Donald Gehring, 89, Garrison, died suddenly, but peacefully on Monday, December 4th, 2023, at his home. He didn’t die with his boots on, but he was comfortable at home and would have said, “That was a good enough ending!” Memorial services will be held on Saturday, January 6th, 2024, at 10:30 am at the First Congregational Church in Garrison. Following church services, please join the family at Ben Gehring’s residence (one mile south of Garrison on County 15) for food, refreshments, and sharing of memories.
Donald George Gehring was born October 10, 1934, in Garrison, ND to Ludwig “Luke” and Freeda (Robbins) Gehring. He attended school until the 10th grade and then entered the US Navy with some friends serving from 1953 – 1957. Upon returning from the Navy, Don met and married Arlene Bold on June 21, 1959, at the First Congregational Church in Garrison. They made their home just south of Garrison and raised five children. Don was a cowboy! As a young boy, he lived next to the rodeo grounds and had horses throughout his life. He broke horses, went on cattle drives and shared that love with his wife and children. While in the service, Don found his talent as a heavy equipment operator. He was a Seabee which set the course for a lifelong career, almost all with the Northern Improvement Company. He was a part of constructing all the current and past power plants, missile sites, and the Minot Air Force Base. Don was a very skilled operator and could run every piece of equipment but was most skilled with an excavator. He retired in 1996 and really started living.
During his retirement, Don spent most of his time tinkering in his garage and yard. Beyond his talents as an operator, he was an extremely creative and artistic man. He could fix, weld, build, or create virtually anything. He built many of his own machines and tools out of necessity as many in ND do! One machine in particular was a snow machine we kids called a Doodlebug, a tracked machine that went across the deep snow during our ND winters. He spent countless hours working on wrecked vehicles with his boys, always having the utmost patience. Well, not so much on the patience part! He also went into the gravedigging business with his boys. Together they started BD Excavating. Don’t ask what BD stands for. Don later picked up the art of wood carving with his chainsaw. Behind the prodding of Arlene, he carved numerous stumps and chunks of wood into beautiful bears and other animals. Many people may also remember the huge Christmas light display he put up when the Dickens Festival started. What Don loved most, however, was hunting and fishing with his boys. Even though he considered some days on the water with Brian as torture with “just one more pass” and days hunting with Todd as “walking to Ecuador” for deer, he rarely missed a chance to go with them.
Don was far from a perfect man, but he grew as a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. That was truly the greatest gift he gave to his family. They will embrace some of the not-so-great memories and will never forget the things he did for them, the Don-isms, the laughter he unknowingly provided to them, and the strength he passed on to them. It’s now time to have your peace, Don.
Don is survived by his wife of 64 years, Arlene; sons, Jeff (Tracy), Cottage Grove, MN, Todd (Michelle), Brian (Kim), Ben (Collette); all of Garrison; daughter Karri (David) Street, Ferndale, WA; grandchildren, Sarah (Matt) Chase, Jessica Gehring, Drew Gehring (Emily Wilson), Luke Gehring, Shelby (Michael Hatzenbuhler) Gehring, Ellie (Hunter) Jacobs, Gage and Mia Gehring, McKayla, Brandon, and Daniel Brummer; one sister, Donna Mae Dushek; three great-granddaughters McCall, Palmer, and Brees Chase, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister and brother-in-law, Marlene and Milo Mautz, and two brothers-in-law, Bill Crossland and Ray Dushek