Gordon Richard Garnos, age 81, of Watertown, SD, passed away on December 9, 2016, surrounded by his wife and family. Funeral services were held on December 13, 2016, at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Watertown. Pastor Kent Stillson was the officiate. Music was provided by A. J. Sherrill as organist with the Barbershoppers as vocalists.
Interment will be at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD, at a later date. Honorary pallbearers will be the “Wheel Inn Coffee Groups” and members of the Watertown Elks Lodge #838. Active pallbearers will be: Jerry Miller, Claire Konold, Carroll Moe and George Heller.
Gordon was born in Presho, South Dakota on April 6, 1935, to Carl and Louise (Sehnert) Garnos. He graduated from Presho High School in 1953. After serving five years in the U.S. Air Force and working a couple years, he graduated from the University of South Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964.
He became a reporter for the Watertown Public Opinion, and after about a year he was named the Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society for South Dakota. Two years later, he returned to the newsroom at the Public Opinion, later holding the positions of Area Editor and News Editor, and then named Editor of the newspaper in 1980. He retired in 2002.
During his 36-year career in journalism, Gordon received numerous state and national awards. He was named a Lusk Fellow at South Dakota State University and was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2010, Gordon was honored to be inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.
Over the years, Gordon was recognized for his many acts of community service on the local and state level. He was a member of the Watertown Parks and Recreation Board for 22 years, and in 2002 was elected to the Watertown City Council, where he served two terms. Gordon was appointed to the South Dakota Career Service Commission in 1991, and served until earlier this year. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce, and was elected President of the Chamber in 1986.
Gordon was a 35-year member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, serving as the Exalted Ruler of the Watertown Lodge in 1982 and 1983. He was named the South Dakota Elk of the Year in 1985, served as the District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler in 1988, and as the State President in 1991 and 1992.
Garnos was an active member of the Jaycees, where he served as the chapter president in Watertown, and received their Distinguished Service Award. He was also a member of Lions International and Rotary International.
In 1994, Gordon became a charter member of the Karing Kapers Board of Directors, to raise funds for benevolent activities in the Watertown area. He also served on Watertown’s Salvation Army Advisory Board for over 20 years.
Gordon met and married Elizabeth “Beth” McFarlane while he was in the Air Force and stationed in Chester, England. Gordon was married to Beth for 59 years.
Gordon always loved singing, and was a member of a distinguished male choir while in Chester, where he met Beth’s father. He continued his singing with the barbershop choir and at church in Watertown. Gordon also operated Mr. G’s Skate Inn in Watertown from 1973 – 1977. Gordon and Beth lived on Lake Kampeska for many years, and he enjoyed cruising the lake on their pontoon boat.
Gordon is survived by his sainted wife Beth; three children: William “Bill” (Lori) Garnos, Gladstone, Missouri, Heather (John) Simmonds, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Richard Garnos, Watertown, South Dakota; three grandchildren: Marshall (Caitlin) Simmonds, Charleston, South Carolina, Jordan Simmonds, Kalamazoo, and Elizabeth Garnos, Louisville, Kentucky; and one brother Verle “Bob” (Pat) Garnos, Midwest City, Oklahoma.
Gordon was preceded in death by his parents Carl and Louise, and a son Christopher.