job washing airplanes. While living with Jesse and Eva, their second son, Joel Craig Erickson and Jim hit it off and devised great schemes to make money. One such scheme was to raise chinchillas for their fur and to get funding, they talked to Mrs. Martha Langlois who lived across the street from the Ericksons. Nothing came of this and Jim soon moved back to Zearing.
Sometime late 1964 or early 1965, Jim was hired by Northwest Airlines in “equipment services” as a baggage handler in Chicago, Illinois. On April 2, 1965, James Howard Gaunt married Karen Kay Reisetter at the Salem Lutheran Church in Radcliffe, Iowa, on that Saturday evening. Jim’s brother Dennis was his “best man,” Suzanne Gaunt (Jim’s baby sister) was a flower girl, and Jerry Gaunt (Dennis’ son) was the ring bearer. After the wedding, Jim and Karen moved to Chicago where they lived the next few years until Jim was transferred to the St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Jim and Karen had their first child, a son they named Travis Wayne Gaunt, who was born November 23, 1971; Travis Wayne Gaunt lived only three days before passing, and was interred in the Zearing Cemetery. In 1973 Jim and Karen adopted a baby girl then named Michelle Ann Gaunt, born July 2, 1973. Then, on November 25, 1975, Jim and Karen had a baby girl they named Robyn Marie Gaunt.
On Monday, May 22, 1995, while working on the ramp at his baggage handler job at the St. Paul International Airport, James Howard Gaunt died from a massive heart attack; he was just 52 and one-half years old.
Jim was a guy everyone liked, always with a quick smile, and a kind good-natured person with a great sense of humor. He developed many great friends while working at the St. Paul International Airport who, after his passing, had many stories about him and what a truly nice man he was. Among his friends he had earned the nickname of “Grip” because of his strong handshake.
Music was a significant part of Jim’s life whether singing in the choir or playing his trumpet at their church throughout his life in Minneapolis. He would often get together with friends to play his trumpet, and often played his trumpet in a quartet with his buddies. Another of Jim’s passions was roller skating at which he was an expert and could literally “dance” on his skates. Jim would often take his daughters skating when they were growing up, and for his 50th birthday, they had a surprise roller skating party for him.
Jim was a man that was always “on the go” and enjoyed all kinds of sports, whether it was playing cards, volleyball, softball, fishing, or camping, and he often did this with his family. Jim and Karen loved to travel and they often took their daughters with them, and he loved to go on bike rides and take long walks. Jim lived each day to the fullest, always with a warm grin on his face and hard candy in his pocket, and was a such a gentle caring soul.
James Howard Gaunt was returned to Zearing for his funeral services at the Bethel United Methodist Church, where his parents many years earlier were married, where the funeral service for his father George Arthur Gaunt was held, and the service for his son Travis Wayne Gaunt was also held. James Howard Gaunt was survived by his wife Karen of almost 30 years, his two daughters Michelle Ann Gaunt and Robyn Marie Gaunt, and his brothers Dennis and Mark, and his two sisters Sheri and Suzanne.
In that quiet cemetery on the rolling hills of Iowa after the internment prayers, a military honor guard rendered a 21 gun salute to their “brother-in-arms,” and taps were played by a bugler followed by the echo from a second bugler in the far distance, with the befitting send-off (words to “taps”):
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, ‘neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh
Even though the Erickson-Gaunt reunions began after Jim’s passing, many of us always thought he was always with us, watching us enjoy the homemade ice cream which he enjoyed so much, and the gathering of family members. His daughter Robyn Marie (Gaunt) Vitch has picked up the mantel and has been active in planning and participating in the on-going family reunions.
Linda Kay (Erickson) Rogers
Linda Kay Erickson was born to Jesse Warner and Eva Garber (Gaunt) Erickson on Saturday, June 28, 1947, in Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas. Linda passed on Tuesday, July 13, 2004, in Jasper, Tennessee, at the age of 57 years and 15 days.
Linda was the third of three children born to Jesse and Eva, with Terry Duane Erickson being born on February 28, 1943, and Joel Craig Erickson on November 14, 1945. Linda grew up at her home at 553 South Madison, attended Willard Elementary School, Roosevelt Intermediate, and East High School in Wichita. Linda graduated on Monday, May 31, 1965.
Linda lived at home until she married Roy Alan Rogers on Friday, March 11, 1966, in Wichita, Kansas. Together Linda and Roy had three children -- Shawn Linnae Rogers born Tuesday, October 11, 1966 (Wichita); Robi Kay Rogers born Saturday, August 30, 1969 (Denver, Colorado); and Chad Thomas Rogers on Tuesday, February 23, 1971 (Denver, Colorado).
After Linda and Roy married they moved to Boulder, Boulder County, Colorado, where they made their home for several years. Both Roy and Linda worked at Rocky Flats Plant, a United States nuclear weapons production facility. In 1979 Roy and Linda and their three children moved to St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, were they lived for 21 years, with most of that time living on a sailboat.
In 2000 with their children grown, they moved to Jasper, Tennessee where they bought land and were going to build a house, but instead they settled in the small town. For most of Linda’s life in Florida, which continued when they moved to Tennessee, was to work as a bookkeeper for about 20 years. Linda had many hobbies, from sewing to cross-stitching and crocheting, to stained glass art, making candles, and gardening. She learned from her mother Eva, the wonderful art of making candy and cookies for everyone.
Linda passed on July 13, 2004, at the age of 57 years and 15 days at home in Jasper, Marion County, Tennessee. He funeral was held in their church, McRendree United Methodist Church in Jasper, and her ashes were interred in the Jasper Cemetery. She was survived by her husband Roy Rogers of 38 years, four months, and two days, her daughters Shawn and Robi, and son Chad, and her father Jesse and her two brothers Terry and Craig. She was preceded in death by her mother Eva who passed on August 18, 1989.
Linda was never able to attend our later Erickson-Gaunt Reunions, but she is always remembered when our families gather. Her daughter Robi has picked up that mantle and is helping with the reunions representing her family.