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Obituary for Gary Riffe

Gary Riffe, 73, of Savage, MN, (formerly Jamestown, ND) died Sunday, November 17, 2019, at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN after suffering from an amyloid stroke. Gary Michael Riffe was born on September 18, 1946 in Spearfish, SD, to George and Dorothy (McKnight) Riffe.  When Gary was five years old, his family moved to Roseburg, OR, where Gary graduated from Roseburg high school.  After graduating, he moved to Alcester, SD and attended Nettleton Business College in Sioux Falls, SD. While attending college, Gary enlisted in the National Guard and soon after, he met the love of his life, Jill […]

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Gary Riffe, 73, of Savage, MN, (formerly Jamestown, ND) died Sunday, November 17, 2019, at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN after suffering from an amyloid stroke.

Gary Michael Riffe was born on September 18, 1946 in Spearfish, SD, to George and Dorothy (McKnight) Riffe.  When Gary was five years old, his family moved to Roseburg, OR, where Gary graduated from Roseburg high school.  After graduating, he moved to Alcester, SD and attended Nettleton Business College in Sioux Falls, SD. While attending college, Gary enlisted in the National Guard and soon after, he met the love of his life, Jill Carlson.  They were married on July 20, 1968 in Hamill, SD. After marrying, they moved to Jamestown, ND.

Due to job positions, Gary and Jill did not stay in one location for too long.  They found themselves in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and then finally settled in Jamestown, North Dakota in 1977, when Gary began his final career at Hi-Acres Manor Nursing Center (now Eventide).  He owned and operated Hi-Acres Manor until his retirement in 2009. Somewhere in there they managed to raise four children.

Gary was a servant. To take on so many roles, made one wonder if he had superhuman powers.  He was a husband, dad, grandfather, friend. He took on the roles of salesman, Nursing Home Administrator, past president of the local Rotary Club International (Paul Harris Fellow), Chamber of Commerce, and National Board of Nursing Home Directors. He was actively involved in state and national long term care education as a Certified Fellow and past president of the ACHCA. He served on the Unison Bank board, a Jimmie Booster club member, and a current member of the Board of Regents at Trinity Bible College and grad school, Ellendale, ND. He also sang with the Jamestown Choralaires. He served his country for 31 years in the Army National Guard, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Gary served in each of these capacities, because it meant building relationships. It has been said again and again, “Gary never knew a stranger,” because what was important to him was people. From the 42 years he served as an administrator at Hi-Acres Manor to the various roles he took on in the community and as an active member of First Assembly of God church where he served as a deacon, treasurer, leader in children’s ministries, Sunday School teacher, and a small group ministries leader, Gary focused on building relationships through each and every interaction he made.

Gary did not have a temper and was incredibly patient. This was evident in the many times he learned of one of his children denting a vehicle (more times than he would like to count) or learning of their making poor choices along the way, he always embraced each child or family member tightly and loved each through the incident. His heavenly Father lived through Gary in each reaction/interaction he had, and because of his devotion to our Maker, we see a glimpse of the unconditional love God has for each of us. He rose early each morning and faithfully spent time in prayer for his children and extended family and friends.

Gary loved sports at all levels, professional, college, high school and whatever level his grandchildren were playing. He ran, biked, played golf and loved playing pickleball. He also loved classic cars, especially his ‘54 Chevy. He and Jill traveled often and had only two of the fifty states left to visit.

Gary wasn’t perfect, but he was obedient to our loving Savior.  He was a warm, gentle spirit, servant-leader to many, a man of integrity, honesty, compassion and a fervent prayer warrior.  He leaves behind a legacy of what it means to love people. He did this by following his life verse, Proverbs 3:5,6, daily, “Trusting in the Lord with ALL his heart, leaning not on his own understanding, but in ALL his ways acknowledging Christ, who straightened each path.“  Gary lives on in each of us, because of who he chose to model here on earth. As God loves each and every one of us, Gary took it upon himself to reflect that love which comes from John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Gary chose to do this each and every day.

Gary is survived by his wife of 51 years, Jill Riffe; children, Shaun (Andrea) Riffe, St. Paul, MN, Heidi (Kent) Gustafson, Sauk Centre, MN, Allison (Chuck) Eicher, Savage, MN, and Brandon (RaNay) Riffe, Republic, MO; grandchildren, Christian and Kennedy Riffe, Finley and Karli Gustafson, Natalie, William, and Matthew Eicher, and Lucas and Leighton Riffe; sisters, Lynette (David) Larson, Kirkland, WA, Milicent (Dan) Nelson, Kirkland, WA, and Yvonne (Chris) Riffe-Ebertz, Bismarck, ND; sisters-in-law, Brenda VanGaalen, Lethbridge, AB; Eileen (Ron) Swank, Crystal Lake, IL; and Yvonne McCann, Rapid City, SD; his mother-in-law, Joyce Carlson, Batavia, IL; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents, George and Dorothy Riffe; step-mother, Phyllis Riffe; grandparents; brothers-in-law, Bennett Carlson and Kenneth VanGaalen; and father-in-law, Lynus Carlson.

