NORTHFIELD — If you are reading this then celebrate with us the life of Evelyn Rosetta Barsness Gates - Little Evalina to her dad. Picture her as a barefoot, honey-blonde country girl riding bareback on her family's faithful workhorses, traveling to church and school in a cozy sleigh on wintry mornings, walking miles to visit neighbors or buy a special treat at a general store and attending a one room schoolhouse in Webster, where she and her classmates and siblings hunkered down for the night during the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940.
The youngest of nine siblings, Evie and her sister had an abrupt change in their lives upon the premature death of their mother, Hattie; Evie was then 13 years old. With five of his six grown boys serving in the Armed Services, the newly widowed Andrew left his large manicured farm for a less demanding lifestyle and moved into Northfield with his two youngest children. It was in the old Northfield High School on Union Street that the beautiful Evie met and fell in love with the dashingly handsome Frankie Gates. Wedding in Texas on May 19, 1949 while Frank was stationed at Kelly Air Field, they eventually returned to Northfield, purchased a home on 10 wooded acres where they raised their four children: Larry, Richard, Kristin, and Susan.
Evie dove into her children's activities to both support and lead - including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Luther League, classroom parent, and the architect of the best home birthday parties ever. Known for her never-ending production of chocolate chip cookies, the Gates home was a gathering place for her children's friends. Whether it was the first meeting or the twentieth, her children's and grandchildren's friends were genuinely welcomed along with the words, "Grandma gives hugs."
Ever mindful of her Christian upbringing, she hosted St. Peter's Lutheran Church Bible Study Circles, taught Sunday School and got her brood of four properly dressed and out the door each Sunday for services. She had the voice of an angel, often harmonizing to the much beloved old time gospels and hymns of faith; she sang with her siblings whenever she could. God Be With You Till We Meet Again was sung by surviving siblings at their brother's or sister's funerals.
Evie's home and spacious yard was equal showcase and playground with flower gardens, swings, sprinklers, puppies, kittens, an occasional duck, goat, rabbit, and even orphaned wildlife. Neighborhood night games in the summer, annual Christmas extended family gatherings, and woodland Easter egg hunts were much anticipated traditions. Sit down family meals were the norm and no one said "shut-up" unless they were prepared for a dose of correction.
Snakes, salamanders, turtles, frogs, owls (yes, owls) and the more conventional hamster and guinea pig sometimes explored Evie's well-maintained home; unflappable to the core, she simply called one of the four to collect the escapee or scooped it up herself and went about her business. Her can-do spirit permeated all family activities making them fun, memorable, and comfortable as Gates family vacations often involved camping trips in an Airstream trailer, fly fishing trips to the Brule River, Black Hills, and of course those annual sublime summers on Lake Mille Lacs.
After her children were grown, Evie worked at Petricka's Country Market for 20 years as the Health & Beauty Aide. She derived much pleasure from this position as she had not only a fondness for the Petricka family but also her coworkers and customers. It was rare for her to miss an hour of work much less a day.
The last of her large family, Evie was welcomed into heaven on May 2, 2021 by her mom and dad (Hattie and Andrew), her siblings Jens, Nels, Mabel, Fred, Harold, Luther, Clarence, and Ruthie. What a reunion! We miss her and look forward to joining the heavenly reunion where she will undoubtedly welcome us. We love you. Til we meet again. Frank, Larry, Richard (Becky), Kris (Brad), Susie (Bill), Grands - Ted (Molly), Jenny (Travis), Joe, Gina (Peter), David, Andrea (Darrin), Ben (Christine), Abby, Tom (Savet), Claire (David) and Great-Grands - Gabrianna, Emersyn, Theo, Andrew, Frankie, Emily and Samantha.
A service will be held at a future date not yet determined.
In lieu of flowers or donations to the family, please direct memorials to: St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 418 E Sumner Street, Northfield, MN 55057; Minnesota Land Trust, 2356 University Ave W, Suite 240, Saint Paul, MN 55114; or Trout Unlimited, P.O. Box 7400, Woolly Bugger, WV 25438-7400.