In Memory of Gary R. Bohn

February 7, 1937 - December 4, 2023

Gary Roy Bohn was born on February 7, 1937 to Roy and Hazel Bohn in Staples, Minnesota. He lived his early years in Mallard, Iowa until moving to Frederic, Wisconsin during grade school. He graduated from Frederic High School in 1955 and achieved a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry at the University of Minnesota. He married Susan Stower in 1958 and soon began a career with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at the state forests in northern Wisconsin, where he became manager of the Brule River State Forest. The number of porcupines he eliminated from damaging trees was recorded to be in the hundreds. He moved the family to Burnett County to work for a private company as a forester, then again for the DNR for a few more years. After short stints working with the family’s businesses and Burnett Dairy, Gary finally settled into working as a tool operator at Parker Hannifin in Grantsburg from which he retired after 22 years. For many years he worked nights so that he could attend his children's sports events and tend his garden. Gary also served as a Trade Lake area representative on the Burnett County Board for ten years, drawing on his forestry background. The county board also appointed him as trustee for the Northern Waters Library Service, which he diligently served.

Gary continued to be well read and maintain a desire for further knowledge throughout his years, trusting in science and making decisions based on Christ’s teachings and truth. He enjoyed the opportunity to visit every state in the US, with the exception of LA and NJ. Many of those state visits were facilitated by the many moves of his children Andrea, now living in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Steven, now living in Battle Ground, Washington, while Geoffrey remains closer to home in Rice Lake and frequently traveled with his parents in the 80’s. Additionally, Gary made international trips to Europe, including Scandinavia, as well as Central America.

For the many experiences he had in the United States and the World, he really enjoyed his home in the rural Grantsburg area. He was a man of four seasons; He enjoyed the cold, snowy months of the winter, burning wood to keep the house warm. But also anxious to get outside to keep the wild birds fed and the driveway cleared of snow. Spring was a busy time of the year, beginning with the warming days and collection of maple tree sap, which he would boil down to make 15 – 25 quarts of syrup, gifting most to family and friends. It was also a time the black bears awoke to begin the annual competition with Gary to reach the bird feeder; an inch or two of space usually determined the winner. Spring work continued with garden prep and the first planting. Gary did take time for a Memorial Day fishing trip in Ontario each year with Geoffrey and friends. The summer brought more gardening and the fruits of labor with beautiful flowers and vegetables. It also included one of his favorite events of the year, his fly-in fishing trip to Smoothrock Lake in Ontario, rarely missing a year since 1986. He had plans to go next summer. Fall was another busy time of the year with the garden harvest, black walnuts to be processed after falling off the trees, and pressing apple juice from his small orchard (twenty five gallons were processed this year!). He also enjoyed the fall colors and local wildlife for observation or harvest.

Gary enjoyed his time alone in the garden or jigging for walleyes on the lake, but also his time at family gatherings and with the many neighborly friends who would stop by for a visit, bring food, or take away some of the produce, flowers, or other gifts generated by his hands. He is known for the beautiful gladiolas he raised and the best sweet corn in the area. He loved his children: Geoffrey (Sandie), who was his most frequent fishing and hunting partner, and also helped him as the local responder to many emergencies and trips for medical treatments. Steven (Rachel), who arranged fishing trips in the Florida gulf stream for ocean fish, and the rivers of the PNW for salmon and sturgeon and was able to spend weeks at a time helping him with appointments and completion of tasks from his list. Andrea (Pat Legal), who took him along on a couple of adventurous Alaska river rafting trips he thoroughly enjoyed. She was with him when he most needed her and also his primary medical care advisor and kept him accountable to follow doctor’s orders.

Gary loved his grandchildren and enjoyed attending their events throughout their lives even if they were half a country away. Dr. Kevin Bohn, DPT (Anna) from Camas, WA, Ryan Bohn from Eau Claire, WI, and Abigail Bohn from Vancouver, WA. Gary was disturbed by the rising cost of a college education in the US and committed to make a difference through his voting decisions and generously gifting his grandchildren, high schools, and universities with scholarships.

Gary had an expressed goal to live to be 100 years old. Though he was living with only 2/3 of one kidney and had multiple rounds of throat cancer treatments, he continued to fight to achieve that goal until the evening of December 4, 2023 when he moved on to this final season – the infinite one of abundant harvest, brightest and most aromatic flowers of eternity.

In addition to his children and grandchildren, he is survived by his sister Wanel Hansen, brother Alan (Wilma), sister in laws Carol Bohn, Pat (Jim) Anderson, and many nieces, nephews, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, his bride Susan, infant children Thomas and Joan, brother Dennis, brother in laws Earl Hansen and Pharis Harvey Stower (Marilyn), a niece and a nephew.

Gary was an incredibly good, kind, and generous person and will be fondly remembered for his strong and demonstrative opinions on Minnesota Gopher sporting events and politics, even after he had trouble speaking. Additionally, some of us will always remember the nicknames given and geological markers from times of hunting, fishing, and starting fires, some intentionally, some not, and even some in the rain.

In lieu of flowers, Gary’s legacy would benefit from donations to the Trade Lake Swedish Mission Church, Central United Methodist Church in Grantsburg, or your favorite organization recognizing and fighting the challenges we face with climate change.

A funeral service will be held on Sunday, December 17, 2023 at 3:00 PM (visitation 1-3 PM) at Trade Lake Swedish Mission Church.

Last Update: Dec 10, 2023 5:05 pm CST

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