Willard Linnevold

Monday, March 9, 2015 4:40 pm

Willard Linnevold, 99, of Decorah, died Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Jupiter, Fla. Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Monday, May 11, at First Lutheran Church in Decorah, with Rev. Chad Huebner officiating. Burial is in Washington Prairie Lutheran Cemetery in rural Decorah, with full military honors. Visitation is from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, May 10, at Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah, and Monday beginning at 10 a.m., one hour before the service, at First Lutheran Church. Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah is serving the family.  Online condolences may be made at fjelstul.com.

Willard Gordon Sivesind Linnevold was born in Frankville Township near Decorah Aug. 24, 1915, to William and Edith (Hamre) Linnevold. Willard spent his early years on the family farm, moved with his family to Decorah at the age of eight, and graduated from Decorah High School in 1933. Willard continued his education at Luther College, where he majored in mathematics and music, graduating in 1937. Following college graduation Willard began his career in public school education, teaching mathematics, choir and band at Hayes Consolidated Schools near Storm Lake. He also taught in Laurens, where he formed a band and choir. In 1943, Willard enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, receiving specialized training in radar technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his tour of duty as a Marine he met his future bride, Yvonne Maloy, whom he married Sept. 23, 1944, at the First Baptist Church in New Bern, N.C. They were blessed with three children: Gordon, Rebecca and Gary. He returned to Decorah in 1946, and began his career in insurance and real estate with the A & J Agency where he enjoyed 43 productive years. He acquired special expertise in replacement cost insurance for institutions, which was not common at that time. After his retirement in 1989, he continued to be interested in the welfare of the staff, the agency and its clients. Willard was a member of First Lutheran Church for over 90 years. He was active in the music programs of the church, including direction of the youth and senior choirs, and regular participation in the senior choir. He chaired the organ committee that selected the current instrument for the First Lutheran sanctuary. He also taught the Bethel series bible study. He served his community through the Lions Club, Luren Singers, the Symra Society, and as president of the Decorah Chamber of Commerce in 1964. He was president of the Decorah Community Concert Association for many years during which time numerous nationally renowned artists performed in Decorah. A member of the Oneota Golf and Country Club since 1948, Willard remained an active golfer until the summer of 2014. He developed a generation-spanning golf partnership with Maynard Newhouse, a member of the Decorah High School golf team. In 2011, he and Maynard were inducted into the Iowa Hall of Pride in recognition of their unique partnership. Following Newhouse’s graduation, the partnership continued with Peter Kephart. One of the true highlights of his life was his membership in the Luther College Concert Band and its 1936 Diamond Jubilee Tour to Europe, which was featured in the 2013 documentary “The Trip of a Lifetime.” This documentary was selected for presentation at the 2014 Iowa Independent Film Festival.  Willard was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from Luther College in 1972. He was thrilled to receive the Carlo A. Sperati Award in 2014 from Luther College in recognition of his distinguished career as a music educator. A scholarship in music was established in Willard and Yvonne Linnevold’s name, and has been awarded to over 300 Luther students. 

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Yvonne; children: Gordon (Paula) Linnevold of Mason City, Rebecca (Robert) Shaw of Clive; Gary (Patsy) Linnevold of Des Moines; grandchildren: Wendy Linnevold, Murray (Khrista) Linnevold, Robin (Ryan) Frost, and Nichole (Kevin) Borchardt; nieces: Alice Swensen, Mary Stroll, Ruth Dignan,Susan (Duke) Callahan, Linda Taraldson, Alexia (Gary) Hadley, Linda (Gary) Finck; and nephew William Swensen.

Willard was preceded in death by his father and mother, William and Edith (Hamre) Linnevold; his brother, Paul; and sisters, Ruth (Theodore) Swensen; and Elizabeth (Charles) Taraldson. 

Memorials may be made to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, P.O. Box 379, 502 W. Water St., First Lutheran Church, 604 W. Broadway St., Decorah Public Library, 202 Winnebago St., Luther College, 700 College Dr., all of Decorah, IA 52101or the charity of donor’s choice.

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