Gordon Kluksdahl


(July 17, 2008)

Memorial services for Gordon Kluksdahl, 82, of Powell, will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, July 23, at the First United Methodist Church. He died Thursday, July 17 in Billings, after a long battle against complications following heart surgery. His wife and children were at his side.

He was born Dec. 1, 1925 at the Kluksdahl family homestead near Buffalo, S.D., the fifth of eight children. He attended first grade at Cameron County School near Buffalo, from 1931-1932. After the death of his mother in 1932, the younger children were sent to various friends and relatives. He eventually went to Edwin and Ida Johnson's farm near Crooks, S.D., and they later became his foster parents. He lived at the farm for seven years and attended grades three through eight at Excelsior (Trobak) School. He returned to Buffalo where he graduated from high school in 1944.

Gordon joined the U.S. Army in 1945 and attained the rank of corporal in the Cannon Company, 19th Infantry Division, and was in the Army of Occupation in Japan following the conclusion of World War II. He returned to the States and in 1947 attended college at Black Hills State Teachers College in Spearfish, S.D., where he graduated in 1950 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Education.

In the fall of 1950 he started teaching seventh grade in Bridger, Mont., but was called back into service for the Korean Conflict, stationed at Fort Riley, Kans. After his discharge in 1951, he taught the second semester as a seventh grade teacher in Greybull.

He married Donna Delores Dennis, whom he met while attending college in Spearfish, on Aug. 17, 1952 in Miles City, Mont. He returned to Bridger in the fall of 1952 as a teacher and boys basketball coach. During his eight years in Bridger he became a high school social studies teacher, high school principal, and superintendent of schools. During the summers, he worked on his post-graduate program at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and in 1956 he received his Master of Arts degree in Elementary Supervision.

While in Bridger, four children were born: Gary John in 1953, Dennis Lee in 1954, and twins Karen Ann and Ken Allen in 1957. In 1960, the family moved to Powell where a fifth child, Mark David, was born in 1963. While in Powell, Gordon taught in the elementary schools, as well as holding positions of building principal, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. During his career he held every position in the school system from elementary teacher to superintendent, and served on almost every committee pertaining to the education system. He retired in 1984 and made his home in Powell continuously from 1960 to the present.

Gordon's career afforded him the opportunity to take summers off, which he spent working construction or other activities. He worked on the Hungry Horse Dam project in northwestern Montana, at an apiary while in Bridger, and for Charlie Kirkham, building commercial and resident structures around Powell. He also served as a city councilman for 12 years.

After retirement, Gordon occasionally substituted in the Powell school system, but mostly did the things he loved: camping, fishing, trailer life, and outdoor activities. He enjoyed traveling, and he and Donna toured most of the states and traveled extensively abroad. He loved his family and grandchildren, and working with children

He was a member of the Golden Eagle Masonic Lodge No. 66 in Bridger and maintained his membership throughout his life. He was also a member of the Scottish Rites and Al Bedoo Shrine in Billings, the Elks BPO Lodge, American Legion Post, Eagles Lodge, and was a member of the First United Methodist Church, all in Powell.

Gordon was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Mary and Helen, brothers Oscar, Marvin, Owen and Paul, his foster parents, and one grandson.

He is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Donna, his five children and their spouses, 11 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and his sister, Amy Kluksdahl.

Cremation has taken place, and donations may be made to the Al Bedoo Shrine,1125 Broadwater Ave., Billings, Mont., 59102, or a charity of choice in Gordon's memory.

Thompson Funeral Home assisted the family.