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Obituary: Gordon Rolland Davis

Gordon Rolland “Gordy” Davis was born on July 24, 1928, to Rolland and Fern (Crowell) Davis in Duluth. He passed away on April 2, 2024, at his home in Carlton.

Gordy attended Crosby Ironton High School in Crosby. After high school, Gordy moved to Cloquet to work at Wood Conversion. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Jan. 25, 1951 and served his country during the Korean War in Germany with the Army Corp of Engineers. He was honorably discharged on Jan. 24, 1953. He was united in marriage to Lillian Fern Bayliss on Nov. 16, 1953, in Webster, South Dakota. Gordy and Lillian made their home in Carlton and were blessed with five children. He served the Carlton volunteer fire department for 21 years, taking on the roles of captain, assistant chief and fire chief; worked for the Carlton school district as a school bus driver for 24 years; and worked at Wood Conversion, then Conwed Corporation and USG Interiors for 43 years. He retired in 1994.

Gordy was a longtime active member of Bethesda Lutheran Church in Carlton, having joined in 1958 in Carlton. He and Lillian gave freely of their time to the Carlton community and were awarded numerous volunteer and community support awards. Gordy was chosen as the grand marshall of the Carlton Daze parade in 2023.

He loved his wife and family, and they created great memories through trips by car, bus, and camper. If you ever saw a camper in the 1970s or ’80s that had “The Rolling 7-Ds” across its back, Gordy was at the wheel. In their retirement years, Lillian and Gordy spent four summers volunteering at the Big Sandy Recreation and federal campground north of McGregor. Gordy also enjoyed weekly breakfasts with the guys at the Junction, Cozy and Brickyard, and men’s Bible study at church. He delivered Meals on Wheels into his 90s, and often Lillian joined him on the deliveries.

Gordy’s children and extended family will always remember him as the best man and human they ever knew. He was kind, humble, patient, always in good spirits, and welcomed both new and old friends. Gordy treasured his relationship with God and with his friends at Bethesda, and he prayed daily. He was often a quiet man, but that simply made his words more valuable. Gordy fondly told stories of the friendships and adventures of his younger years and with his friends through the Carlton firehall, Carlton schools bus garage, and Conwed/USG. As he and Lillian aged, he was grateful to those who delivered dinners and baked goods to them. Gordy couldn’t pass a Dairy Queen without a Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard — a stop at DQ was a requirement on family trips or if he was simply “going for a drive.”

We know Gordy sends tremendous thanks to the doctors, nurses and caregivers at Essentia Health, St. Luke’s, and especially Cloquet’s Community Memorial Hospital. You all allowed him a healthy, happy nearly 96 years on this earth and we are immensely grateful.

Gordy is survived by his children, Rod (Deb) Davis of Carlton, Cindy (Dave) Berthiaume of Sawyer, Garry (Julie) Davis of Wrenshall, Jeanine (Lance) Johnson of Pike Lake, and Kristi (Pat) O’Brien of Superior, Wisconsin; grandchildren Cassi (Leslie Peterson) Davis, Brandon Johnson, Broc Johnson, Bob Berthiaume, Rachael (Ryan) Olesiak, Mike Davis, Chad (Christina) Duncan, Ashley (Tony) Thiesen, Garrett (Emily) Davis, Trent (Sabrina) Johnson, Justine Johnson and Jordyn O’Brien; great-grandchildren, Pierce, Azealia and Sienna Peterson, Amelia McCarthy, Ethan, Madison, McKenzie and Kennedy Berthiaume, Ryden and Riley Olesiak, Maddex and Asher Duncan, Kenley, Jett and Ivy Thiesen, Brynna, Emmett, Gia and Molly Davis, and James Johnson, with the 21st great-grandchild arriving in July; sisters-in-law, Marilyn Bayliss, Audrey Wycoff, Lois Bayliss, Jeanine (Jerry Holmvig) Nephew, and Beverly (Jim) Hofmann; and many nieces and nephews.

Gordy was preceded in death by his wife, parents and grandparents; father- and mother-in-law, Melvin and Gladys Bayliss; brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Joanne Davis; brothers- and sisters-in-law, Marlene Bayliss, Roger and Lois Bayliss, Ken Bayliss, Shirley and Duane Mead, Jerome Bayliss, Les Wycoff and Tom Nephew; grandson Austin Davis; nieces Nancy Davis, Nadine Bayliss Kittelso and Sherry Hofmann; nephews Joey, Mike and Mark Bayliss; and great-niece, Nicole Davis.

Visitation: 1 p.m. until the 3 p.m. memorial service Sunday, April 14 at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Carlton. Military Honors will be presented by Nicholson-Sellgren VFW Post 2962 of Carlton. A meal will follow the service at church. Inurnment will be at Hillside Cemetery in Carlton at a later date. Arrangements are entrusted to Nelson Funeral Care of Cloquet.

 
 
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