Obit: Van Gorden, Heron “Pink” Ardell (1926 - 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Van Gorden, Fremstad, Dierauer, Heagle, Kelley, Anderson, Hauge, Swenson, Peterson, Rosekrans, Zank, Spangler, Mohr, Koppert

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 5/25/2016

Van Gorden, Heron “Pink” Ardell (9 October 1926 - 19 May 2016) With Flag

Heron “Pink” Ardell Van Gorden, 89, of Neillsville passed away peacefully Wednesday, May 19, 2016, at the Clark County Health Care Center in Owen.

He was born Oct. 9, 1926, in Alma Center to Archie H. “Red” and Hazel Madeline (Fremstad). He had an older brother, Richard “Dick” Humphrey and later a younger sister, Cyrena Mae (Dierauer). He graduated from Neillsville High School in 1944 without having attended an entire day of class due to his employment at his father’s mill.

After graduation, Pink enlisted and entered Army Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, GA. He went on to graduate and be commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant four days after his 17th birthday. He was the youngest ever to have achieved that rank. He was stationed in Germany and France where he served as the Commander of the 15th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron. He received orders to return home when he was 19 due to his father’s illness and to take over the family feed business. In December 1947 he joined the National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant where he served and later became the company commander and rose to the rank of Major before retiring in 1965.

He was joined in marriage to Ruth Elisabeth (Heagle) August 9, 1947, in Stanley. Their daughter, Marcia Beth Van Gorden was born Feb. 12, 1951, and their son Scot Humphrey Van Gorden, was born Oct. 25, 1954, and passed away at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN Nov. 7, 1954.

The family resided in Neillsville, where Pink and his brother Richard Humphrey Van Gorden continued to run the feed mill and later fertilizer plant in downtown Neillsville.

In 1981 Pink decided to run for the 69th State Assembly District seat opening, which he won and served from 1981 to 1991. He served on various committees such as highways, transportation projects, small business, education or training for employment, agriculture, health, and veterans and military affairs committees. Pink also served on the Department of Natural Resources Disable Advisory Council, the Legislative Council on Nursing Home Reimbursement, the Legislative Council Commission on Surface Water Resources, the Select Commission on Work incentive and the Governor’s Special Task Force on Ft. McCoy. In1992, he chose not to seek re-election because he believed that politics should not be a profession but rather a chance to do something useful for one’s constituents and community.

One of his most joyous accomplishments was the founding of the Half Moon Ski Resort Club and the development of the Bruce Mound Ski Hill in the late 1940s with Jim Hauge, Cal Swenson, Attorney John Peterson, and Dr. M. C. Rosekrans and his brother Dick. He also started the Mt. Moldy ski hill in Neillsville.

He was a member of a number of organizations, including but not limited to the Masons Knights Templar, Chamber of Commerce, United Church of Christ, Winx Club, Ducks Unlimited, National Rifle Association and National Muzzle Loading Association. He was the secretary-treasurer, director and member of the Wisconsin Feed, Seed and Supply Association; director of an industrial development group; and also served as commander of the American Legion and Commander of the VFW. One of the projects closest to his heart was the purchase and development of The Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville.

He leaves his beloved wife, Ruth, daughter Marcia (Carroll Kelley) of Minneapolis. He also leaves his brother Richard and his wife Janet of Neillsville and grandchildren: Ian Kelley, Sean Kelley, Colin Kelley and his wife Sor and children: Cynthia, Cyrus and Ethan; and granddaughter, Meghan (Anderson) and husband Troy and children: Konrad and Adeline.

He is preceded in death by his sister, Cyrena (Dierauer), and her husband, Robert Dierauer and his parents, Archie and Hazel Van Gorden.

Funeral services for Pink will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 26, 2016, at the United Church of Christ in Neillsville. Pastor Jacoba Koppert will officiate. Music will be provided by Eileen Zank, Deon Spangler and Karen Mohr. Interment will be in the Neillsville City Cemetery at a later date. Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Gesche Funeral Home and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday at the Church. Honors will be performed by the Neillsville Veteran’s Council and the Wisconsin Military Honors Program.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the United Church of Christ, 515 W. 2nd St. Neillsville, Wisconsin 54456 or The Highground W7031 Ridge Rd, Neillsville, WI 54456 or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Online condolences may be made at  The Gesche Funeral Home is assisting Pink’s family with funeral Arrangements.



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