Harland Fredrick Gilbertson, age 92 of River Falls, died peacefully January 5, 2021 at his home with his wife and family biding him farewell. Harland was born on May 15, 1928 in Martell Township, the son of Frederick and Clara (Haberstitch) Gilbertson. He was raised in Beldenville, attending Morton Corner Grade School, before graduating from Ellsworth High School. He furthered his schooling at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. He would become enchanted by a young woman from River Falls, Donna Mae Robey. The couple quickly became soul mates. During this time, he enlisted in the armed forces and served during the Korean War in the Army. With the uncertainly of the war, he knew he couldn’t wait to take Donna’s hand in marriage. So Harland mailed the engagement ring off to Donna and the seventy years of marriage were about to unfold. They were united in marriage on May 19, 1951 at the First Presbyterian Church in Ellsworth, and were devoted lifetime members of the church.
Many will remember his many years as owner and operator of General Repair Garage in Beldenville. If it had a motor, chances are Harland fixed it at one point. He was a welcomed sight when the car wouldn’t run, the snow blower wouldn’t start, or the tractor needed an overhaul. In fact, springtime usually meant blocks long lines of tractors to get their once-over for the upcoming crop season.
Being a repair wonder, there wasn’t much Harland couldn’t figure out. Towards the end of his career, he started collecting and refurbishing old gas pumps. He would take the discarded pumps left in fields or lots, and turn them into historical art. He also enjoyed biking while enjoying the country scenery, or the simplicity of cutting wood. But by far, his favorite pastime was traveling. He quit counting the countries that he has visited as they became too numerous. He loved going to countries, learning about their culture, and experiencing it firsthand. Some of his lodging and dining experiences they shared were stories within themselves.
Harland will be forever remembered by his wife and best friend, Donna; sons, Barry (Angela) Gilbertson of Beldenville and Brian (Sandra) Gilbertson of Beldenville; six grandchildren: Michelle (Joseph) Engel, Patrick (fiancée Elizabeth) Gilbertson, Cassandra (William) McRoberts, James Gilbertson, Josephine Gilbertson and Kyle Gilbertson; four great grandchildren: John, Lincoln, Autumn and Aubrey; siblings, Marlys Kroeze of Jefferson, WI and Marge Johnson of Pine City; and sister-in-law, Audrey Gilbertson of Ellsworth. He was preceded in death by his siblings, Roger (Donna) Gilbertson and Donald Gilbertson; and brother-in-law, Curt Kroeze.
Private family services will be held 2:00 pm Saturday, January 16, 2021 at Bethel Covenant Church in Ellsworth. The service will be livestreamed at Facebook.com/BethelCovenantChurch. Military honors paying respect to Harland’s service in the US Army will be provided by the Ellsworth American Legion Post 204. Burial will be at a later date in the Beldenville Cemetery. Memorials are preferred to the discretion of the family. Funeral services have been entrusted to the O’Connell-Benedict Family Funeral Home of River Falls (715) 425-5644. www.oconnellbenedict.com