Gary D Whipple

April 9, 1949January 4, 2021

Whipple, Gary D. age 71 of Blaine passed away January 4, 2021. Preceded in death by his parents Millie & Dewey and his sister Janet. Surviving are his wife Joanne, children: Larry Amundson, Jennifer (Tony) Kusske, and Ryan (Nissa) Whipple and four grandchildren. He was an educator and coach in the St. Paul Public Schools for 35 years. He grew up in northern Minnesota on Lake Kabetogama with a passion for the outdoors. A celebration of life will be held 2 PM Sunday January 10, 2021 at Gearhart Funeral Home 11275 Foley Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN with visitation one hour prior beginning at 1 PM. Services will be live streamed at


  • Celebration of Life

    Sunday, January 10, 2021



Gary D Whipple

have a memory or condolence to add?

James Ashworth

January 15, 2021

I taught with Gary. I always liked his smile and good nature.

Mary Graves

January 11, 2021

I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of Gary. I enjoyed hearing his stories of Kabetogama and appreciated his assistance with boat tours at Voyageurs. My sympathy to his family.

Miranda Challeen

January 10, 2021

I'm fortunate and grateful to have worked alongside Gary in Voyageurs National Park. He loved this area even before it was a park, and he loved sharing this place with everybody--be it a colleague, a friend, or a stranger who came to the area for a tour.

The first years I worked with him, we had a fairly small team. Gary was part of it, and he was always willing to go above and beyond the role of a boat captain. He brought volunteers out on the water to explore and learn about the area, drove additional charter tours for the park, hiked miles to patch up broken canoes in the backcountry so campers could use them once again, held dinners for colleagues at his home, and told visitors and staff alike many stories about growing up on the lakes. One autumn, the park hosted an evening history walk that featured costumed historic characters from the area. When he learned that I needed a crosscut saw and a partner to impersonate a 2-person lumberjack team with me, he lent me a saw, donned a flannel shirt, boots, and red suspenders for the costume, and offered to join me in that part of the program. His improvised jokes and banter utterly won over visitors and staff alike that evening, and remains a fond memory.

Later, when I had the opportunity to return to Voyageurs as a team lead, Gary was always positive and supportive. He never had any trouble with the fact that I used to be a colleague and then became responsible for arranging the tour schedules and helping hire his colleagues. He continued to go above and beyond the call of duty, offered friendship to our new colleagues and visitors, and always offered helpful and positive insights.

Gary's camaraderie helped many of us experience Voyageurs as more than just a workplace, but also a place of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, and even a home. I am deeply grateful to him for his service, his kindness, and his friendship.

Karen Cleary (Manske)

January 10, 2021

Sending heartfelt condolences to all of Gary's family. May you cherish all the memories and be at peace that Gary is no longer in pain. Sending prayers of comfort.

Karen and Sean Cleary

Gail Rosenow

January 10, 2021

WE (Barry, Lawler, Bichner, Wencl, Petrie, etc.) were so fortunate to reconnect w/ 'Whip' after he returned to Como Park Senior High to fill in as counselor for the school year. Thank you Coyne for convincing Gary to do this. lol Some of our early memories go back to when Gary taught Science & coached. He performed ALL of his duties well. Students & staff loved him. Gary spoke highly of family & @ the 'monthly meetings' (that Barry Barry always arranged), showed MANY pics of family, fish, his pet deer, Loons & snowmobiling. My heartfelt sympathy to you Joanne & the family. Gary will be MISSED & was a gem of a guy...

Lindsay Brandt

January 9, 2021

Gary was one of the first people I met when I arrived at the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center to start my job as a park ranger at Voyageurs National Park 3.5 years ago. He was an excellent boat captain, and he knew everything there was to know about Kabetogama. It's hard to imagine the park without him.

On the first boat tour I ever gave, he told me he was happy to help when I needed it, but he believed in me. It was reassuring to have him there, and I turned to him to share some information with the passengers a few times on that first tour. After that first tour, I still turned to him for help with some of the tricky questions that visitors asked. No matter the question, he always knew the answer.

He was honest and not hesitant to inform me that I had talked too fast on those first few boat tours. On calm parts of the tours, when the visitors were busy taking in the scenery, Gary would sometimes offer me life advice, or share stories about his experiences. His guidance helped me grow as a park ranger, and as a person.

Gary was also incredibly generous. When he heard that a coworker and I had to go to college graduations and missed the day of training when staff visited Ellsworth Rock Garden, he offered to take us there himself later on. He often invited the ranger staff over for dinner (and some of that famous wild blueberry pie), he was happy to be a water taxi when I needed a ride across the lake to a trailhead to go camping (and refused to take money for gas), and he took me walleye fishing (when I didn’t catch any worth eating, he still fried up some that he had caught on a previous day). His gestures made me feel like a part of a community, and I can’t imagine what the three summers I spent at Voyageurs would have been like without him.

I will never forget Gary, and the next time I visit Kabetogama I know that I will think of him. I send my deepest condolences to Gary’s family. I am grateful to have been able to know such a kind and generous man.

patrick coyne

January 7, 2021

Joanne, Jenny, Ryan, and all the Whipple family,

I was so saddened to hear of Gary’s passing. Gary was such a powerfully positive influence among colleagues and friends and everyone remembers deeply personal connections with and stories about him.

I first met him when I started my 10-year tour of duty at Johnson HS as an assistant principal. School Counselor Gary was my go-to person; whenever I encountered a problem I went to him to seek his help, and he always had a common-sense, manageable solution to the problem. I told all my colleagues, both in the building and throughout the district, that if you wanted a simple solution to a complex problem, ask Gary (before that became commercialized)!

His stories of outdoor activity and adventure always fascinated me. Stories of Kabetogama, Orr, ‘the Falls’, and more were not just entertaining, they also seemed to be genuinely honest (and I never believed he embellished any of those stories). We fished together regularly, did a little snowmobiling, and at various times he invited my entire family to the home on Kabetogama. I visited in all seasons; alone, with my sons, then my brother, then a group of fishing buddies, and with my wife and daughters, and came to fully understand his passion for northernmost MN. He was generous with all he had, and never with any expectation of something in return.

All of the Coyne family who knew Gary prays for your family as you grieve and, later on, heal. He was a fabulous friend to me, and an unparalleled father and husband to you. His legacy lives on through you all!

Patrick Coyne

Maureen Seibert

January 6, 2021

I had the honor of working with Mr. Whipple, counselor, at Johnson High School when I first started as an assistant principal. A great man, always calm, level headed and to the point with a wonderful smile. My condolences to your family for this great loss.