Gordon Fosness


June 6, 1935 - December 15, 2020


Gordon Fosness, 85, of Sioux Falls formerly of Mitchell, SD, died Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at Ava’s House in Sioux Falls. Visitation will be 10-11:00 AM Friday, December 18 at Bittner Funeral Chapel. A private family funeral service will follow at 1:00 PM at the Dakota Wesleyan University Sherman Chapel in Mitchell. A procession will begin at the campus at 2:00 PM and routed past the Corn Palace to the Graceland Cemetery for a private burial. The public is encouraged to gather by the Corn Palace to pay their respects to Coach Fosness. Arrangements by Bittner Funeral Chapel.

A live-stream of the funeral service may be viewed at: http://www.dwu.edu/live

Gordon “Gordie” Fosness was born in Presho, South Dakota on June 6, 1935 to Duff and Mae Fosness, and always referred to Presho and Lyman County as the "Holy Land".

Gordie was an outstanding athlete and enjoyed an exceptional career at Dakota Wesleyan University. He went on to coach at DWU for 22 years where his teams won 351 games, 11 conference titles and advanced to two NAIA tournaments. Gordie's career was celebrated through his induction into the DWU, South Dakota High School Basketball, NAIA, and South Dakota Halls of Fame. He also served on the national Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with the likes of Tom Landry and Tom Osborne.

Gordie's professional career included coaching at the high school and collegiate levels, development work at DWU and the State Director of the South Dakota Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His work life culminated in the unprecedented building of a FCA owned facility that generates ongoing income for the ministry to this day.

While Gordie enjoyed extensive success in his public life, he was known by those who knew him best as a man of Christ who invested in his family, friends, and former players. Gordie was fearless, especially when it came to helping those he loved through a difficult time. It would not be unusual to receive a call, note or a personal visit from Gordie if you were struggling. He was bold in his faith and relentless in his defense of those he loved. He had an ability to lift you up when you were down and remind you, through sage advice and scripture, that God loved you and he did too!

He was the proud parent to his children: Valerie (Rick) Melmer, Tonja (Jon) Lezon, Chris (Laura) Fosness, Jennifer (Shad) Spears, and Kathy Fosness. He loved and prayed for his five children, 11 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and sister, Avys Johnson. Gordie's legacy lives on through his family, friends, and the players he coached and mentored.

Gordie was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Carol.

Memorials have been established at Dakota Wesleyan University and South Dakota Fellowship of Christian Athletes.



Friday, December 18, 2020
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Bittner Funeral Chapel
805 W Havens Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Friday, December 18, 2020
1:00 PM
Private Family Service
Live-stream: http://www.dwu.edu/live


Graceland Cemetery
Mitchell, SD

Posted by John Stanley on December 30, 2020
It was my pleasure to work with Gordon from the office of the South Dakota Fellowship of Christian Athletes during the years 1989-90. We had many conversations concerning the things pertaining to the "life in Christ Jesus" Now you have the Hope of the Resurrection.
Posted by Tricia Hilton Wempe - Gordon/Carol niece on December 27, 2020
To the "Fosness 5" & family: I'm so sorry for your loss. The hurt....I know it, too well. Your dad came by The University of South Dakota one time to visit me during my undergraduate days ('97 graduate) and he spoke with me in ways I didn't expect. I don't remember exactly what he said but I do remember him encouraging me in light of of family situation and the trauma of us dealing with my mom's illness. His gift was encouragement. I was a recipient of this too. May God Bless each one of you as your learn to cope with his loss. In Jesus Name: Tricia
Posted by Tom & Janet McNary on December 24, 2020
Chris, Laura and family. Sorry to hear about Gordie. One of the best.
Posted by Bart Friedrick on December 21, 2020
Chris and the Fosness family, my sympathies on the loss of your dad. May God bless
Posted by Glen Wessel on December 19, 2020
I just heard on Gordon moving on to meet His Master. Jesus. He was Great friend ..So many hours together. Has a strong witness, for. Christ..He let everyone know it too. Loved that. Guy. Greatly. Pastor. Glen

