Vernon Ray Mortensen, the son of John and Ella (Michelson) Mortensen, was born March 25, 1926 at rural Royal, Iowa. His childhood years were spent in rural Buena Vista and Clay County where he attended country schools. He attended and graduated from Royal High School in 1944. Upon graduation he immediately entered military service and was in the Army serving with the 24th Infantry Division in the Solomon Islands and the Philippine’s during WWII. Vernon received a Purple Heart after being wounded by a sniper and spending 18 months in Army and VA hospitals. Vernon was also the recipient of two Bronze Stars. He was honorably discharged in 1946 while at Percy Jones Hospital at Fort Custer in Michigan.
Vernon returned to Royal following his discharge from the hospital. He attended Iowa State University in Ames studying animal science. On August 25, 1950 he married Bonnie Jean Fairchild in Sioux Rapids. They lived on farms surrounding Royal until 1976 when they moved into Royal. Vernon farmed in the Royal area retiring from his own operation in 1991, but continued to help with spring and fall field work with others until 2007 when he was 81.
Vernon was baptized and confirmed as a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Royal where he was a member his entire life. He served on the church council at Bethlehem and worked on many improvement projects there over the years. He served as a City Council member in Royal. He was a member of the Clay County VFW No. 3159 in Royal, Iowa, the American Legion No. 0248 in Royal. Vernon was a member of the honor guard at the Memorial Day services in Royal his entire life. He truly loved spending time with his family including helping them with many home improvement projects over the years. Vernon was a big fan of baseball. He also enjoyed watching the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes. He wintered in Alamo, Texas for the last 28 years.
Vernon passed away in Alamo, Texas on March 4, 2021 at the age of 94. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Bonnie; and his brothers, Darrell and Virgil and his special friend, Helen Libbey.
Left to cherish and honor his memory are his two sons, Greg and his wife, Val Mortensen of Rochelle, Illinois, and Rollie and his wife, Donna Mortensen of Spencer, Iowa; two daughters, Diana Mortensen of Spencer and Pam and her husband, Jim Virelli of Royal; 8 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; two brothers: Duane (Audrey) of Lawrence, Kansas; Ron (Barb) of Valley, Nebraska, one sister, Peggy Miller of Alamo, Texas, many nieces and nephews; other relatives and many friends.