Gary Lynn Westlund, 72, of Ashland, Wisconsin passed away on Friday, August 16, 2019 at home while holding his wife’s hand. Gary was born Friday, August 15, 1947 to Beulah A. Nelson in Racine, Wisconsin, later adopted by Henning O. Westlund. He lived in Ashland, Wisconsin until he graduated from Ashland High School in 1965. A Vietnam era veteran, he served in the Army National Guard from 1965 to 1972.
In 1967, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and began his forty-year railroad career. Starting in the Milwaukee Road store/supply department, he transferred within six months to the operating department as a Fireman. He was promoted to Engineer where he ran freight and passenger trains for the Milwaukee Road, later Soo Line/Canadian Pacific. He retired as an Engineer running passenger trains for Chicago’s commuter rail passenger line, METRA.
Gary spent fifty-seven years searching for the love of his life, Patricia (Arnieri), always referring to her as “the one I waited for.” They were united in marriage at the Williams Bay Lutheran Church in Williams Bay, Wisconsin on March 18, 2006. Together they enjoyed traveling and spending winters in Mesa, Arizona.
In 2007, Gary retired to his native, beloved Ashland, Wisconsin with his wife, Patricia. There, he enjoyed country living, watching deer, bear, wolves, eagles and other wildlife that visited his backyard and pond. His boat, Procrastination, was docked at the Ashland Marina for the past ten years. There he enjoyed summer days cruising Lake Superior and having friends aboard his back deck. He designed and built a shop and pole barn where he enjoyed countless hours working on numerous projects.
Gary led an enthusiastic and well-rounded life. Gary was an aviation enthusiast, crewed for and raced sprint cars, and held a captain’s license as a yachtsman. He will be remembered always for his love of anything with wheels, skis, wings, or propellers – along with his enjoyment of a few beers now and then. His love of going fast in or on anything defined his personality and made him who he was. He was an avid hunter, known once to have shot two deer with one bullet. A voracious reader, he was very inquisitive about subjects ranging from history to the environment to current events. Gary was a fabulous and frequent storyteller, and those who knew him will recount fondly his ability to spin a tale. Above all, Gary was a loyal, steadfast and trusted friend to many.
Gary was also an exceptional dog trainer. He had a knack for winning his dogs’ hearts and best behavior. Among his most loved dogs were his German Shepard (Smokey), Golden Retrievers (Booner, Teddy, and Axel), and his mother’s Maltese (Blossom). His last, faithful, grand-dog companion, Bauer, will miss him deeply.
Gary is survived by his loving wife of thirteen years, Patricia; stepson, Joshua Concon, Chicago, Illinois; and stepdaughter, Lindsey Concon (Christopher Kyrola), Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
Among the many who will miss him are his brother, Bryan (Julie) Westlund, Spooner, Wisconsin; sister, Margene K. Westlund, Yorkville, Illinois; mother-in-law, Lidia Arnieri, Arlington Heights, Illinois; sister-in-law, Rosanna (Michael) Rich, Arlington Heights, Illinois; brother-in-law, Giovanni Arnieri, Barrington, Illinois and former sister-in-law, Kimberly Arnieri; brother-in-law, Salvatore (Michelle) Arnieri, Mesa, Arizona; nieces, Terra (Nate) Marshall, Tiffany (Nathan) Whittington, Victoria Rich, Lidia Rich and Alexandra Arnieri; nephews, Vincent Rich, Nicholas Arnieri and Alfredo Arnieri; great-nieces and nephews, Liza, Jack, Ian and Ellie Marshall and Adrianna Whittington; aunts, Gladys Dickrell, Lillian Tolliver and Adeline Rubio; many cousins; and countless friends, most especially his lifelong friends, Terry Bartels and Tommy Garrington, who were like brothers to him.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Beulah and Henning Westlund; infant sister, Joanne Westlund; special aunt and uncle, Margaret and Walter Swanson; special cousin, Sonny Swanson; father-in-law, Alfredo Arnieri; maternal grandparents, Axel and Maria Nelson; paternal grandparents, Nels and Anna Westlund; and many additional uncles, aunts, cousins and friends.
A gathering of family and friends will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 at Saron Lutheran Church in Ashland and will continue until the 12:00 p.m. hour of service with Rev. Paul Simmons officiating.
Luncheon at Saron Lutheran Church will follow the Liturgy of Christian Burial. Interment at the Mason Cemetery, Mason, WI will then take place with military honors under the auspices of the United Chequamegon Area Veterans.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Mountain Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Ashland and Mellen, WI.
Online condolences for Gary’s family may be left at MountainFuneralHomes.com.