January 13, 1935 – May 2, 2021
Arnie Gaarde, husband, dad, gampa, coach, golfer and friend, passed away on May 2nd in Peoria, Arizona. Born in Armstrong, Iowa, and loyal supporter of alma mater Iowa State University, he really enjoyed growing up and raising his family in the state.
While majoring in Mathematics, Arnie lettered in both baseball and basketball at ISU and met his future wife on a blind date. They were married six months later.
After serving in the Air Force, Arnie began his coaching and teaching career at the high school level, to include Grundy Center, Atlantic and Cedar Rapids. His opportunity to coach at the collegiate level happened when ISU came calling and he was excited to be “home” again. As his career path transitioned to working for Iowa State Alumni Affairs and then into the insurance business, he continued to be an avid supporter of the college’s football and basketball programs. Arnie became the first president of the ISU Letterwinners Club, the organization that supports student athletes to excel while in school and life after college.
Retiring to Arizona offered Arnie the time to follow his passion of golf. He often called it his “work,” yet the best parts of this job were the skins competition, laughter, and comradery he shared with so many friends. Arnie had many, many friends, and he was loved and admired by all.
His proudest achievements were his roles as father to three girls, grandfather to five girls, and husband to Bonnie. As he said often, Bonnie was the love of his life. They enjoyed dancing, traveling, and entertaining friends. Daughters Stephanie, Lisa and Michele adored him, his big hugs, his kindness, and his encouragement in all that they pursued.
His granddaughters, Kasey, Ryan, Elle, Kellsey and Ashlee, brought him the most joy. He instilled his love of athletics in them while shooting hoops, sailing on Spirit Lake and teaching them golf skills and etiquette. They had so much fun when he shared family stories and silly jokes. And they knew he always believed in them as they progressed through school and into the working world. Arnie definitely loved having all girls, but he welcomed Jerry, Dennis and Robert, his sons-in-law, and Ryan’s husband Baily, into the Gaarde family.
Arnie was excited to have TJ Otzelberger on board, anticipating he’ll do great things for the Cyclone basketball program. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation, in his memory, to the ISU Letterwinners Club at www.foundation.iastate.edu/gaarde to the Men’s Basketball Support Fund. “Once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone.”
Family and friends are invited to Arnie’s service on Saturday, May 8th at 1pm at American Lutheran Church in Sun City, with Rev. Lowell Nelson officiating. A celebration of his life will be held in Ames, Iowa this summer.
Arnie’s parents were Arnold and Emma Gaarde. He is survived by sisters and Cheryl Opsal of Mankato, Minnesota Paula (John) Dyer of Algona, Iowa.