Joseph Gessell, 74 year old resident of Swanville, MN, passed away on Sunday, September 1, 2019 at Quiet Oaks Hospice in St. Augusta, MN. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Swanville, with Fr. Ron Dockendorf officiating. Burial will be in St. John’s parish cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 PM on Friday and 10 to 11 AM Saturday at the church. Christian Mothers will pray the Rosary at 4:30 PM Friday. Military Rites will be provided by the Swanville American Legion Post #313 and V.F.W. Post #6037.
Joseph Patrick Gessell was born October 17th, 1944 to Joseph Patrick, Sr. and Elizabeth Josephine (Birchem) Gessell in Little Falls, MN. He was a lifelong resident of Swanville. Joe entered the US Army when he was 17 years old and did his training at Fort Riley in Kansas. He drove school bus for local schools in Manhattan, KS. On January 9th, 1965 he married Shirley Heroux at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Little Falls, MN. Joe and Shirley made their home in Swanville and were blessed with two children, Chad and Jessica as well as four granddaughters (Elizabeth, Abigail, Lillian and Anastasia). Joe worked with his brothers in the family milling business, Gessell Feed Mill, Inc. Joe and Shirley built their first turkey barns in 1968, while Joe worked at Gessell Feed Mill, Inc until the early 70’s. He then was involved in many businesses including Commodity trading, building modular homes and Tombstone Pizza. In 1987, Joe came back into Gessell Feed Mill after his brother Donald’s death. During this time, he oversaw Gessell Feed Mill, Viking Feeds, Homeland Feeds, Valley Egg, Viking Express Freight as well as being involved with many other family businesses. Joe enjoyed many different activities, especially those that were high adrenalin (going fast and high). Joe really enjoyed moose, deer and duck hunting. He bagged some really big bucks in the Swanville area over the years. He also enjoyed hunting with his father and brothers in Canada. He raced cars on the dirt track as well as racing snowmobiles over the years. Joe also got his pilot license in his younger years, and he enjoyed flying his Cessna around the state. He often provided memorable rides for his lucky passengers. After his heart attack, Joe started flying his power parachute. He was often seen flying overhead in Swanville. In the end, his love of riding motorcycle trumped all his other hobbies. He loved riding his Harley down the highway, traveling all over the country. However, his favorite pass time was being “Papa”. He loved being with his granddaughters, playing with them, and would treat them to his made-up games (sound effects included) such as “stretch arm” through the railings, and the “butt biter”. He would give four-wheeler rides through the whispering pines! He always had a story to share with family and friends. Joe often talked about being able to go back in time; he just wanted to sit on one of the corners in Swanville on the 4th of July in the early 1900’s, and thought it would be great to see just how cool the town had been. He made a once in a lifetime trip to Russia, often boasting of laying in Stalin’s jail cell bed. Joe was a lifelong member of St. John the Baptist Church. His faith grew deep as a member of the church, with him having a great devotion to Mary and the Devine Mercy.
Joe is survived by his wife, Shirley; children, Chad (Annie Kothe) and Jessica (Chad Hofmann); grandchildren, Elizabeth Gessell, Abigail Gessell (Kevin Joswiak), Lillian Jokinen and Anastasia Hofmann; brothers, John (Marge) and Frank (Helen); in-laws, Noreen Gessell, Lucy Gessell, George Heroux, Joyce Olson and Mary Lentz; many beloved nieces and nephews.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Elizabeth Gessell Sr.; brothers, Donald and Richard; in-laws, Louis and Gladys Heroux, Robert Heroux, Cordy Heroux and Richard Lentz and his niece Collette (Gessell) Wilkens.
Memorials are preferred in Joe’s memory to St. Jude’s Hospital, Love a Child, Inc. or Quiet Oaks Hospice House-St Augusta.