Mike Gustafson - April 08, 2011Mike Gustafson, 87, of Aurora, died Friday, April 8, 2011, at Memorial Community Care.
Funeral services will be held 11 a.m., Monday, April 11, at the Evangelical Free Church in Aurora. Rev. Vance Christie will officiate. Family burial will be at 9:30 a.m. prior to the service at the Monroe Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Higby-McQuiston Mortuary.
Memorials may be made to Aurora Evangelical Free Church. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at www.higbymortuary.com.
Myron (Mike) Joseph Gustafson of Aurora was surrounded by family as he passed away on April 8, 2011, under care of hospice at Aurora Memorial Care Center. He died as well as he lived, full of hope and love, humility and resolve.
The grandson of Swedish immigrants, Mike was the seventh of eight children born to Joseph and Esther Gustafson, on May 29, 1923 on a farm near the Platte River in Hamilton County, northwest of Aurora. He grew up on the same farm, attended a rural schoolhouse a quarter mile away (Dist. 59) and, as a teenager, was confirmed and baptized as a member of Monroe Evangelical Free Church located three miles from his home.
Mike, as he was known to family and friends from far and wide, remained committed throughout his life to being a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, neighbor, church elder, friend and community leader. His enduring legacy to this world will be his unwavering faith in Christ, his unwavering commitment to his family and his unwavering dedication to fairness and progress in the larger community arena.
After graduating from Phillips High School in 1941, Mike was declared an essential farm worker throughout World War II, and was drafted into the Army only upon the return of three brothers from their wartime service in the Pacific Theater. He served as a company clerk at the rank of Sergeant Major, first at Fort Lee in Virginia and later at Fort Omaha. Mike then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he earned a bachelor of science degree in agriculture with a certificate in journalism. While at the university, he served as president of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship, the editor of the ag page of the Daily Nebraskan, a member of Alpha Zeta Ag Honorary and Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Honorary.
On Sept. 1, 1950, Mike married Leone Meredith Seashore of Minneapolis, Minn. and they settled into life on their Phillips corn farm. To supplement their income over the next decade, as they sought to raise three children along with more than a few cows and chickens, Mike taught a Hamilton County Veterans in Agriculture class and wrote news features and a column on agricultural issues called Agri-View for the Grand Island Daily Independent (he placed the day’s milk and cream into the trunk of his car and dropped them off at the Grand Island Creamery on his way to work).
In 1962, the family moved off the farm into the city of Aurora, where Mike combined with Arthur Anderson in forming a business partnership in Farm Management, Real Estate and Insurance. The firm of Anderson-Gustafson was a fixture of commercial life on the east side of courthouse square in Aurora for more than 40 years.
Myron’s activities on behalf of both church and community organizations across the years were broad and diverse. He served as president of the national Free Church Youth Fellowship during his university years, and remained involved in support of both the Evangelical Free Church of America as well as its affiliated schools, Trinity College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Deerfield, Ill. Mike served 14 years on the Aurora District 4R School Board, a year as president of the Nebraska Association of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, a year as president of the Aurora Rotary Club, and Hamilton County board member of the Nebraska Weed Control Association, as well as president of the Hamilton County Foundation Board of Directors.
With one vocational foot in town and one in the country, Mike eventually described his work as offering him the best of both worlds. One of Mike’s fondest town memories was of his work in the 1960s as the Hamilton County Justice of the Peace. His children can recall many events both poignant and humorous during those years, from his interactions with State Patrolmen describing their highway encounters while on patrol, to last-minute weddings orchestrated in Mike’s own family home for young couples needing an appropriate setting for their nuptial vows. The ultimate geographical love for this perennial farm boy, however, remained the lush, irrigated soil and crops of the countryside in which he grew up, and he would look forward almost every day of his life to an afternoon drive into the country. He was an avid hunter and fisherman in his younger days, and was never more in his element in his later years than when spotting wildlife of one variety or another in their natural habitat near or far.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Leone of Aurora; three children, Deb (Bob) Olson of Lakewood, Colo., Bradley (Sally) Gustafson of Scottsbluff and Gary Gustafson of Aurora; three grandchildren, Lindsey (Jon) Hodges of Lakewood, Colo., Julie (Tony) Bolos of Edinburgh, Scotland and Michael (Stephanie) Olson of Lakewood, Colo.; three great-grandchildren, Nora and Kate Hodges and Emeline Bolos and a sister, Eldora Nelson of Rockford, Ill.
He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers, Milton, Wesley, Keith and Phil Gustafson and a brother and sister in infancy, Miles and Dorothy Gustafson.