Long-time Tracy resident, Orville James Gullickson, age 96, passed away Thursday, October 20, 2016 at the Golden Living Center in Slayton. No services will be held. Online condolences may be sent at www.stephensfuneralservice.com. Stephens Funeral Service – Tracy Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Orville was born April 9, 1920 in Tracy, Minnesota to Andrew and Jennie Gullickson and attended Tracy schools. Shortly after receiving his draft notice, he married Phyllis A. Kolbe on July 18, 1941. He figured that if he was old enough to go to war, he was old enough to get married. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations from 1942 until 1946. Orville used the GI Bill to get his pilot’s license and would fly to northern Minnesota to visit in-laws and fish and to Galveston, Texas for some relief from the Minnesota winters. Many times he was marooned at some small airport on route because of a snow storm. Even in good weather he had his adventures, like making an emergency landing in a wheat field because he ran out of gas.
After the war he took over his father’s gas station at the corner of Morgan and Highway 14. Eventually he expanded it to include a café and subsequently a dance hall, the Neon Inn. Lots of “old time” bands played at the Neon on Saturday nights.
After he retired from the Neon, he occupied his summers with running a laying house for chickens, tending a vegetable garden, and doing hauling. In the winter he became a “snowbird” and he and Phyllis would take off for Arizona. Eventually they bought a house in Mesa. The life suited him well. He enjoyed the warm weather, eating oranges and grapefruit from his backyard trees for breakfast every morning, playing cards, and eating out – the all-you-can-eat buffets were his favorite. Toward the end of their lives, Orville and Phyllis returned to Tracy and passed the remainder of their days in the place they considered “home.”
Orville was preceded in death by Phyllis, his wife of 73 years, an older sister Esther, and a brother Arthur. He is survived by daughter Karen and son-in-law Tom (John T. Booker) of Lawrence, Kansas.