Earl John Proulx, 93, passed away peacefully on Sunday morning, September 17, 2023, at his Crookston home surrounded by loved ones. Earl was born on July 1, 1930, at home to Emery and Frances (Verbout) Proulx. He was the third of 11 children who were raised in Argyle, Minnesota. He attended a one room schoolhouse with his siblings, often picking up neighbor children in their horse drawn wagon on the way to school. In 8th grade Earl’s family moved to Wylie, Minnesota and Earl began attending the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston MN. Earl was quarterback for the Aggie football team while in high school and as captain during his senior year led them to an undefeated season- something he was extremely proud of.
After graduation Earl moved to East Grand Forks where he worked as a cab driver and hauled gravel for a few years. During these years Earl sold his Model T which he loved in order to purchase a trailer with pals for housing. He then began doing road construction with the Robert Zavoral Company and farming part time.
One evening, a friend of Earl's asked him to pick up his date because he was running late. Earl said yes- only to meet Peggy who became the love of his life, and six months later they were married on November 28, 1950, in Sacred Heart Catholic Church in East Grand Forks MN. Earl and Peggy had eight children between 1951-1960 and enjoyed 71 years of marriage.
In 1964 Earl decided to farm full time and purchased farmland from his father. At this time, he and Peggy also physically moved their home from East Grand Forks to Crookston, MN. A small barn was added to the property and soon it was filled with chickens, cows, and pigs. The eight children all have fond memories of chasing pigs who escaped their pen and processing at least 150 chickens in the spring to feed the family throughout the year. Milking the one dairy cow was a challenge for them when their dad was busy in the fields, so he even bought a milking machine for one cow!! Earl loved farming, it was always a joy to work his land, and was never just a job as he created quite a legacy, built on a dream and hard work. After 43 years of farming his own land, Earl retired at age 77.
After retirement, Earl and Peggy enjoyed traveling. They visited the Rockies, Graceland, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Alaska, Ireland and New York City where they enjoyed a Broadway show.
Earl was a devout Catholic and supported the Church throughout the years, including contributing to the restoration of St. Peters Catholic Church in Gentilly, MN. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus while living in East Grand Forks MN. Earl was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #873 in Crookston.
Earl had a deep love for his family. Even though he worked long hours, he reserved Sunday just for them. Whether it was playing football in the yard, visiting the multitude of aunts, uncles, and cousins, or going to Polk County Park in the summer- fun was had by all. In the 70’s Earl and Peggy purchased a lake home, and it became a gathering place for family and friends throughout the years. Most weekends there were about 30 people gathered to enjoy skiing, tubing, swimming, pig roasts, and celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.
He enjoyed time with his grandchildren proudly showing them the intricacies of farming, watching and talking football, deer hunting and processing, and even holding a treasure hunt at Maple Lake. Earl and others drew out a treasure map, signed it in blood, and dropped it in the lake inside a bottle. Once the grandchildren found it, they all followed the map to discover a chest buried in the lake that was full of coins and jewels for all. Needless to say, the kids were in awe and for years to come believed pirates really left that treasure.
Earl’s love for his family also extended to others. He was always ready to listen, offer advice, and lend a hand. In their children’s younger years, it was not unusual for him and Margaret to invite homeless people riding the train behind their house or hitchhiking, to come in for a hearty breakfast or sandwich before continuing their journey.
Earl enjoyed snowmobiling and for several years raced in local events, often coming in first or second. He was always working to make his machine go faster. He loved spearing for fish in the winter and spent many hours seeking the “Big One’. He found 3 in fact which are on display in his homes in Crookston and at the lake. He was always eager to show off his success and skills.
Earl will be remembered as a self-made man, a good man with a booming voice, large presence and heart of gold. The legacy he left was teaching his kids to live a good life, stay true to their morals, assist others, keep the faith, play hard, know the importance of family, and give back. He said he hoped they would find careers they loved, because that meant work really wouldn’t feel like working. Growing up, dad made them all feel safe and that he could make everything better. Some of his grandchildren even thought he could lift a car and that his grain fields looked like a golden ocean swaying in the wind. “He had given all of us the greatest gift anyone could give another—he loved us and believed in us unconditionally. He was our hero”.
Earl is lovingly survived by his 8 children: Karen (Dwight) Hanson of Mentor MN; Kathy (Paul) Proulx-Hendrickson of Anchorage AK; Terry (Jim) Clauson of Crookston MN; Bob (Jenny) Proulx and John (Janice) Proulx of Red Lake Falls MN, Ron (Arlis) Proulx of East Grand Forks MN; and Elaine (Randy) Fetsch and Arlene (Steve) Johnson of Grand Forks ND; 34 grandchildren; 51 great grandchildren; 4 great- great-grandchildren; and 3 brothers: Edward R. (Charlotte) Proulx of Apache Junction AZ; Daniel Proulx of Houston TX; and George (Diane) Proulx of Red Lake Falls MN; and many nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.
Earl was proceeded in death by Peggy his beloved wife of 71 years; parents, Emery and Frances Proulx; 3 brothers: Paul, Noel, and Edward L.; 4 sisters: Priscilla Helgeson, Joan Proulx, Alma Ferris, and Marie Chaput; grandson, Scott Proulx; and other family members. May God richly bless the memory of Earl John Proulx.
The family would like to thank all the care givers who took such wonderful care of our father. He thoroughly enjoyed your company. We would also like to thank Hospice of the Red River Valley for their support and care.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Earl Proulx will be held at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 4, 2023, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, MN, with Msgr. David Baumgartner, presiding. The visitation will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Mass will be livestreamed by going to www.crookstoncathedral.com or Earl’s obituary page at www.stenshoelhouske.com and clicking on the prompt to view. Burial will take place in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Gentilly, MN following a lunch and reception at the Cathedral. Messages of condolence may be offered to the Family on the funeral home website as well.