Evelyn Joyce (Rasmussen) Gardner, age 97, of Rusk Township, Burnett County, Wisconsin, passed away on Saturday, May 9, 2020, after a long, well-lived life.
She was born on September 13, 1922, to Pete and Martha Rasmussen and later baptized in Ashland, Wisconsin. When she was seven, Evelyn moved with her parents and three sisters to Spooner where she was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in 1936 and graduated from Spooner High School on May 10, 1940. A year later she moved to Chicago to look for work, where she lived and worked for the next 43 years.
During her time in Chicago, she held seven jobs. One of the most rewarding jobs was as an electrical welder. She contributed to the war effort by welding the manifolds for the British Lancaster Bombers that extinguished the flames making night bombings possible during World War II. Her last place of employment was with Wolter Kluwer Publishing where she worked her way up to assistant manager, supervised 120 people, and published tax law. She worked there for 33 years, retiring in January of 1985, and then moved back to Spooner with her husband, DeWayne.
It was in Chicago that she met and married DeWayne B. Gardner on June 13, 1950. Evelyn and DeWayne happily spent the next 51 adventurous years enjoying many pastimes together. They traveled 35 of the 50 states, camping, fishing, bow hunting, and airboating in many of them. They were active, lifelong members of the Chicago Bow Hunters Club. Equipped with bows and an airboat, they bow hunted fish in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, and Florida. In 2008, when Evelyn was 80, an article was written in the Bow Fishing Magazine which featured her as the oldest woman still running an airboat.
After retiring and moving back to Spooner, Evie and DeWayne purchased a home in Florida where she wintered until her death. She was active in the group “C’s for Cancer.” This group worked on fundraising projects with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. For years Evie created and donated crafts and was part of the “Kitchen Band” entertainment. As a park member, she also enjoyed playing cards and bingo with many friends in the park.
At home in Spooner, she served her community by protecting Rusk Township as one of the original members of the Burnett County Citizen Patrol. She went door to door in Rusk Township for eight years to collect donations for the American Cancer Society. She also expressed her artistic talents by decorating goose eggs while DeWayne used his to carve many beautiful wood carvings. These handmade treasures will be enjoyed by her many surviving family and friends for years to come.
Evelyn was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 51 years, DeWayne B. Gardner; her parents, Pete and Martha Rasmussen; three sisters, Marcella Meister of Duluth, Francis Hanson of Spooner, and Geneva Nieman of Shell Lake; two infant brothers; a great-great niece, Stacy Birnbaum; two great-great nephews, Ross Ackerson and Christopher Zuech; and nephews, John Lawson Sr. and his wife, Marjorie, and Dewey Barnes. She is survived by ten Lawson godchildren, Linda, Marion, John Jr., Mike, Jimmy, Barbara, Brenda, DeLayne, Patricia, and Debra; by many nieces and nephews, and even more great and great-great nieces and nephews.
Due to the current restrictions, a celebration of Evelyn’s life will be held at a later date.
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