Earl Alexander of Backus, Minn., passed away from bone cancer at his home, surrounded by his children, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, —two days after his 90th birthday and on the eve of his 70th wedding anniversary with his recently departed bride, Connie Alexander.
A celebration of life is to occur in the spring of 2020.
Earl was born, the fifth of six boys, Oct. 22, 1929, in Fifty Lakes to Virgil Joe Alexander Sr., and Gertrude “Gertie” Hoffman of the Netherlands and later Minnesota. Earl was beloved by everyone from the start.
The winter Earl started school, the snow was so deep that the children rode to and from school in a horse-drawn sleigh that had a wood-burning stove in it to keep them warm. Earl was so young that he would fall asleep on the ride home and some of the older girls would carry him into the house when the sleigh arrived at the Alexanders’ stop. This loving act must’ve made an impression because Earl became a man known for his kindness and willingness to lend a hand.
Earl’s father was a former Marine so he ran a tight ship when it came to the household of boys. Earl and his brothers liked to sneak onto the neighbor’s property to snitch watermelons from his garden, although it turns out that the neighbor planted extra watermelons with the boys in mind. At the young age of 14 after his mother passed away, Earl struck out on his own. He traveled west as far as the orchards in Washington State and spent a few years exploring and learning different trades. Perhaps this is when he picked up one of his favorite expressions: “I’d stretch for a mile if I didn’t have to walk back.”
Eventually, he returned to Minnesota with his hotrod, and at age 20, he met and married the love of his life, Connie Bundy, age 16. He often liked to talk of the “Hotrod” he owned when he met Connie. Everyone knew about the “Rod.”
Connie’s parents took in the wayfaring Earl and loved him as their own. Earl always credited Connie’s father, Clyde, with setting him on the right path. Earl and Connie would have three sons together, Marcus, Robin and Brian, and Earl passed on his love of cars, heavy machinery, and “mechanicking” to them. When the boys were teenagers, there was quite a collection of old cars around Earl’s property.
Earl and Connie also had two daughters, Merry and Kathy, who adored their daddy and grew up with the knowledge that their dad was a hero. Earl was very proud of his children, and especially his grandchildren, and they always loved to make Earl proud.
Earl was known far and wide for his work ethic, integrity, compassion, humor and his friendliness. He never met a stranger. Earl could not walk into a restaurant, post office or any other public place without sparking a conversation with someone. He’d tell his grandkids, “It’s a small world out there. You can usually find something in common with people, know the same people in a roundabout way, or have some common point of interest.”
Earl’s father was a logger, and Earl shared the family profession with his sons. He loved logging out west with his son Brian and back home, he took pride in removing dangerous trees from around people’s properties and cabins. He was so well liked that he was often tipped in cakes and cookies.
He was an outdoor enthusiast and had many hobbies: making knife and axe handles from both wood and deer antlers, hunting with his best friend, Lyle Gehrke, and later his children and grandchildren, watching wildlife, reading wildlife magazines, collecting guns, and traveling with his wife.
Earl served his church, Backus Nazarene, in many capacities over the years: board of trustees, building and grounds committee, ushering, service to the community, and furnace-keeping for the church building.
Earl was preceded in death by his parents, Virgil Alexander Sr., and Gertie Hoffman; his brothers, Virgil Alexander Jr., Louis Alexander, Peter Alexander Sr., Roy Alexander, Glen Alexander; his sons, Robin Alexander and Brian Alexander; and most recently his sweetheart and bride of 69 years, Constance Alexander (Bundy).
Surviving family members include children Marcus Alexander (Kristy) of Littleton, Colo., Kathy Cox (Phil) of Bemidji, and Merry Alexander (Larry Kipf) of Forsyth, Mont.; 18 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. Earl also has many nephews and nieces that he enjoyed keeping in touch with and spending time with as often as possible.
Earl was a man of his word and his children figure he went “home,” just in time so that he and Connie could spend their 70th anniversary together.
Arrangements are with Kline Funeral Home in Pine River, Minn.