Wendell Paul Gnat
April 23, 1935 ~ April 1, 2016
Wendell Paul Gnat, 80, Sioux Falls, died Friday, April 1, 2016 at the Sioux Falls, VA Medical Center.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00am, Friday, April 8, 2016, at Holy Name Catholic Church, Watertown, with visitation beginning one hour prior. Inurnment will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery with Full Military Honors. The family will be gathering for a visitation/open house Thursday evening April 7, from 5-10pm, at the Quality Inn (just North of McDonalds) in Watertown.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be given to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Shriners Hospital for Children.
Wendell Paul Gnat was born April 23, 1935 on the family farm in Kingsbury County, South Dakota to Edward and Bertha (Giles) Gnat. Wendell was the seventh of ten children born to Bertha & Edward. Wendell’s parents were farmers who also raised hogs, milked cows, chickens, a large garden and farmed. Wendell attended grade school at Heartland 36 in Kingsbury County and attended Bryant High School. He graduated in May 1954. He was born and raised a Catholic and attended St. Mary’s Church, Bryant SD. Wendell also taught the younger boys how to serve mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He helped his family and neighbors plant their crops in the spring of each year, and harvest in the fall. He also had to milk cow’s. He hauled his younger siblings to school to Bryant, SD. Wendell loved to farm. That was his ambition in life.
Wendell attended Bryant High School and was very active in sports, but only if he got his chores done at home first. In High school, he played football (all-state 1952, 1953, 1954), basketball (Conference All-Star Team 1952-1954), track (1952, 1953, 1954), received a medal for shot put (1952, 1953, 1954), 440 and high jump, receiving many medals and awards for sports. Wendell graduated in 1954 and his teacher got him a job at Yankton Gavin’s Point Dam where he worked until 1955. He bought his first car; a ford, in 1955. He sent money home monthly to pay for the car.
In April 1955, Wendell was drafted into the US Army. Wendell trained in Arkansas and Ft. Carson, CO. where he was selected to report to Fr. Meyer, VA. 3rd Army Infantry Regiment; a/k/a the Presidential Honor Guard under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Wendell served from 1955 to 1957. After discharge, he moved to Watertown and worked various jobs, including various gas stations and eventually owning, “Wendell’s Standard Station” in 1960. He also worked at Firestone and Park Grant (Nash Finch). He met his wife, JoAnn Cordell, and they were married December 30, 1957. They celebrated their 58th anniversary in 2015. Wendell attended Lake Area Vocational School for four years, in Farming & Mechanical work as well as Financial Planning. Wendell served on the Sheridan Township arranging repair, snow removal and gravel as needed and also helped with road repairs. At Christmas time he would play Santa Claus in the neighborhood and surprised the children. None of the neighbors caught on until a couple years later.
Wendell and family moved to Appleby, SD in May 1962. They started out with one milk cow and made monthly payments to Jerry Loken until the cow was paid in full. In a few years, we purchased milk cows, raised hogs, farmed, eventually had stock cows. He did custom baling, corn picking, corn shelling and raised all his feed for animals with the help of his family. He enjoyed fishing with family, pheasant hunting and deer hunting with his sons. Wendell also played surprise Santa Claus for several years in the neighborhood. It took a couple years before they figured who he actually was. He also played Santa at card parties and Christmas parties also.
In 1989, Wendell and JoAnn sold their farm at Appleby, SD and moved to Omaha, NE. in September 1990. After moving to Omaha, Wendell and JoAnn both volunteered at the Veterans Hospital. He worked two jobs at a nursery (40 acres) where he planted corn, pumpkins and helped to keep nursery customers happy. Wendell was then employed by the Millard School System for 10 years. His final position was at Millard West High School, Millard, NE, as a grounds person. The school had 2,500 students. This was a new high school so he had his hands full with farming, fixing, tree planting, marking football fields, tracks & baseball diamonds, including mowing grass, snow removal and upkeep of tractors & mowers. He was honored as a guest of honor at all football and softball banquets with a standing ovation. He received an award from Millard Schools: a lifetime membership to all the activities of Millard West High School and others and was selected by students of the Annual School Book as special employee honored for all his help.
In 2007, the couple moved back to Huron, SD and he enjoyed time with the grandkids fishing, and going to their school events and activities. In November 2011 moved to Sioux Falls, SD for medical reasons.
Wendell is survived by wife, JoAnn (South Dakota), Edward (Kelly) Gnat (California), Rodney Gnat (Florida), Jeffrey (Tammy) Gnat (South Dakota), Joel (Heather) Gnat (Minnesota), Jody (Damon) Adams (South Dakota) and Gerry Isackson (South Dakota), by 17 grand children and 12 great grand children as well as several nieces and nephews; and by special friends: Henry Hanten, Dale & Teresa Waba, Darwin & Kay Latt, Pike & Joan Hemp, Norm and Cathy Moffit, Gene and Dorothy Klucas and Joe Tooley.
Wendell was preceded in death by his parents Edward and Bertha (Giles) Gnat, Evelyn (Morris) Storhaug, Marion (Jack) Schmidt, Mildred Keiser, Cecil Gnat, Armand Borick and Marty Gnat, and by nieces and nephews, James Storhaug, Wallace Storhaug, Lawanna Gnat, Marlene Thompson, Chris Robenalt and Jesse Gomez; and Mary Ann Cordell (Sister-in-Law), Jesse James Cordell (Nephew), James Cordell (Brother-in-Law), Dennis Cordell (Brother-in-Law) and Lorraine (Ray) DeVille (Sister-in-Law).
Memorials to St. Jude Children’s Hospital
P.O. Box 50
Memphis, TN 38101-9929 1-800-4ST-JUDE
or Shriners Hospital for Children
510 S. Phillips Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57104 605-336-1117