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In Memory of Donald Gilbertson


10:00-11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Bethel Lutheran Church - Highlands Campus, Hudson.

Funeral Services

11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Bethel Lutheran Church - Highlands Campus, Hudson.

Donald Irwin Gilbertson, age 89 of Hudson, WI, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on May 12, 2015 at the Christian Community Home in Hudson.

Don was born on September 6, 1925 in Hudson, WI; the first son of Genhard and Mayme (Simonson) Gilbertson. He attended Hudson High School, and was sworn into the U.S. Navy midway through his senior year on February 8, 1943. His father received his diploma for him. Don served as a Radioman stationed in Pearl Harbor. During World War II he was aboard nine different ships and participated in three island invasions; Guam, Philippines and Okinawa. Don also survived a kamikaze airplane attack that sunk his vessel and wiped out two-thirds of the ship’s crew. He was awarded a Purple Heart for the injuries he received during that attack.

Upon Don’s release from the Navy, he enrolled at River Falls State, during which he was united in marriage to Helen Larson on August 14, 1948 in Lake Brunson, MN. He played on the Hudson City baseball team and belonged to the Wisconsin National Guard. After the birth of two of his children, Lynn and Lee, his family moved to Seattle, WA to November of 1951, where his daughter, Lois was born. They returned to Hudson in October 1953, where Lori, Larry, Lon, and Les where born. Don worked for several years at the John Wood Company in St. Paul, MN and then took a job with the American Hoist & Dorrisk Company. After almost 30 years at AH & D, Don retired in January of 1988. Following the death of his wife, Helen, in 1974, Don remarried Katherine ”Katie”” Laatsch on January 8, 1977, adding two step-children, Michael and Laurie. 

Don was immensely proud of his time in the service, and served many years on the Hudson VFW Honor Guard, and held the Commander position for many years. He was an avid participant in the Fourth of July parades in Hudson as a gun carrier in the Honor Guard, he readily drove injured vets to the VA hospital, and most of all, loved telling stories of his time in boot training, Camp Peterson, and Pearl Harbor. He also loved all sports, both watching them and playing them, especially golf and bowling. He enjoyed writing poetry which he shared at many occasions, and taking long drives without ever stopping for directions. Above all, Don was known for his punctuality and a wonderful sense of humor that he shared with everyone he met.

Don will remain in the hearts of his children: Lee (Deb) Gilbertson of Solon Springs, WI, Lynn (Dave) Riemenschneider of River Falls, Lois (Bob) Carlson of Woodbury, MN, Lori (Al) Hubbard of Hudson, Larry (Laurie) Gilbertson of River Falls, Lon (Sharon) Gilbertson of Hudson, and Leslie (Barbara) Gilbertson of Woodbury, MN; step-son, Michael (Deb) Laatsch of Hudson; step-daughter, Laurie (Curt) O’Keefe of Apple Valley, MN; 24 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and sisters, Yvonne (Gene) Hill of Bayport, MN, and Jane (Tony) Zappa of North Hudson. He is preceded in death by his first wife, Helen (Larson) Gilbertson; second wife, Katie (Ohrt) Gilbertson; his parents; and brother Jack Gilbertson.

A Memorial Service for Don will take place at 11:00 AM on Saturday, May 16, at Bethel Lutheran Church – Highlands Campus, 504 Frontage Road, Hudson, with Pastor Bob Bipes officiating. A visitation will be held from 10:00-11:00 AM at the church prior to the service.  Interment with Military Honors will take place at Willow River Cemetery in Hudson. Memorials preferred to you local VFW.

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