Gagne, Verne Clarence age 89 of Excelsior, passed away April 27, 2015. Preceded in death by wife, Mary; brother, Will; sister, Ruby. Survived by children, Greg (Mary) Gagne, Kathleen Whistler, Elizabeth (Will) Ahern and Donna Gagne; grandchildren, J.P., Gail, Peter, Summer, John, and Robert; siblings, Tom, Adele, Joe, Nancy, Robert, Ed, Gene, John, Jackie, Chuck, Sharon, and Diane. Born in 1926, Verne grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Leaving home at age 14 after his mother passed away, he entered Robbinsdale High School participating in football, wrestling and baseball. It wasn't easy for Verne, working many hours before school sweeping and scrubbing a local tavern and beauty shop. Still managing to win district, regional and state championships in wrestling and was selected to play in the All-State-Football team. In 1943 Gagne was recruited to at the University of Minnesota, becoming a member of the All-Conference Team that same year. Entering the Marines in I944, he was based at El Toro, California and played on the marine football team. Which at the time was ranked number one in America, Verne was such an outstanding star that he could have written his own ticket as to which college he would attend following his discharge from the service. He chose to return to the University of Minnesota where his dual interests in football and wrestling brought him recognition as a top athlete. In college he won Big Ten wrestling Championships four times (1944, 1947, 1948 and 1949); NCAA Championships In 1948 and 1949; he was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1948; and he also won the AAU Championship in 1949. In football he played end for the Gophers, winning Honorable Mention in the All-American voting. In 1949 he was asked to play in the college all-star football game in Chicago against the NFL Champions the Philadelphia Eagles. But wrestling was given the upper hand when it came to choosing a profession. Gagne entered the world of professional wrestling in the spring of 1949. In I960, Gagne returned to the Twin Cities with the newly formed American Wrestling Association becoming the World's Heavyweight Champion. But the success of Verne Gagne was not just the story of an athlete or promotor. It was not just his commitment to community or to helping those less fortunate. It was that he was a wonderful and loving family man. He cherished his time with his wife, children and grandchildren. Fishing, skiing, hiking in the woods, riding horses, eating a good meal or boating on Lake Minnetonka. He cherished those moments. He will be greatly missed by all. Visitation 4-7 PM Monday, May 4. Memorial Service 11 AM Tuesday, May 5 with visitation beginning at 10 AM BOTH HELD AT Pax Christi Catholic Community, 12100 Pioneer Trail, Eden Prairie. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the University of Minnesota Wrestling Team. Edina Chapel 952-920-3996

Published on May 3, 2015

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