Joseph Louis “Joe” Gagnon, 85, died Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007, at the Liberty County Nursing Home, Rosary prayers will be at 7 p. m. Friday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chester.
Funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the church. Burial with military rites will follow at the Chester Cemetery. Joe was born March 19, 1922, in Chester. He was one of nine children born to Louis and Elise (Hamel) Gagnon. Joe was raised on the family homestead nine miles south of town and received his education in Chester, where he graduated from Chester High School in 1941. During the outbreak of World War II, Joe went to Los Angeles, Calif., to work in an aircraft factory. While there he was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. Where he worked in the Provost Marshall’s office. Joe attained the rank of corporal during his four-year military stint and earned his honorable discharge in 1946. He returned to the family farm in Montana. Initially, the four Gagnon brothers farmed together and acquired additional farmland in the years that followed. Eventually they divided their interests and began farming on their own. However, Joe and brother Narciss continued their partnership throughout the years. In addition to their Chester farm, they ran a farming operation at Counsel, Sask., Canada for many years. While visiting relatives in Minnesota in 1947, Joe met his wife-to-be, Rose Brule. They were married on Nov. 3, 1948. They made their home on the Gagnon farm south of Chester where they raised their two sons. They had been married 25 years when Rose was killed in a car accident on May 28, 1973. Joe remained busy in the community. He had good carpentry skills, so he would buy old homes in need of repair. After the remodeling was complete, he would offer the home for sale or rent, then start a new project. He enjoyed buying and selling real estate and eventually earned his broker’s license and worked as a parttime real estate agent in Chester and Canada for many years. Joe’s second wife was a neighbor friend and widow, Phyllis Good. They were married on June 9, 1976. Joe enjoyed his new extended family, Phyllis’ children and grandchildren. Joe and Phyllis continued to live and work in the Chester community, but also enjoyed many winters as “snowbirds” in southern California. When Joe’s health began to fail in 2005, he moved to the Wheat Country Estates assisted- living facility. In the spring of 2006 he transferred to the Liberty County Nursing Home. Joe was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith and was a lifelong member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chester. He was active in the Knights of Columbus and had attained the status as a fourthdegree knight. He also enjoyed attending church cursillos. Joe’s other memberships included the V.F.W. Post in Chester and the Eagles Lodge. Of interest was the fact that Joe earned his private pilot’s license at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Oklahoma in 1947 and did some casual flying in Montana in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Joe loved to go fishing, especially with the grandchildren. He enjoyed the music of Lawrence Welk and he loved to dance. To pass the time, Joe attended many garage sales during their winter stays in California. He enjoyed his collection of antiques and old coins. He also liked to play cards, but wasn’t much of a gambler (in fact, he comically referred to Las Vegas as “Lost Wages!”). Probably Joe’s greatest enjoyment was simply visiting with family and friends; he never tired of it. He loved people and was a very caring and giving friend. Joe was preceded in death by his first wife; his parents; his oldest son, Tony in 1992; brothers, Francis, Narciss and infants Leon and George; and sisters, Jeanne Hull, Rose Boucher and Erma Riecke. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Phyllis Gagnon of Chester; his son, Lyle (Rosalie) Gagnon of Seattle, Wash.; four stepchildren, Janet Saxton of Chester, Garth Good of Chester, Gail Good of Kalispell and Corinne Hill of Great Falls; brother, Ernest Gagnon of Chester; one grandson; and 10 stepgrandchildren and numerous nephews and nieces. Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel of Chester.