Richard A. Gemmel, 73

Published 10:50 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

Richard “Dick” A. Gemmel, 73, formerly of Austin, Minn., ascended to his new position 3 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, at Hospice of East Texas-Homeplace in Tyler, Texas, after complications with his several-year battle against cancer.

Richard Gemmel

Richard was a testament to the power of prayer, having beaten multiple cancers throughout his adult life. As the angels rejoiced in his arrival, family found peace and comfort in his tremendous faith.

Richard was born in Mower County, Minn., Oct. 15, 1937, the son of Kenneth and Milda Gemmel. He attended elementary, middle school and high school in Austin, Minn., and graduated in 1955. He attended Austin Junior College for two years before moving to Winona, Minn., where he attended Winona State and received his bachelor’s degree in education in 1962. Richard later earned his master’s degree from Mankato State Teachers College in Mankato, Minn. His first teaching position was in Port Huron, Mich. He taught most of his career in Austin, Minn., followed by Dallas and Carrollton, Texas. Upon retirement in 2001, he taught in Athens, Texas, as a substitute teacher. Richard was integral in the advanced learning opportunities through public education. Upon retirement in 2001, Richard received the “Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers Honorary Life Membership Award.”

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Richard is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dee Smith Gemmel of Athens; daughters, Kari Gemmel Brashears of Fate, Texas, Jennifer (Nicolas) Pizana of Royce City, Texas; grandchildren, Nathaniel Brashears, Zachary Brashears, Noea Pizana and Jaxon Pizana; mother, Milda of Austin, Minn.; brothers, David of Eagan and Michael of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

He was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth and son-in-law, Rick Brashears.

Dick was married to Dee in 1958 and celebrated 50 years together in May 2008. He has been an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Austin, Minn., and Athens, Texas. He has dedicated his life to teaching and public service, serving in various capacities within the church and community. He was a church board representative, MYF youth leader, Sunday school teacher, Parent-Teacher Association member, Henderson County Food Pantry volunteer, Meals on Wheels deliverer, Indian Maidens Tribe leader, coach and mentor. Richard left a permanent impact on his Minnesota church family by coordinating a van committee for transporting youth and seniors to Worship Service and church activities.

Richard was a cancer survivor who lived every day with purpose. He loved to share his love for Christ through teaching, discussion and example. Choosing daily to be a man dedicated to family, he never missed a recital or ball game. Those who knew Dick experienced first-hand his unique sense of humor. He shared Norwegian jokes with many; a daily “uffda!” was always in order, and came to be expected. Those who were blessed to know Dick will remember his love for sports (he was a huge Ranger’s fan), his gift for gab, his compassion and service to those less fortunate and his competitive nature when playing cards.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at First United Methodist Church, Austin, Minn. Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday evening at the Worlein Funeral Home and one hour before the service at church. Richard’s final resting place will be in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, Minn.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sandra J. Schulze American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, 411 2nd Street NW, Rochester, MN, 55901, or The First United Methodist Church in Athens, Fellowship Hall Remodeling Project or The First United Methodist Church of Austin, Van Committee. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at