Gerald Steene, 1944-2016

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Funeral services for Gerald E. Steene of Alden will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Alden. The Rev. Greg Ofsdahl will officiate. Interment will be at Greenwood Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at the church. Online condolences are welcome at

Gerald “Gerry” Eugene Steene was born Aug. 27, 1944, the son of Remore and Ruth (Wadding) Steene. He passed away at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Prairie Senior Cottages in Albert Lea at the age of 71 years, 5 months, and 21 days.

Gerald Steene

Gerald Steene

Gerry grew up in Glenville, going to school there until his high school graduation in 1962. He was a good student and excelled in music, track and baseball. He and his classmates were in the first class to graduate from Glenville High School, having gone the entire six years there.  He was Glenville High School’s first Homecoming king the fall of 1961.On July 26, 1964, he married his high school sweetheart and classmate, Helen Kvam, at Silver Lake Lutheran Church in rural Northwood. They immediately moved to Minneapolis where Gerry attended Minneapolis Vocational School from August 1964 until May 1965, when he graduated from the barber school. Their first child, Wade, was born May 29, 1965.

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Gerry began his barbering career as an apprentice barber on June 1, 1965, at Tom’s Barber Shop in Fairmont.  The family resided in Fairmont 21 months. During this time, Gerry achieved his master barber’s license in August 1966. Gerry opened his own barber under the name “Gerry’s Barber Shop” on March 7, 1967, in Alden. Because housing in Alden was unavailable at the time, they resided in Albert Lea for two months before moving to Alden April 23, 1967. Two more sons were added to the family during the early years. Shawn was born Aug. 12, 1969, and Shannon on Dec.18, 1970.

Gerry barbered in Alden full time until May 18, 1991, when a lawn mower accident caused him to lose a finger on his left hand. He could not barber for a time, but enrolled at Albert Lea Vocational School in the industrial maintenance program the fall of 1991. He re-opened his barber shop on Jan. 18, 1992, on a part time basis. A year after his accident, Gerry was hired as a custodian at the vocational school. He still had one year of his industrial maintenance program left. Therefore, during the school year of 1992-93, he worked full time in the afternoons and went to school mornings, also running his barber shop on Saturdays. Gerry worked in the custodial department of the school until 1998 when rheumatoid arthritis caused him to have to quit that job. The school found him a job in the library and he worked there until retiring in May of 2010.

Gerry suffered a stroke in 2008 which was the beginning of the end for him. It took some memory from him, although he could still function quite well. By the time he was done work, he realized t he had memory problems. He still kept up with his barbering three days a week and valued his customers both as patrons and friends. On Nov. 30, 2012, he was diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. He continued to live at home with his wife until Aug. 31, 2013, when he entered Prairie Senior Cottages in Albert Lea, where he was well liked. Gerry was known as “the Alden Barber.”

God gave him the gift of music and he really used it.  He played cornet, baritone, and tuba in the high school band. He had a beautiful voice. With his wife as his accompanist, he sang at many funerals, weddings, special occasions and church services. He sang in the Redeemer Lutheran Church Choir and the Area Community Cantata for many years, doing a lot of solo work. He and his wife also had the Redeemer Lutheran Junior Choir for about six years and taught Sunday School music together for a total of 14 years. The children loved him, calling him “The Singer Man.”

God gave him the gift of talking to people and making them feel comfortable, which is something a barber needs to do. He helped other people with their personal problems. Sometimes he would come home late from work because someone needed him to talk to. He always gave of his time to other people. Gerry was very handy with his hands and tools. He did his own remodeling of his home. He was an exceptionally good worker. He always had time to help other people, even with their mechanical problems. Gerry served two terms on the Redeemer Lutheran Church council. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

He is survived by Helen, his wife of 51 years; his sons Wade (Carolina), Shawn (Denise) and Shannon (special friend, Wes); five grandchildren, Chris, Katie, Jenny, George and Henry Steene; sister, Linda Bighley; brothers Butch (Sandy) and Mike; stepbrother, Steven; nieces and  nephews; many great-nieces and great-nephews; aunts, uncles; and a host of cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; grandparents; a sister in infancy; a nephew; and many aunts and uncles.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Alzheimer’s Research.