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Account: Remembering Ella
June 30, 2010

Annandale Advocate

Remembering Ella

Longtime owner of Geardink’s Resort dies at age 92

By Chuck Sterling, Editor

Friends remembered Ella Geardink last week as the hard-working longtime owner of Geardink’s Resort on Cedar Lake, who loved helping others and enjoyed sports, baking and a good laugh.  Geardink, who was honored as Wright County’s Outstanding Senior Woman in 2005, died Tuesday, June 22, two weeks short of her 93rd birthday, at Lake Ridge Care Center in Buffalo.

Geardink began working at Mears’ Resort on the north side of Cedar Lake in 1937, and met her husband, Charley there.  They were married in 1938 and in 1946 bought the property and renamed it Geardink’s Resort, which she continued to run after his death in December 1980.

“She was one of the longest running resort operators in the state, I think,” former Maple Hill Resort owner Roland “Boots” Froyen said.  “She was the prime mover in the resort” in the 1940s and ‘50s, according to Froyen, who recalled seeing Charley during that era selling real estate from his car on the Main Street in Annandale.  “Her guests adored her,” he said.  “They didn’t come to Cedar Lake and the resort because of the facilities.  They came because of Ella.”

Resort was her life

The resort was her life, Zion Lutheran Church pastor Thomas Queck, who conducted her funeral service, said.  Geardink “never wore shoes in the summertime,” he said and did much of the cleaning and cooking herself.  “She never told anyone to do something that she wouldn’t do herself.”  In her final years, the resort remained open for some longtime guests, but they took care of themselves, according to Queck and others.

She had been a church member since she came here when it was located at the Corinna Cemetery a few minutes walk from the resort, he said, and she was active until a few years ago.  Geardink was “a pioneer woman, very strong in the faith, strong in her morals.”    “I’d describe her as cheerful, always wanting to help people and a very hard worker.  There was nothing she couldn’t do.”

Renee Logeais, who nominated Geardink for the Outstanding Senior award for her volunteerism, met her in the early ‘80s when they were founding members of the Annandale Area Community Food Shelf.  “Whatever she was doing, she did it because she loved it,” Logeais said, “and she had fun when she was doing it.”  Back then the food shelf was on the second floor of the old city hall, and she recalled that Geardink would buy supplies and then “lug them up 19 steps.”  Geardink would always say she didn’t have to go to the health club because that was her winter workout.

She baked treats like rhubarb meringue tortes, cookies and pies and brought them to the food shelf “to keep the guys happy,” Logeais said, but “the women sure enjoyed them.”  And she gave them to everyone in the building.

Logeais laughed at the recollection of a senior dining beach party in the late ‘90s when Geardink “came wearing her wool bathing suit from way back when.  It was really fun,” she said.

She loved kids

“I think her true love was kids.”  For years, Geardink invited kindergarten classes to the resort where she’d take them on nature tours and help them make bird feeders.

She also loved the Maple Lake High School girls basketball team, Logeais said.  “She attended those games faithfully.”  Geardink attended hockey games with the Gieselman family for years during the time Laura Gieselman was playing and the two became close, according to Laura’s mother, Fern Gieselman.  The standout goaltender later played for the St. Cloud State University women’s team and is now married.  “When Laura got married we treated her as an honorary grandma at the wedding, Gieselman said.  She and at least three of her children worked for Geardink at the resort, she said, describing her as “genuinely caring, just very interested in people.”

Mike Aitchison said Geardink “considered herself my second mother.”  He was about 10 years old when she and Charley invited him to the resort for the first of several visits over a couple of years.  “She tried to fatten me up,” he recalled, feeding him “often and lots.”  Then she’d send him home with candy in his pockets.  “She adopted all people that seemed to be in need,” he said.  “She liked helping people.  I think she was a super woman and I’ll miss her.  The world should miss her.” 

History Club presentation by Ella Geardink in 2002: Geardink's Resort