We are truly saddened by the loss of Mr. Gordon Gerling, Air Force Veteran and former state representative, who died on July 14th. It was through Gordon’s passion and commitment that the project came to life. Gordon wanted something that portrayed how democracy has been preserved and protected, “something educational to help future generations understand our history and the role our military played in maintaining freedom and democracy.”
We hold his wife of 73 years, Bette, and his family in our thoughts and prayers. Gordon was a thoughtful, respectful and genuinely kind human being and we are grateful to have known him during his long life. He is already dearly missed.
For the third year in a row, Charles Kapsner has welcomed members of the Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange to his studio. Shown here is Kapsner presenting Lt. Colonel Per Olav Vaagland with a giclee print of the US Army, the first painting completed for the Veterans Project. Kapsner is also joined by several members of the Norwegian Home Guard at the Committal Hall.
The exchange began in 1974 and is the longest-running military exchange partnership between any two nations. The yearly exchange promotes good will and sharpens military readiness between the nations as well as provides opportunities for cultural understanding among its participants. The Norwegian Home Guard Soldiers are staying at Camp Ripley.
Kapsner is honored to host members of the Norwegian Home Guard, and will have Lt. Colonel Vaagland at his studio again this week to complete a drawing sketch of him. “It is a complete honor to engage with the intelligent, articulate and skilled members of the Home Guard. It’s the third year for me, last year Lt. Colonel Seland sat for me, and the year before it was Colonel Wold. This is a fantastic cultural exchange, given the great artistic heritage of Norway.”
On behalf of the project team, the Minnesota State Veterans Memorial Association, and artist Charles Kapsner, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Potter family on the tragic loss of Dr. Earl Potter, III.
Dr. Potter was President of Saint Cloud State University, and he served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1969 to 1993 and retired at the rank of captain. We are truly saddened by the loss of this wonderful man, committed Veteran, and champion of education. We hold his family in our thoughts.
This Memorial weekend, I am reminded of the great, and many, sacrifices of the men and women of all branches of the U.S. military. While the weekend is one that unofficially begins our Minnesota summer, its designation is a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered. The public is welcome to attend the memorial service at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery on Sunday, May 29th with music starting at 1:30, and the program at 2:00. And if you are not able to attend this service, I hope you are able to attend another of your choice.
With gratitude to all Veterans,
Charles Gilbert Kapsner
A generous donation was made during the dedication of the Coast Guard painting, and came via the efforts of Bryce Soltis, this year’s Minnesota American Legion Auxiliary Honorary Department Junior President. She started her term in the fall, and chose the Project as her fundraising project. Her enthusiasm, warmth, generosity and caring heart were on full display during the event, where she is shown, below, with Greg Zylka, Fundraising Committee Member and Mayor of Little Falls. Bryce’s dad, Alan Soltis, and grandfather Billy Soltis are buried at the Cemetery, which made the project dear to her. Thanks to Bryce for her generous commitment, and to her and her family for attending. What a terrific young lady!
The Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery will host a reception Saturday, Feb 6th at 2 pm honoring the Coast Guard with the unveiling of the 8 X 10 foot oil painting recently completed. This painting is the third in a series of five, each depicting a branch of the US military (the Army and Navy are complete). Erik Sogge, Cemetery Administrator will serve as emcee. The program will include comments by Dr. Earl Potter, President of St. Cloud State University, (Coast Guard Captain, retired). Additional comments will be shared by Little Falls Mayor Greg Zylka and the artist. An Honor Guard from the Duluth-based Coast Guard Cutter Alder will be present, along with Veterans from local Honor Guards including Sauk Rapids VFW, Rice and Waite Park American Legion Posts. Following the ceremony the public is invited to a reception at the Little Falls American Legion Post 46 starting at 3:00 PM. Take time this Saturday afternoon to pay your respects and honor the Coast Guard.