Pastor Gary L. Daines was called home to the Lord on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Pastor Gary was born on Aug. 19, 1944, to James and Evelyn (Solmonson) Daines. In 1965, he married Mary Lou Huston. They had two wonderful children, Greg and Brenda. His three granddaughters, Chelsea, Rachel and Rebecca, were his pride and joy. During the final months of his life, he was honored to officiate Chelsea’s wedding.
Pastor Gary graduated from LaFarge High School in 1962. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from Iowa State University. He was an active NROTC (Navy ROTC) member throughout his post-secondary education. In 1968, he was called to service as a lieutenant for the Navy and was assigned to the first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus. He worked as a supply officer, assistant engineer, and also wrote chemical manuals for the USS Nautilus.
Pastor Gary was called to serve the Lord in 1976 when he attended Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He graduated with a Master of Divinity and was ordained into the American Lutheran Church. His first call was at First Lutheran and Spring Creek Church in Watford City, N.D., where he served until July of 1981. After moving to Powers Lake, N.D., he served at Holy Cross Lutheran and Bethel Lutheran Church, Battle View, through May 1988, before transferring to the La Crosse Area Synod. His final calling was at Our Saviors and Skogdalen Lutheran Parish in Westby, Wis. until his retirement on June 4, 2011.
Pastor Gary was known for his inspirational generosity and compassion by the people who loved him and his community. He transformed a church utility closet into Bethel Butikk, a food pantry that now feeds thousands of families every year and has since been expanded to its own building, one of his greatest accomplishments. He was committed to making a difference and was honored by numerous organizations with volunteer of the year and community excellence awards. He served as a volunteer EMT on an ambulance service, past president and district governor of the Lions Club, Boy Scout Master for 27 years, two-term lieutenant for The Kiwanis Club, a member of the Salvation Army, Sons of Norway, Westby Chamber, FFA Alumni, and past Syttende Mai Board President. His legacy continues with the community Thanksgiving Dinner and Burgers in the Park, which are both still going strong today.
Pastor Gary Daines was preceded in death by his father, James E. Daines; his mother, Evelyn O. (Solmonson) Daines; and his brother, Jimmy Daines.
He is survived by his loving wife, Mary Lou (Huston) Daines of Westby; their two children, Greg (Jenny) Daines and Brenda (David) Maxwell, both of Westby; their three granddaughters, Chelsea (Bradley) Raasch of Westby, Rachel Maxwell of Minneapolis, and Rebecca Maxwell of Salt Lake City; his six siblings, Ruth (Teeny) Wild of Viola, Paul (Rhonda) Daines of LaFarge, Sharon (Richard) Corcoran of Black River Falls, Donna (Terry) Rigby of Westby, Myra Daines of LaFarge and John (Colleen) Daines of Ontario; and many nieces, nephews, friends, and loving church family.
A special thank you to the home hospice staff at Vernon Memorial Hospital for their wonderful care and support of our family during this time.
Pastor Gary was a friend and mentor to many and will be greatly missed.
A drive-by visitation was held on Sunday, Sept. 6, at Vosseteig Funeral Home in Westby, Wis., An outdoor celebration of life was held on Monday, Sept. 7, at Sugar Creek Bible Camp at 1 p.m. A private family burial with military honors was held immediately following at Bethany Sand Hill Church in LaFarge, Wis.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Bethel Butikk and Sugar Creek Bible Camp.