Lowell Gangstad, 1935-2018
Lowell Morris Gangstad died peacefully at home Sunday, July 1, 2018.
Lowell was born in Stoughton, Wisconsin, on Jan. 8, 1935, to loving parents Morris and Lillian and was raised on their family’s dairy farm in Deerfield, Wisconsin. He attended school in Cambridge, Wisconsin, and after graduating he enrolled at Luther College and majored in music education.
This is where he met Leila, his wife of 60 years. Lowell served his country as a member of the Air Force National Guard and Reserves from 1958 to 1964. Lowell’s passion for music and his strong faith in a loving God grew as he participated in the Luther College Nordic choir under the direction of Weston Noble, his mentor and lifelong friend. He finished his masters degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa and continued to study choral music under nationally-recognized choral director Robert Shaw in San Diego.
These educational experiences prepared him well for his 39-year teaching career in Northwood-Kensett School District. From 1957 to 1996, he shared his love for music and inspired hundreds of students as they participated in one of his choirs, small groups or musical plays and variety shows. He enjoyed many years of preparing students for state music contests and judging music contests throughout north Iowa.
Shortly after moving to Northwood in the fall of 1957, Lowell joined First Lutheran Church as choir director. He served in this capacity until his recent death, 61 years later. While at First Lutheran Church he directed the senior choir, junior and golden tone choirs and taught Sunday school. He started candlelight services for the church 45 years ago and directed many Easter and Lenten Contatas, as well as numerous community and mass choirs in the north Iowa region.
For the past 22 years Lowell worked for Hogan-Bremer Funeral Home. His gentle, kind-hearted spirit was evident as he drove limousine, helped with services and often times sang for funerals.
For the past 12 years he was a proud member of North Iowa Choral Society. He was an active member of the Jaycees and Northwood Lions Club and, for 20 years, served as a board member for the Lutheran Brotherhood Branch of Worth County. He supported and was involved in countless community events and activities.
Lowell was a loving role model for his entire family. He married his wife, Leila, 60 years ago, after they met at Luther College. He was an amazing father to four daughters, Sandra (Gary) Hess, Lori Kendall (Gary Goeman), Julie (Matthew) Grotnes and Kari (Jeff) Johnson; and eight grandchildren, Alex Hess, Abby (Sam) Prentice, Emily (Nick) Nelson, Elsa Kendall, Sam and Ben Grotnes and Tyler and Drew Johnson. More recently, he celebrated the birth of his first great-granddaughter, Hazel Nelson.
“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”