Memorials preferred to Convoy of Hope, P.O. Box 1125, Springfield, MO 65801 or Trinity Bible College & Graduate School, Attn: Business Office, 50 Sixth Avenue South, Ellendale, ND 58436.

Visitation will be from 9-11 AM, followed by a funeral at 11 AM, Monday, November 25, 2019, at Eden Prairie Assembly of God, 16591 Duck Lake Trail, Eden Prairie, MN. There will be a live simulcast of the funeral at 11 AM, Monday, November 25, 2019, at Jamestown First Assembly, 1720 Eighth Avenue SW, Jamestown, ND. Interment will be at 10:45 AM, Tuesday, November 26, 2019, Assembly Area 3, in Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.

Arrangements are with Bierman Funeral Home, Northfield, MN.

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Funeral

11:00 AM - November 25, 2019

Eden Prairie Assembly of God
16591 Duck Lake Trail Eden Prairie, 55346 Get Directions

Visitation

9:00 AM - November 25, 2019 - 11:00 AM

Eden Prairie Assembly of God Church
16591 Duck Lake Trail Eden Prairie, 55346 Get Directions

Burial

Burial: 10:45 AM - November 26, 2019

Fort Snelling National Cemetery
7601 34th Ave S Minneapolis, 55450 Get Directions

13 Comments

  1. Ron & Genell Carlson

    Gary, Will always be remembered as a very kind man with a very strong love of God in his heart, and his cheerful gleaming smile. May Gary rest peacefully in the hands of his creator. To Jill and the family he left behind, may your sorrow be enlightened by your strong faith in God.

    Reply
  2. Jewel Lundgren

    Prayers of comfort being sent to Your Lord and Savior for you and the family. So sorry for your loss.. The Lord will supply you with strength and comfort and courage through out your new journey on earth without Gary,till you reunite with him again.

    Reply
  3. Julie Rokke

    Oh my. So very sorry. Gary was a wonderful person and I enjoyed working with him
    at Hi Acres. My deepest sympathies to all of his family. Julie Rokke

    Reply
  4. Charlotte Grohnke

    Dear Jill and family,I’m so very sorry to read about Gary’s death.He was a wonderful man, full of Gods love for his fellow man and true to his word.I know you will miss him terribly.But when the predestined time comes you will be reunited in heaven.Keeping you and yours in my prayers.Char.

    Reply
  5. Ann Tighe

    Heidi and family-
    My deepest sympathy. I didn’t know your dad but have heard wonderful things from Kent. I pray that God’s peace will carry you through this difficult time.

    Reply
  6. LeRoy & Leanne Wegenast

    Truly an “officer and gentleman”. Prayers for your family.

    Reply
  7. Tom Widney

    Gary will be greatly missed! He was a loyal, involved leader in the American College of Health Care Administrators. His family is in our prayers.

    Reply
  8. Gordy Entzminger

    Gary was a great friend. I always enjoyed his friendship and encouragement.

    Reply
  9. Susan Hoffman

    Rest in peace Gary. Thank you for your years of service to the care of our seniors.

    Reply
  10. Harold and Marie Bensch

    Gary was a dear friend, fellow Veteran and Rotarian. Our sympathy to you Jill and the family. You cared for our mothers and we appreciated this. Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.

    Reply
  11. James and Cheryl Iverson

    My sympathies to Jill and the family. I knew Gary from his involvement in the American College of Health Care Administrators. I served on the regional level of the College and worked with Gary for many years. He was such a gentleman, dedicated colleague, and the best friend one could have.
    Well done, good and faithful servant! I look forward to our reunion one day!

    Reply
  12. Gary Anderson

    I always enjoyed visiting with Gary. He was kind yet mischievous, loved to laugh, visit about old cars, just fun.
    He was always concerned about everybody else. I appreciated his love for God

    Reply
  13. Sheila Doll

    I was lucky enough to have Major Riffe, as I knew him, as one of my first commanders in the North Dakota National Guard. He always took care of the troops. He will be missed. My sympathies to the entire Riffe family.

    Reply

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