Gordon VanFossen (1929-2011)

We lost one of our VanFossen family members this week. Gordon W. VanFossen, 82, of Billings, Montana. There is currently an obituary listed on the Dahl Funeral Chapel site. For posterity, we include it here.

Name: Gordon W. VanFossen

Dates:
Birth date: July 31, 1929
Death date: January 04, 2012

Obituary:
Gordon W. VanFossen, 82, passed away January 4, 2012 at his home in Billings, Montana. He was born July 31, 1929 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Helen (Wagner) and Clarence M. VanFossen. Gordon attended schools in Tulsa, graduating from Central High School in 1947. He then went on to graduate from University of Tulsa with a degree in Petroleum Engineering. He married Patricia Gladson on March 26, 1948. They had three children. He worked as a Petroleum Engineer and lived in Elk City, OK; Casper, WY; Houston, TX; Glendive and Billings, MT. He worked for Shell Oil, Spellman Prentice, Great Northern Drilling and Cenex, and did consulting after he retired. He and Patty were long time members of Grace United Methodist Church. Patty passed away in 1998.

Gordon enjoyed hiking and being in the Montana mountains. He sang in many choirs and participated in many service organizations, including many years of service to the Boy Scouts.

Gordon married Ruth Pitcher in 2000 in Red Lodge, MT. They lived there for several years until they moved to the Mission Ridge Retirement Home.

Gordon was preceded in death by his parents and his first wife, Patty. He is survived by his wife Ruth, of Billings; three children, Susan (Larry) Iacopini of Billings; Steven (Jan) VanFossen of Missoula; Shevin (Tim) Stewart of Meridan, Idaho; six grandchildren, Tracy (Iacopini) Brockman of Houston; Vince (Cindy) Iacopini of Billings; Dax VanFossen of Kalispell; Ali (Matt) Mandell of Helena; Drew VanFossen of Missoula; Jennifer (Matt) Hall of Kent, Washington; six great-grandchildren and one on the way. He is survived by brothers, Gary (Dorothy) VanFossen and Kent (Lynda) VanFossen of Tulsa, OK and many nieces and nephews.

Service:
Memorial Services will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday, January 14, 2012 at the Mission Ridge Retirement Home. Private interment will take place at Mountview Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Salvation Army, 2100 6th Ave. N. Billings, MT 59101.

Gordon was the brother of Kent and Gary VanFossen, and Kent is the father of my husband, Brent.

We spent too short a time visiting with Gordon and his first wife, Patty, not long before her death. We had just hit the road and spent a couple weeks with them in 1997 on our way back from Alaska and heading south for the winter.

We spent many hours listening to their stories (and telling a few of our own), especially his stories of working in the oil industry during its heyday, and growing up with his two crazy younger brothers.

We only had a few meetings since then as our travels took us far and wide.

In 2005, Gordon made medical history as we reported in “Cooling technique prevents brain damage | Taking Your Camera on the Road.” He had a heart attack. A representative of the then new body cooling device had just that morning talked to the doctor treating Gordon. Desperate to save Gordon’s life from the heart and potential brain damage, he tracked down the representative and told him he wanted to test-drive the new equipment right then and there. The family believes this is what saved his life, or at least the quality of his life for the next 6 years playing golf and traveling.

Two hours after getting the news about Gordon, I was driving to a doctor appointment of my own and heard on the radio of a high school football player who collapsed during a practice. He was rushed to the local hospital and was currently in serious but stable condition as the doctors cooled his body down using the same hypothermia process. It’s now used frequently to lower the body temperate and give the body time to heal itself. How far this technology has come from Gordon’s experience.

As the family prepares to travel to Montana for the funeral and services, our thoughts are with all of them during this grieving time. Gordon left a huge legacy, and he will leave a huge hole in our hearts which we will soon fill with the memories he left behind.

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About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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2 Responses to Gordon VanFossen (1929-2011)

  1. Pingback: Lorelle’s World as of January 12th, 2012 | Taking Your Camera on the Road

  2. David L. Van Fossen says:

    I trace my own genealogy to Emigrant Arnold. My information is that he settled in Germantown (now a part of Philadelphia) and many of his descendants remained in the same area for a few generations before my branch of the family relocated to Belmont County, Ohio and later Noble County, Ohio. Four generations of VanFossens are buried at Crum Ridge and Mt. Tabor Cemeteries. Before leaving Pennsylvania several of our ancestors were laid to rest at the local Mennonite Cemetery. The first Mennonite church in North America (to the best of my knowledge) was built on land acquired from our Arnold Van Fossen. My great grandfather was a survivor of the horrors of the infamous Andersonville Prison where he as incarcerated as a POW during the Civil War. Does any of this info ring a bell for you? Regards, your cousin (or something!) David L. Van Fossen

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