Weather Forecast


Gary B. Root

BACKUS — Gary B. Root, age 71, of Backus, died on April 7, 2011, at the Cuyuna Regional Care Center in Crosby.

He was born on April 4, 1940, to Lloyd E. and Pauline V. (Tully) Root in Crosby. Gary graduated from the Crosby-Ironton High School. He was a member of the National Honor Society. He received a full scholarship from the U.S. Navy and attended the University of Minnesota. He began working at the age of 15 as a clerk for the Northern Pacific and Soo Line Railroad. He was appointed manager of Unit Coal Train Operations for Burlington Northern Railroad, then became Director of Transportation for Amax Coal Company in Indianapolis, Ind., and later appointed Director of Domestic Marketing and Transportation. He was elected vice-president of marketing for Island Creek Coal Company in Lexington, Ky., then vice president of marketing and transportation. He left Island Creek to become executive vice-president of COMCO of America in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was appointed executive vice-president of Operations for MEMCO Barge Lines headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. He returned to Crosby in 1990 and purchased the former Skogmo Department Store. He moved to Phoenix until 2005 when he retired and moved to Backus, Minn. Gary was active in many corporate, civic and fraternal organizations; he was director of the Western Coal Transportation Association, director of the U.S. Inland Waterways Operators and a member of the Coal Exporters Association. Upon his return to Crosby, he joined the Cuyuna Range Lions and was elected president. He received both Lion of the Year and distinguished service awards. He served on the board at the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center. He was president of the Cuyuna Range Tourism Committee and president of the Chamber of Commerce. He served on the board of the Pine River Group Home, SLC. He was named volunteer of the year at the Margaret Welch Memorial Library in Longville.

Survivors include his life partner, Susan Longstaff; brothers, Lloyd Jr. and James; sister, Dianne (Wally) Wentz; son, David and daughter, Pamela; two aunts, Peggy Laurian and Donna Root.

Preceding him in death are his parents; brother, Robert; and sister, Mary Lou.

Memorial services will be held on 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Crosby. Friends may call one hour prior to the services at the church on Thursday. Arrangements are with the Koop Funeral Home in Crosby.