Eugene ‘Gene’ F. Mikolai

BLUE EARTH – Services for Eugene F. Mikolai, 88, of Blue Earth, will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday April 9, 2014, at SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth. Burial with full military honors will be following the funeral at Calvary Cemetery, Blue Earth. Visitation will be Tuesday evening, 5-8 p.m. at Patton Funeral Home in Blue Earth and the hour prior to services at the church on Wednesday. Gene died late Friday, April 4, at United Hospital in Blue Earth. To leave online condolences or to sign the guest book for his family go to

Eugene Mikolai was born April 15, 1925, the youngest of 11 children born to Mary and Joseph Mikolai, who farmed near East Chain, Minn. He attended East Chain country school through the eighth grade, then later obtained his GED.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in September of 1943 and served on the USS Saratoga in WWII, mainly in the Pacific Rim through 1946. His ship was involved in three major battles for which they earned three bronze stars: Eniwetok (Marshall Islands), Sabang (Indian Ocean), and Iwo Jima.

Gene attended Mankato State (Teacher’s College) and graduated in 1949 with a business degree. He then attended the University of Minnesota School of Agriculture and earned a degree in agriculture in 1952. He worked for Doane Agriculture in Oregon, Ill., until 1956, when he bought his mother’s Blue Earth farm and took up farming. He became a licensed and bonded auctioneer and dabbled in auctioneering.

He married Marvis Erickson, daughter of Rena and Alvin Erickson of Blue Earth, Feb. 16, 1957, at SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. They raised six children on the farm until her death in 1969.

Aug. 6, 1983, he married Lee Knopik of Belfield, N.D. They had another son and continued to live on the Blue Earth farm raising hogs and later, sheep. He had a love of animals and held a strong stewardship of the land.

Gene was an active member in the VFW and the Knights of Columbus, also the American Legion, where he served as past commander and participated in the Honor Guard. He was a staunch Republican, active in local politics. Gene was a devout Catholic and long-time member of SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, where he served as president of the school board. He was a Blue Earth Township board member.

He is survived by his wife, Lee, and daughter Gina Zierke of Blue Earth, daughters Pat Riester of Rochester, Judi Mikolai (Jon Ridge) of New Brighton, Maria (Roy) Tuff of Punta Gorda, Fla., Teri Shirley of Chula Vista, CA, and son Joe of Columbia, S.C., plus 10 grandchildren.

He is survived by one sister, Evelyn of Minneapolis, and preceded in death by first wife, Marvis, 10 brothers and sisters, and son, Mitch.