Services for Melvin Ray Churness

Melvin Ray Churness, 85, of Clearbrook, MN, died on Monday, June 4, 2018 at his home surrounded by his loving family.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Clearbrook, MN. Visitation will be one hour prior to the services at the church. Interment will be at Clearwater Cemetery in Clearbrook, MN with Military Honors accorded by Melvin Johnson American Legion Post #256. The Cease Family Funeral Home of Bagley assisted the family with arrangements.

He was born on March 25, 1933 to Sidney and Alma (Jacobson) Churness in rural Clearbrook, Minnesota. He was united in marriage to Lilah Gladys Nelson on April 5, 1952 in Bagley, MN. He served in the United States Army from 1954 to 1956, where he was stationed in Camden, NJ. After his service, Melvin worked on the Iron Range in Chisholm, MN for a time before coming back home to Clearbrook to be a dairy and wild rice farmer. He went on to own and operate Churness Farm Service in Clearbrook where he retired from in 1984 at 50 years old.

Melvin taught himself how to play guitar in his 20s and continued to play into his 80s. He was the lead guitar player in his band “Stardust”. He enjoyed fishing and hunting. He had a second career in woodworking, specializing in Red Oak trunks that he and Lilah sold at craft fairs and flea markets. Melvin made over 600 of his beautiful trunks over the years. He was a member of the Clearbrook Legion and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Throughout the years, Lilah and Melvin traveled extensively. They went many places, including, Alaska, Canada, and the American South West. They made many friends along the highway. Together they enjoyed spending winters in Yuma, AZ for many years. Melvin loved having Fish Frys with his family and sharing his humor with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lilah Churness; his children, Diane Langseth of Leonard, MN, David (Terri) Churness of Clearbrook, MN, Darlene (Steve) Bergman of Clearbrook, MN, Debbie (Roger) Opdahl of Brooks, MN, Danny (Cheryl) Churness of Clearbrook, MN, and Donna (Mike) Gifford of Wawatosa, WI; 12 grandchildren; 13 great grandchildren; his sisters, Betty (Donnie) Sorenson, Ardella (Marvin) Lindberg, and Karen (Vern) Vogh; and many other loved family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Sidney and Alma Churness; and his siblings, Elnora Baanrud, Harvey Churness, Viola Anderson, Alberta Bergland, and Ruth Hanson.

Messages of condolence may be sent to


Richards Publishing

P.O. Box 159
239 2nd Ave
Gonvick, MN 56644
Telephone: (218) 487-5225

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