Gary David Hambleton, 84, Malmo, died peacefully on the morning of March 2 with his daughter Kelly by his side in her Ironton, home.
Born in Braham, on Oct. 6, 1936, Gary grew up on the southeastern shore of Mille Lacs Lake. In school he excelled in athletics. Upon graduating from Isle High School in 1954, Gary then served in the United States Navy during the Korean conflict. In the fall of 1959, he married his high school sweetheart, Jacqueline Lee Hemerick. Together they raised five children while Gary put his military welding skills to good use.
From shop jobs to well drilling, skyscraper iron work in Minneapolis to electronic parts production management at National Connector in New Hope, welding instructor positions at Anoka-Hennepin, Willmar and St. Cloud Technical Colleges, to oil rig construction supervision in Saudi Arabia, AT&T communication tower construction in far-flung Antarctica to various local plumbing and heating gigs; Gary was always an enthusiastic, tireless, nomadic worker. This enabled the family to experience a diverse spectrum of life across several rural towns, suburbs and cities of Minnesota along with tales of his travels abroad. Along the way, he squeezed in some college credits at Moorehead State University, Dunwoody Institute and St. Cloud State University and “hobby farmed” between Buffalo and Waverly. In later years, he owned and operated Isle Plumbing and Heating Company and drove semis cross-country.
Throughout it all, his community-minded spirit and boundless energy kept him volunteering. He spent several years coaching youth and community softball leagues and volunteer firefighting. He also served stints as a scout leader, Sunday school teacher, church choir voice and Isle City Commissioner.
Gary (aka Hambone) was a true renaissance man, a jack-of-all-trades, master jerry rigger, creative craftsman, teacher, mentor, problem solver and life-of-the-party jokester. Since retirement in the mid 2000’s, he partnered in a wild rice operation near Malmo, and worked as a machine shop manager, board member and trail volunteer for the Mille Lacs Trails Snowmobile Club. Generous with his time and talents, he loved helping family with home improvement projects, sharing produce from his garden, cooking and baking using his blossoming chef skills and tinkering with wood crafts. He lovingly fashioned frames and mats for his artist wife, Jackie’s, paintings. Autumns and springs were spent in Carlton, Oregon, working as harvest mechanical engineer/handyman at his daughter, Jill, and son-in-law Brian’s, Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery. He delighted in teaching his grand and great-grandchildren how to enjoy the outdoors, play cribbage and become strategic dice whisperers while playing the board game, Aggravation.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, William and Hannah Hambleton, Isle; older sister, Verle Waters-Clark, Los Gatos, California; younger brother, Duane Hambleton and wife Phyllis, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Gary is survived by older brother, Glen Hambleton, and wife Donna, New Brighton; older sister, Ellen Marpe, and husband Don, Duluth; older brother, Dean Hambleton, and wife Jean, Isle; younger sister, Gloria Pothast, and husband Gary, Duluth; wife, Jackie Hambleton, Malmo; their children: Nancy Jo Hambleton, Worthington; Pamela Renee Hambleton, Glen; Jill Jacqueline Hambleton and husband Brian, Carlton, Oregon; David Dean Hambleton and wife Cassie, Hillsdale, Michigan; Kelly Yvette Hambleton, Ironton; 13 grandchildren; one great-grandchild, many nieces, nephews and extended family members.
Military honors will be performed during his interment of ashes ceremony at the Minnesota Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls. Gary’s life will be celebrated with family and friends in Malmo, both to be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Ironton American Legion, Post 443, Ironton, MN, 56455, where a Gary D. Hambleton Memorial Fund has been established in his honor. Arrangements are with the Koop Funeral Home in Crosby.