Howard Daniel Underwood, 85, Mesa, Ariz.

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Howard Daniel Underwood, 85, of Mesa, Ariz., formerly of Blooming Prairie, Minn., died Friday, July 26, at Copper Cottage Hospice in Mesa.

Howard Underwood

Howard Underwood

Howard was born on Aug. 2, 1927, at a farmhouse near Blooming Prairie, the first of five children born to Gerald and Borghild (Trom) Underwood of Irish and Norwegian descent, respectively. Howard attended a one-room schoolhouse where he excelled as a student, especially in math and reading. He attended Blooming Prairie High School and subsequently joined the U.S. Navy in 1943. He was assigned to a troop transport ship named USS Goodhue, after a county in Minnesota. The ship was hit by a Japanese Kamikazi plane during the invasion of Okinawa. More than 20 sailors and 120 soldiers were killed. The crew celebrated V.E (Victory in Europe) day in San Francisco.

On Sept. 2, 1945, Howard was privileged to take Japanese dignitaries out to the battleship Missouri for the surrender ceremonies where he watched the peace treaty being signed by General MacArthur and the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mamoru Shegemitsu. As part of his Navy service he was assigned to rescue duty on the Aleutian Islands Chain in Alaska. After discharge from the Navy, Howard enrolled in college in Kansas City, Mo. To earn some extra cash, Howard joined the Army Reserve. The Korean conflict broke out and Howard was called back into service for his country and spent another three years with the U.S. Army. Following discharge, Howard returned to farming. He ultimately became a rural mail carrier. In 1954 Howard married Veronica Kvasnicka. Seven children were born to this union.

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In August 1999, Howard Underwood and Charlotte Gast were married in Colorado Springs, Colo. The couple moved from Colorado to Mesa, where the Underwoods resided in Red Mountain Ranch. They have lived an active lifestyle, participating in numerous groups including Victory Lutheran Church and Red Mountain Ranch Social Club.

Howard was gifted by God with a unique sense of humor, a love and aptitude for gardening and an ability to assess a problem and fix it. Howard felt that one of the benefits of the years he spent serving his country was the eligibility to join service-related groups. He served as Post Commander of the American Legion and also Minnesota statewide membership director, where he forged and cherished lifelong friendships.

Survivors include his children Dan (Nan) McGuiness of St. Paul, Minn., Mary Kay Underwood (Ben Henderson), Laurie Bienko and Joan Underwood all of Boone, N.C., Patrick (Mary Beth) Underwood and Kathy (Dick) Goodman of Rochester, Minn., Jack (Kim) Underwood of Austin, Minn.; 13 grandchildren; two sisters, Audrey Bryngelson and Geraldine Vaith; one brother, Dale Underwood. Charlotte’s children who survive are Bonnie (Jim) Lippold of Union, Ore., Bill Gast of Colorado Springs, Gerhardt Gast of Austin, Texas, and Rebecca Mease (Van Edward) of Leavenworth, Kan.; six grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents Gerald and Borghild Underwood, sister Virginia, and son Michael.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, at the Worlein Blooming Prairie Funeral Home. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 13 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Worlein Blooming Prairie Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service on Wednesday. Interment will be held in St. Columbanus Cemetery. Military rites will be by American Legion Post 52 and VFW Post 878. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at