'I just decided when I went, I went': Perham's Erv Post lived unique life, died with a smile
Dying isn't a topic most people are willing to talk about. It's usually the elephant in the room everyone tries to ignore no matter how blatantly death is staring them in the face. But Erv Post wasn't like most people.
"The thing about it that's nice, sure, I can look back and say I did this and that, but my friends are coming and talking to me about what my friendship meant to them, and it's a blessing to go like this. It's a blessing. It really is. I'm real happy to have this," Post said, during an interview last week reflecting on his life. He passed away shortly after the interview.
Not everyone can have that healthy of an attitude when faced with their own mortality. When asked what helped him have that perspective when faced with such a short time left, he didn't hesitate in the slightest. He leaned up on his elbow and said, "You really want to know? The time that I was in the service. I realized that someday I was going to go out, and I just decided when I went, I went. All young men should have that opportunity to go in the service."
Post credits his time in the U.S. Navy with helping him get his head on straight. He said he had a bit of a cavalier attitude going into the service, and he hoped his story might help a young man get a good start in life.
Post understood his wife, Elrene, and the rest of his family may not have shared his same view on the end, but he had words of wisdom for them.
"I tell them, 'Don't cry for me, cry for the next guy,'" he said, with a smile coming out from under the bushy, salt and pepper mustache.
The adventure of his life
Post was born Erwin Hubert Post on September 4,1938, at St. James hospital in Perham, to Al and Marie Post. He was the oldest of five children and raised on a farm in Otter tail County. After graduating from Parkers Prairie High school, he joined the U.S. Navy.
Post said his dad didn't want him to leave because he needed him at home, but he felt like it was something he needed to do. Maybe it was just for the adventure.
"Or, I was just a stubborn German," he said with a chuckle. Post served in the military from 1956 to 1965. His adventure while in the Navy was as a Frogman, the predecessor to what is now the U.S. Navy SEALs.
He spent some time in the Formosa straits and participated in the recovery of the Gemini 4 astronauts on July 7, 1965.
"We only spent about three hours with them. Then they hauled us into Mayport, we off loaded, shook hands and that's it," Post stated rather nonchalantly for being a part of something significant in our nation's history.
The mission of astronauts Edward H. White II and James A. McDivitt was to evaluate and test the effects of four days in space on the crew, equipment and control systems. White successfully accomplished the first U.S. spacewalk during the Gemini IV mission.
Post served 10 years in the Navy, came home, and he was going to go back, but life happened.
"I met this lady," he said smiling, "and she changed my life around. So, I didn't go back."
Mildred Bushaw was the lady who changed his life, and on April 16, 1966, they were married. Erv and Mildred had two children together, Mike and Dan. Mildred passed away eight years later.
Erv said through that whole process he started up a machine shop, and he sold that. He also helped a guy start a company making auto parts, and after Millie died he bought a beer joint south of Clitherall and turned it into a supper club. He eventually sold that and moved to Oregon.
In 1986, he married Elrene Henson. Elrene laughed when she recalled some of their adventures together, such as keeping skunks away with her shotgun while they were in Oregon.
"We did things some other folks might not have tried," she said smiling. There's a lot of smiling between these two when they are telling stories—and there are lots of them.
While out in Oregon, Post went to master gardener school and started a fabrication shop. Somewhere along the way, there was a law class or two.
He had a lot of interests in a lot of different things, and he believed in living life to the fullest.
"If you have something you think you should know, go out and learn it," he said.
Then there were the things he did just because. "The last 5-7 years, I came back to working at Lunds. After that, I was a taxi cab driver just for something to do. Just to say I did it."
His other activities included being a Richville council member for 10 years and commander of the VFW in Perham.
But, according to Erv, what made him tick was getting up and doing something for somebody.
"I enjoyed helping people in the neighborhood, never thinking that someday I would get old and be the one needing help," he said with a chuckle. "I never realized how much something as simple as changing a light bulb meant to some of them. Well I found out it really does."
Post said his mindset on life was to not to look down, but to look up.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, December 9, at 1:30 p.m. at the Karvonen Funeral and Cremation Service in Wadena.