Gaylord Gossard Has Spent His Life Helping Others
Gaylord Gossard lived some of his early years in the farm across from the Plowville site west of Kasson on old Highway 14 (now county road #34) until the family moved to a new farm west of Wasioja in 1948.
He grew up with two sisters. The year this farm kid was born his father, who suffered from asthma, also lost the fingers on his right hand from a corn picker accident so he became his dad’s “right hand” man. He attended country school in the building that was later moved to the Dodge Center Sportsman's Club.
He played football and basketball for the West Concord Cardinals but no sports in the spring season as he was busy with the farm work. He was also actively involved with the 4-H and FFA programs, with main focus on dairy. During his high school years his dad installed a six-stall milking parlor for their dairy operation.
After the high school Senior Class trip he signed up for the Army Reserve with a unit stationed at Kenyon and was on active duty for six months plus active reserve duty for 3-1/2 years which was during the Berlin Wall crisis period. Six months after graduating from high school Gaylord committed to being a full time farmer as signed a note to his parents for one-half interest in the livestock and machinery.
He met his wife, Penne from Grand Meadow, who was a student at Rochester Junior College, on a blind date. They went to a movie in Rochester with Dan and Donna (Matti) Kutzler who have lived north of Mantorville for many years. A year later, in 1965, Gaylord and Penne Twitchell were married.
In 1966 they formed a family corporation with his sister, Marion and Quinten Kleinwort, and their parents. Gossard-Kleinwort Inc. became the vehicle that has allowed the business to be passed on to future generations. They milked 120 cows and at one time farmed 1,200 acres of owned and rented land but later dropped down to approximately 900 acres.
A near tragic accident occurred in the fall of 1968 during corn drying season when Gaylord went up the grain elevator to tighten up a chain at the top and he touched a close overhead power line wire carrying 7200 volts of electricity, when reaching for a different tool.
He said he was just frozen to the elevator and couldn’t move but was thinking: Is this it and will I never see my child or family again. After a short time his body went limp and he was released from the power line but had a severe burn on his back that eventually needed skin grafting done. After a few minutes he was able to walk down the elevator to his dad and brother-in-law.
The local doctor came out and recommended he needed to be checked out at the hospital. He really didn’t suffer ill effects after this close call, he said, but whenever he has an electrocardiogram test taken it shows an abnormal activity.
The Gossaard’s have three children and eight grandchildren. Chad lives near Kasson, their daughter Shannon and another son Gunar both live in the Twin Cities area. Their three kids were all involved with sports at West Concord with Chad playing college football at Mankato while Gunar played football at North Dakota State. Their children never showed a big desire in continuing to farm and were more interested in talking to people rather than the cows, since they now work in sales with the steel industry for the boys and Jostens corporate office for Shannon.
Since West Concord did not have lights at their football field, they played their home games on Friday afternoon so it was easier to attend the games to fit in with their milking times. Gaylord said he really enjoys listening and watching sports and recalls that when KDHL radio used to broadcast the Milwaukee
Braves baseball games he became a real follower. He said he can still probably name the team starting lineup with legends Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, etc. since it was also before the Minnesota Twins existed. When Plowville was held west of Kasson in 1952, he went along with his parents and walked around the grounds among the huge crowd that came to see the Presidential candidates speak that day.
Gaylord said he had been a churchgoer all his life but when Penne’s father died in 1976 he asked why did that happen. A Bible study friend helped him answer some questions and it led to a personal relationship with Jesus a couple of years later.
They are very active members of Faith Community Church in West Concord. He became a member of the Gideons International Owatonna camp for Steele and Dodge county so visits area churches, pastors and raises funds to purchase Bibles for distribution across the world.
Starting in 1983 and until 1997, the Gossard’s and Kleinwort’s would take turns hosting a total of 17 young men from different European countries, Costa Rica, Africa and as far away as New Zealand who lived with them for eight months working on their farm. They then attended the University of Minnesota St Paul campus for the fall quarter of school. These students needed to have an interest in agriculture and had worked in the field of agriculture, he said. Penne had been involved with the AFS program so it was a good fit.
It really seemed to work well as these young men became part of their family during their stay and it also opened up new ideas and learning about their culture and the ability to share our culture and values to the students. Gaylord mentioned one student refused to use our American terms for common items as would constantly only used his own British descriptions. When the young man attended the university in the fall he got a bad time from his fellow program students who told him since they were in America to use their words instead.
When the Gossard’s took a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Europe they stayed with several of their former students homes while on that trip so it was a good homecoming, Gossard said. In 2008 another ag exchange student, Daniel Sikawa from Tanzania working on a dairy farm near Kenyon showed up at their church, he said. They hosted Daniel several times for lunch and learned his father, Titus Sikawa, was a pastor back home but was traveling in the US and would like to stop for a visit.
The Gossard’s said yes, have him stop by.
“He came and stayed with us for six weeks and has been back two times since,” Gossard said. “When here in 2019 we were able to connect him with a friend, Dick, who had a vision to feed the starving children in Africa. His ministry packages a highly balanced vitamin pack, along with proteins from several different sources, that will make the needs of six meals per package. Dick has named it Jesus Food. Titus and Dick were able to collaborate together this spring in Arusha, Tanzania to make Titus's church a hub for distributing Jesus Food in that area of Africa.”
After many discussions about their family relations as their lives seemed to be going in different directions, Gaylord felt it was time to make a huge change and it was a tough decision to make with his sister and husband but decided it was time to sell the cows and step back from the farming operation in January 1998.
He went to work for McNeilus Steel for 18 years starting as a brake press operator, which led to an area supervisor, scheduling fabrication position and finally a fabrication sales position for nine years. The company sent him to Japan to learn about new equipment that would fit their operation and his son Gunar was also along on that trip.
Gaylord retired on Jan. 16, 2016. However, Penne saw an ad in the Kasson newspaper about a job looking for people to visit farmers in Southeast Minnesota to get survey information for the USDA on livestock and crops. He was only retired for 24 hours as went to work visiting farmers for information on these surveys until Jan 1, 2020. He said he really enjoyed talking to farmers and most of them were willing to share their operation information for planting intentions, crop yields and livestock numbers which are used for government reports several times each year.
Eleven years ago the Gossard’s swapped homes a short distance away with their nephew who now farms the crop land.
Gaylord said when he was 24 years old his county commissioner asked him if he was willing to be part of the original Dodge County Zoning and Planning board as he felt Gaylord would make good decisions on how the county would handle agriculture, commercial and housing land use. It gave him a chance to meet and get to know several people who were very influential in making decisions that affect people living in the county, he said.
Gaylord served on the West Concord school board for nine years, plus was the President of the Dodge County Farm Bureau board for a period, as well as serving on the county and state American Dairy Association board. He said he really enjoyed working with long time state and national board member, Lyle Tjosaas, who was also a former Dodge County Commissioner.
Gaylord has had both knees replaced and a couple of cancer issues taken care of but the priority in his life starts with God first, his family next, and helping others which he has tried to demonstrate throughout his life and it has worked out pretty well.