Robert “Bob” Gorham, of Mora, died on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at Cambridge Medical Center. He was 88 years old.
FUNERAL SERVICE will be on Saturday, March 14th at 11:00 A.M. at Mora United Methodist Church with Rev. Robert Pesola officiating.
VISITATION will be on Friday, March 13th from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Akkerman-Ingebrand Funeral Home; plus one hour prior to the funeral service (from 10:00-11:00 a.m.) on Saturday at the church.
INTERMENT will be at Oakwood Cemetery in Mora.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to: The Mora United Methodist Church, The Mora Vasaloppet, or the Mora Education Foundation.
If you are so inclined, please wear RED SOCKS to the funeral in honor of Bob.
Robert Burton Gorham passed away at the Cambridge Medical Center on March 10, 2015 at the age of 88 years. Bob was born June 30th, 1926 to Frank and Frances Gorham in Mora, MN. He grew up in Mora on the family homestead with his older brother Wilbur (Jack) and sisters Donna and Marie. Bob joined the Mora Methodist church during his school years and at the time of his death had been a member for 82 years. Growing up, he worked a paper route with Jack which covered all of Mora, played football at school, and worked at Kanabec Hardware – the Mora hardware store owned by his father and a partner. After graduating from Mora High School in 1944 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, wanting to serve his country in World War II, but the war ended prior to his finishing training.
Following his Army discharge he enrolled at Macalester College for a short time. Bob soon felt the pull of his family and moved back to Mora to begin working with Frank and Jack in the hardware store selling everything from hardware to pumps, windmills, tractors, refrigerators, gas stoves, heaters and bottled gas (propane in 100 lb. exchange cylinders). Bob steered the business into the bulk distribution of propane and grew the operation, by now called Northwest LP Gas, into an industry leader in East Central Minnesota. Bob embraced technology, installing a computer to schedule propane deliveries (at a time when computer programs were uploaded on cassette tapes) and obtaining a patent for a vaporizer to increase pumping rates. He was elected president of the Minnesota LP Gas Association and later received its G. F. Bursinger award, that association’s highest award for personal service to the propane industry.
While back in Mora he met, fell in love with and, on June 6, 1953, married Marilyn Hansen of Warman. Together they raised three children: Michael, Patrick and Julie. Bob, Jack and their partners started and operated many other businesses during their careers including Oakwood Court – a rental housing complex in St.Cloud; People’s National Bank – now Neighborhood National Bank in Mora; Gorhams’ Construction – later Gorham-Oien Mechanical, a mechanical contracting company in Mora; Consolidated Storage – a natural gas liquids storage facility and, later on, a fractionation facility built near Hutchinson; KS and CAN AM Liquids – a natural gas liquids marketing company with offices in Calgary and Houston. Bob made friends in each of these ventures and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and traveling with them as well as with his many other friends and with his family.
At the age of 55 he was told that he was ‘too old’ to complete the World Loppet tour, racing in at least ten cross-country ski races around the world covering distances of up to 90 kilometers. Naturally, he was determined to do it. His first race in the series was the 1981 Vasaloppet in Sweden – which took him 12 hours to complete! His tenth was in Canada in 1985. He was the 176th person in the world to complete the tour. Throughout his life Bob traveled to more than 20 countries and most states. Many of Bob’s US and Canadian trips had him doing the flying as a commercial, multi-engine, instrument-rated pilot. Bob was also an active supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, the Masonic Lodge, the Vasaloppet as a board member and trail worker and of Ducks Unlimited. Through it all he sported his trademark red socks.
Bob was preceded in death by his father, Frank; mother, Frances; stepmother, Helen; brother, Jack; and a stillborn son. He is survived by his wife Marilyn; two sisters, Donna Gorham and Marie (Gary) Babcock; two sons Pat (Carmel) and Mike (Wendy) Gorham; one daughter Julie (Bruce) Freeman; grandchildren, Rachel (Tony), Neil, Thomas, Eugene, Nicholas, Angela and Lisa; and great-grandchildren Anna and Lydia.
Funeral Service was held on Saturday, March 14th at Mora United Methodist Church with Rev. Robert Pesola officiating. Music was provided by Phyllis Junnila, Randy Reynolds, Julie Freeman, Ruth Smith and the Mora United Methodist Praise Team. Pallbearers were Bruce Freeman, Jeff Gorham, Jon Gorham, Neil Gorham, Tony Sorrentino and Nick Wells. Interment was at Oakwood Cemetery in Mora. Arrangements were made by Akkerman-Ingebrand Funeral Home of Mora.