Gary Allan Ives,

Poet, musician, gentle spirit…our beloved husband, son, brother, brother in law, and uncle, Gary Allan Ives, departed this world on Oct. 12, 2018.

Gary was born Dec. 30, 1951 to Lawrence W. “Ole” Ives and Marjorie (Nyseth) Ives.He grew up in Winona, MN, the oldest of 4 siblings. He graduated from Houston High School in 1970.

Gary married Veronica (Bonnie, Ronnie) Virnig on August 18, 1979; the wedding guests raced down to the levee to wave to President and Mrs. Carter as they passed on the Mississippi Queen. Through Bonnie, the love of his life, he inherited a large extended family, and would quietly watch the commotion of the raucous gatherings with an amused smile and a twinkle in his eye. Gary was welcomed to the Cottagewood Senior Community by the caring staff to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary with an ice cream cake and balloon party.

Gary worked at several foundries in Winona throughout his career. He survived a number of life threatening accidents during his life and was told several times that he might never walk again. But with diligence and persistence, he defied the odds.He would use this same diligence and persistence in his fight against Alzheimer’s.He would often comment “tomorrow will be a better day”

Gary worked hard throughout his life, but his true passions were music and poetry. He was an accomplished, self-taught guitarist, and mastered the intricacies of folk legends and guitar greats.Family get-togethers always had Gary strumming and singing in his soft, sweet voice. He also developed an interest in the violin, mandolin, mouth harp, and Irish bodhran drum and proceeded to teach himself to play. In his later years, he had a harmonica always on hand, to the delight of those around him. Music provided Gary with comfort in his final years as Alzheimer’s disease stole more and more of his abilities. Throughout the years after diagnosis, Gary continued to sing, proudly participating in the “Forget Me Notes” chorus sponsored by the Winona Dementia Friendly Community group in Winona.

Gary attended college at St. Teresa’s and Winona State University. He was a philosopher at heart, as evidenced by his favorite classes, English Literature, Logic and Ancient Chinese History. His poetry won awards at Winona State University.

Gary was an avid fan of the New York Yankees and was always proud to wear the green and gold of the Green Bay Packers. His ultimate dream was to be the field goal kicker for Green Bay. Go, Gary!

Gary was an animal lover. His childhood pets were his horse, aptly named “Hope”, and the family dogs.His special friends were his and Bonnie’s “birdies”. He could often be seen with a bird or two perched on his shoulder or one of them snuggling up to him for a shared nap or following him around the house calling “Bird-boy, Bird-boy”.

Gary and Bonnie loved antiques, motorcycle rides, wading in the ocean (be it the warm surf of the Gulf near Fort Myers FL or the biting Pacific!), sipping good coffee, and most importantly, each other. They spent many a summer weekend making the rounds of garage and estate sales searching for and finding “buried treasure.”

Gary will be greatly missed by his family and friends. His courage in facing the ravages of Alzheimer’s is an inspiration to us all. His sister, Linda, echoed the thoughts of many who knew Gary, “He was a gentle, caring man.” Gary left his mark of kindness on many hearts. Many times while going about the community, people would stop and start a conversation just to catch up on activities and shared memories.

Gary was preceded in death by his father Ole, his niece/goddaughter Mary Catherine Virnig, and his grandparents.He is survived and cherished by his wife, Bonnie, his mother, Marjorie, sisters Linda (Gerry “LED”) Ledebuhr and Laurene Johnson and brother Darrel Ray Ives; sisters and brothers-in-law Mike (Ruth Rogers) Virnig, Barbara Virnig, Dan (Carla Fuglsang) Virnig, Terry (Janice Lee) Virnig, Linda (John) Kaufmann, Donna (James Behmke) Virnig, Ann (Don) Hoechst, Arden (Patti Hook) Virnig, Tina (James) Meyer; numerous nieces and nephews; Gary loved and welcomed into his extended family his daughter by choice, Martha Hernandez-Martinez; sisters by choice, Judith Williams, Mary Vrable Miles, Nancy Podgorsek (Dan) White; Mame and so many many others from all ages and walks of life.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to Alzheimers research, Winona Friendship Center or Winona Dementia Friendly Community group.

A Celebration of Gary’s life will be 5 p.m., Monday, October 22, 2018 at Hoff Celebration of Life Center – Goodview led by Funeral Celebrant Dianne Rislow.Visitation will be 3 p.m. until the time of the service.Please share a memory of Gary, sign his online guestbook and view his video tribute when it becomes available at

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