Fernon M. Gustafson, "Gus", beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away suddenly, September 18, 2013 at home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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He was born to Gustaf Fredolf (Fred) Gustafson and Myrtle Christianson Gustafson in Govick, Minnesota. He graduated from Gonvick High School and was close to graduating from Hibbing Junior College when he enlisted in the Navy.
He served our country in active duty in the Pacific as a lieutenant, (jg), Hellcat pilot off the converted aircraft carrier USS COWPENS. He was a decorated war hero awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for a heroic patrol over a friendly submarine attempting to pick up a downed air crew when he spotted a hostile destroyer escort which threatened the rescue. He attacked the heavily armed warship under heavy anti-aircraft fire and adverse weather conditions with repeated low-level strafing runs and crippled the warship. When he was discharged from the Navy he worked as a flight instructor in Hibbing, Minnesota, and then an air traffic controller in Berea, Ohio.
He then went into partnership in aerial photography for a geological mapping company mapping all over the US and into South America. During this time he met and married Joyce Gualtiere in 1952. They had one stepson and two sons and a daughter. He worked for Civil Defense most of the rest of his working years in Montana, Virginia, Texas, Maryland ,Oklahoma and Colorado with a short period of years serving as an Air Safety Officer for the Army. He returned to Colorado Springs where he worked as the Chief Warning Officer at NORAD until his retirement.
He was an active Mason for most of his life and Past Master of Tejon Masonic Lodge 104 in Colorado Springs. He felt honored to be a member of the Quiet Birdmen and was also a member of the Sons of Norway and the Over the Hill Gang whom he skied with to the age of 80. For many years he was on a curling team and participated in the Men's National Curling Bonspiels several times. He was on a bowling league and enjoyed the challenge of doing genealogy.
Gus was preceded in death by his brothers, Hallace Gustafson of Phoenix, AZ and Ilef Gustafson of Bremerton, Washington.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joyce Gustafson of Colorado Springs, one stepson, Dr. Charles Slem and his wife Alexa of San Luis Obispo, CA, son Dr. Paul Gustafson and his wife Sharon of Williamsburg, VA, daughter Karen Rogers and her husband Benjamin Rogers of Holt, MO, son Neal Gustafson of Scottsdale, AZ. He had 7 grandchildren; Alex and Matthew Slem and Liesl (Slem ) Ray, David and Benjamin Blair, and Taylor and Cameron Gustafson, 3 step grandsons, Scott, Erik and Brent Rogers and 7 great grandchildren.
He wanted a party instead of a funeral so a celebration of his life will be held at 2:30 PM on Thursday, September 26th at the Tejon Masonic Lodge 104, 1150 Panorama Drive, Colorado Springs
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Hillsdale College, 33 E College Street, Hillsdale, MI 49242, The Shriner's Children's Hospital, or a
Published in The Gazette on Sept. 24, 2013