Elwin J. Gunnink (UPDATED)

Born: Sun., Nov. 22, 1931
Died: Thu., Dec. 17, 2020


11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Sun., Aug. 01, 2021
Location: Woodland Hills Funeral Chapel

Memorial Service

1:00 PM Sun., Aug. 01, 2021
Location: Woodland Hills Funeral Chapel

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Woodland Hills Funeral Home

Elwin “Ace” “Gunner” “El” John Gunnink, age 89 passed away on December 17, 2020 at New Perspective in Mankato.
Memorial services will be Sunday, August 1, 2021 at 1 P.M. at Woodland Hills Chapel in Mankato. Immediately following services military honors will be provided by the Mankato Area Veterans Memorial Squad. Interment will be in Woodland Hills Memorial Park in Mankato.
The Gunnink Family will greet friends on Sunday morning from 11 A.M. until the time of services at Woodland Hills Chapel. Woodland Hills Funeral Home of Mankato is handling arrangements.
El was born on November 22, 1931 in Hull, Iowa to William and Winnie (Rikkers) Gunnink.  He was the 5th in a family of seven children.  He attended Hull Public Schools and graduated from High School in 1949. Elwin was always interested in sports and started playing basketball around 4th grade.  In High School, he played basketball (1350 career points) and also was a baseball pitcher in the fall and the spring. He also played baseball two summers on the Am. Legion team.  Besides his love of sports, El enjoyed singing in choir and also in quartets with his brothers and later he joined the Mankato Riverblenders. Elwin received a scholarship and attended Westmar College in LeMars, IA, played basketball all four years and made All-Conference. He also played baseball and ran track there. Summer of his sophomore year, he pitched for Sibley, a semi-pro team until the sponsors ran out of money. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Natural Science and Physical Education with a minor in Education. He enrolled in Officer Candidate School for the Navy and was assigned to the USS Epperson, DDE 719 and traveled the Pacific Rim.  After the Navy, he attended colleges in South Dakota, Missouri and North Carolina. In 1960, he graduated from Colorado State College with a Masters in Physical Education. While taking graduate classes there, he met Mildred Musolf. He soon proposed and they got married on August 5th, 1962.  El taught Science and Algebra in Rockwell City, Iowa and then took a job in Mankato, MN teaching Algebra and Geometry at Franklin Junior High School and then later at Mankato East High School. From Mankato State College, he worked on his specialist degree in Secondary Administration. He coached basketball, cross country and track receiving his 25 year MN coaching award.  After retiring, he worked as a volunteer for Hilltop Neighbors, drove the van to the VA clinic in the cities and worked as a treasurer for the American Legion. He was Commander 1996-97 and was active on the firing squad, usually as flag bearer.  El also was very active with the Blue Earth County Republicans.  El loved to fish and had a cabin on Lake Spitzer. He loved to read and would do the crossword in the newspaper every day.  
Elwin is survived by his wife, Millie, two daughters, Heidi (Joel) Wyn and Holly (Brent) Erdman, grandchildren, Kent (Alaina) Harris, Alex (Rita) Harris, Christian (Ashley) Harris, Bethany (Alex) Reuter, Tresa Reuter, Kyra (Ben) Beske and Shawn Reuter, step-granddaughter, Emery Erdman, great-grandchildren, Landon, Spencer, Trenton, and Hannah, brother Norman Gunnink, and many nieces and nephews.  
He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Richard, Harry and Frank and sisters, Esther Ten Braak and Ruby Huffman, and grandson, David Reuter.
Please make memorials to Alzheimer’s Foundation of America or the American Legion Lorentz Post 11, Mankato, MN.

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   Posted Fri December 18, 2020
We are saddened to learn of El's passing. He was a wonderful, intelligent, compassionate and fun man. I'm very sorry for your heartache. May cherished memories sustain you and may the loving arm's of Jesus comfort you.

Bob and Vickie Finnegan
   Posted Fri December 18, 2020
I worked with El on many occasions at the Legion. A gentleman,friend,comrade. Many talks about service and his duty in the Navy. Our sincere condolences to you.

Dan Nelson
   Posted Mon December 21, 2020
Al and I taught together for many years. The years teaching together at Franklin school were special. Al was a very loyal man, to his family, to his students and to fellow teachers. His conservative political views were something to be admired. Al would always have a special story or word quiz that made a person think. May the many memories we have of Al sustain the family during this time of loss.

Gary Evenson
   Posted Mon December 28, 2020
Saddened to learn of Elwins passing. Elwin worked for me for many years as a driver transporting veterans to the VA hospital in Minneapolis. He was a very dedicated and conscientious person who treated our veterans with the courtesy and respect they deserved. I will miss his smile, his laugh and his sense of humor. Grateful to have known him as a friend and colleague.

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