Gary Jerome Hoper (79) passed into the presence of the Lord on February 6, 2022, surrounded by his family. Gary was born on October 20, 1942 in Warren, MN to the late Henry and Ruth (Jackson) Hoper. He was raised on the family farm―the fourth generation to work that land. Living on “Happy Corner,” each day he walked the mile and one-half (one way) to the Happy Corner School. Gary began working on the farm at a young age, and never stopped. He attended the Northwest School of Agriculture (the “AC”) in Crookston, but came home weekends to work the farm. After a semester at NDSU, he joined the Army National Guard and returned to the farm he loved.
On March 12, 1966, on the heels of an historic blizzard, Gary married Bonita “Boni” Lauckner in her hometown of Nashua, MT. The two made their home in Stephen. Tragically, on May 1, 1977, his wife and two young sons, Chad and Jared, were killed in an automobile accident, which, his daughter, Marla, fortunately survived. Needing a companion whom he could love, Gary was blessed to marry Doris (Gehrls) Nelson on June 24, 1978 and gain a son, Mark, from her previous marriage. Gary and Doris were further blessed with the birth of their son, Jerome. Together, Gary and Doris raised their family and continued Gary’s life’s work on the farm.
Gary retired in 2009 when he and Doris moved to Stephen. Doris died in June of that year. Although “retired,” Gary continued to work on the farm, driving tractor until April 2016. Gary loved Augsburg Township and made sure its roads were top notch. He was Commander of the Stephen American Legion, a member of First Lutheran Church in Stephen, and a proud former student of the Happy Corner School. Even after his move to North Star Manor in Warren in 2019, he continued to check on the farm now run by Jerome (a fifth generation farmer) and Jerome’s son (Odin (3) – a sixth generation farmer-in-the-making).
Gary’s love for the farm was only surpassed by his love for his grandchildren. When possible, he traveled to Minneapolis, Dallas, and the farm in Stephen to spend time with them. He loved to do puzzles, play board games, and joke with them. He also took them for tractor rides, ice cream, and played “kitchen” and hide-and-seek.
His family would like to thank all the friends and neighbors who looked after him, both in Stephen and in Warren. Gary appreciated every visit, phone call, and report on the crops. His family is sincerely grateful for your kindness.
Gary lives through his children and their spouses: Marla (Phil) Nickson, Jerome (Megan) Hoper, and Mark (Stephanie) Nelson; and through his 7 grandchildren, Ben and Steve Nickson, Meika and Odin Hoper, and Alex, Beckett, and Blake Nelson. He is also survived by his siblings Mark (Lois Ann) Hoper, Saundra (Tom) Moe, and Clifford Hoper, and his nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; each of his wives, Boni and Doris; his young sons, Chad and Jared; and his sister-in-law, Ingrid Hoper.
FUNERAL SERVICE: Friday, February 11, 2022, at 4:30 PM, in First Lutheran Church, Stephen, MN.
VISITATION: Thursday evening, February 10, 2022, from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM, in First Lutheran Church, Stephen, MN, and one hour prior to the funeral service.
MILITARY HONORS: Minnesota Honor Guard and the Stephen American Legion Post 390.
INTERMENT: Spring 2022 in St. Petri Cemetery, Sinnott Township, Marshall County, MN.
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