Surrounded by family, former Baudette area resident Eugene “Gene” Victor Storla finished his earthly race and was welcomed into heaven. Death occurred Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at the age of 93 at the Moscow, Idaho Hospital. Injuries suffered in a fall at his Moscow residence resulted in his death.
Gene was born January 24, 1921 at Halstad, Minnesota; the only child of Victor and Amy Storla. His first few years were spent growing up on a farm in Lehr, North Dakota. In 1929 the Storla family, along with Gene’s grandparents H. H. and Cornelia Storla, moved to Baudette and set up farming 12 miles south of Baudette.
His early schooling in the Rapid River area was followed by attendance and graduation from the Agricultural College (the “A.C.”) at Crookston. There he learned the blacksmithing trade which he used throughout his life. Also attending the A.C. was another Baudette area student, Patricia “Pat” Johnson, who became his wife on July 11, 1942. They were blessed with a marriage of nearly 69 years before Pat passed away. Their marriage also produced four sons.
In addition to his blacksmithing skills, Gene learned to be a mechanic. This skill served him well in repairing and maintaining both farm and automotive equipment for the Storla’s as well as for neighbors.
From 1950 to 1962 the Storla family was also an early part of the “snowbirds” as they annually moved from Baudette in the late fall and returned from southern Texas in April.
Along with his father, his wife and sons, Gene farmed nearly 500 acres in the Rapid River area. This consisted of both grain crops as well as livestock. His last farming venture was raising sheep but wolves seriously damaged this effort. It was then that Gene noticed an ad in the Grand Forks Herald newspaper for a mechanic at a Moscow farm implement dealer. Gene said to Pat, “For a dime, I’d answer that ad!” Moments later Pat laid a dime on the table beside Gene. That led to a job and a move for the family to Moscow in the late 1960’s.
Gene was a man of many talents as he loved to work in the soil, enjoyed making things for his children and grandchildren, and with Pat, made beautiful woven rugs. He used his metal working skills to do such diverse things as welding on new “points” on plowshares, design a mowing machine for hillsides that was featured on a Paul Harvey broadcast, or make miniature accessories for the handmade dolls Pat made. His curious mind was always looking for things to make and figuring out how things worked.
Gene had a fantastic sense of humor that could surface at the most unexpected time. He loved to banter with his dearly loved mother-in-law Mabel Johnson who could keep right up with him.
A hobby that started with a few nutcracker figurines for Pat, led Gene and family to continue to collect well over 800 more. That collection was featured in an issue of the Baudette Region and in several other regional publications in various states. Those nutcrackers provided many hours of enjoyment for Gene.
Gene was a kind and gentle man whose word was good as gold. Many times he would help someone in need regardless of how it might negatively affect him. He taught his sons the value of an honest days work and the importance of the golden rule.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, and a daughter-in-law, Josie Storla. He is survived by sons David (Carole) of Ellensburg, Washington, Bruce and Harlan of Moscow, and Kelly (Lynn) of Saint Paul. He is also survived by grandsons Leon (Bevin), Robbie and Willie; granddaughters Lori (David) Drews, Lisa (Yien) Chen and Tracey Storla; great grandsons Tyler and Casey Chen; great granddaughter Amber Chen, 10 nieces and nephews and his faithful dog Theo.
Per Gene’s request, there will be no services. Rest in peace!