Posted by Denise Whitman on December 19, 2020
My late husband, Dick Whitman, graduated from DWU in 1961. Treasured memories of Dakota Wesleyan events sustain me. May the Lord Hold you all in the Palm of His Hand during this time of great loss. Sincere sympathy and Prayers.
Posted by Judy Sample on December 19, 2020
No other couple influenced Sam and me more than Carol and Gordon Fosness!!! Christ in us our ONLY hope of GLORY!!!! I praise JESUS for them and their children and their Inflece in our lives! Judy Sample 🙏🙏
Posted by Dennis Van Denbos on December 19, 2020
Interesting to me how 4 years at DWU played such a significant role in the rest of my life. Of course, largely due to the influence and inspiration of Coach Fosness. Thanks Coach.
Posted by Sam Sample on December 19, 2020
Ecclesiastes 3:4 "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" My best friend and brother I am mourning now because you not here to talk to, but most importantly I rejoice that you are with Jesus! I look forward to that greatest of reunion. In 1968 you led me to having a personal relationship with the Lord through the FCA. Many, many GREAT memories. I love you dear brother!!!!!!!
Posted by Sam Sample on December 18, 2020
Ecclesiastes 3:4 "a time to weep and a a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" Gordon I am weeping now,but rejoicing your greatest victory (being with Jesus) you led me to my greatest relationship ln knowing Jesus personally. You are my brother now and forever! I am looking forward to our great reunion of being together again!!!!! In the mean time I am going to miss you. Your brother
Posted by Brad and Connie Tucker on December 18, 2020
Coach Fosness was an amazing man - a testament to his love for our Lord and a disciple to many young athletes as they developed from boys to men, both in sports and in life. His guidance and support was instrumental in our lives and we are so blessed in having known him. Thank you for sharing him with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with you - hold close to your memories and one another.
Posted by Jerry "Andy" Anderson on December 18, 2020
Coach Fosness was bigger than life! He influenced me playing for him at DWU and still influences me to this day. Prayers to his family and friends. He will be missed!!
Posted by Conda De Vries on December 18, 2020
Thank you so much for letting non-athletes, like myself, join FCA at DWU. It was neat to be around other Christians my age for the first time. I appreciate you and Carol taking us under your wings. Even years later, it was fun to visit with you and be encouraged by you. I appreciate your love for Jesus. Now you are in heaven with Him and Carol. See you when it's my time to go. Hugs and love to you! May God surround your family with His love and comfort during this very difficult time.
Posted by Kevin Culhane on December 18, 2020
A Giant among men, who changed SO many people's lives by how he lived his own and his witness to our Lord. My prayers go out to the entire Fosness family..We are all better people for knowing Gordon Fosness. Thank you for the memories Coach!
Posted by Jim and Nancy Martin on December 18, 2020
We have wonderful memories of Gordy and Carol. We celebrate that they are now together. Our sincere sympathies to Val, Tonja, Jennifer, Kathy, Chris and families.
Posted by Renee Lester Haliburton on December 18, 2020
My freshman year of college, Gordie taught me that if I wake up early to spend time with God, He will give me the energy that I need to get through the day. I have never forgotten those wise words. I’m sure that God spoke through Gordie to reach many people. My prayers are with all those who loved him.
Posted by Dan Duffy on December 17, 2020
One of the finest men I've ever known.
Posted by Tom and Sheryl Miller on December 17, 2020
Coach, thanks for all the fond memories. With love and respect.
Posted by Conrad meier on December 17, 2020
Hmmm words😇 one that described him to me PASSIONATE! Get to see him again thanks Chris for time on the phone
Posted by Ron Orosz on December 17, 2020
It was an honor to have met such a wonderful man. It was fun to talk about the old times and reminisce of much simpler times. When men were there to teach their family about respect and honor. I met Gordon through his daughter and granddaughter Kathy and Kamble who became part of our family through the friendship of neighbors. My loving thoughts and prayers will always be with him and his family.love Ron Orosz.
Posted by Gary Ebel on December 17, 2020
He taught me great lessons about life and love of Christ in our many conversations. One of the greatest moments in my life was when he called to recruit me to play ball at DWU. You will be missed COACH!! Peace to your family!!
Posted by Wayne, Janet, Julie Klinger on December 17, 2020
Wonderful memories of our families together at 4 FCA national conferences in Estes Park, Co. He had a great influence on my life and our family. Other daughters Sherri and Terri. God Bless the Fosness family,
Posted by Harriet J VanDenbos on December 16, 2020
I babysat for the Fosness family in the 1960s while a nursing student at Methodist School of Nursing. The whole family was lovely & Gordie remained my favorite dad of those years.
Posted by Marv Lovro on December 16, 2020
A Great Friend and wonderful family. Gordy will be missed by all. Prayers to his family
Posted by Don Krull on December 16, 2020
Thanks for all the great memories Coach!
Posted by Tom Mackey on December 16, 2020
Coach Fosness. had such a positive influence on so many people, the memories will last forever.
Posted by Barbara Mach on December 16, 2020
So many memories from the Dakota Wesleyan days!
Posted by David Bambas on December 16, 2020
Great memories of FCA road trips, plenty of pie, and great conversations about Jesus. Thank you Gordie!
Posted by Doug Adams on December 15, 2020
Praising God for Gordie’s witness for Christ. He will be truly missed
I love ya brother.
Posted by Ed and Linda Melcher on December 15, 2020
Today is a sad day. We have many fond memories of Coach Fosness; So sorry for your loss.
Posted by Carroll & Sandra Twedt on December 15, 2020
So sorry for your loss. You have our deepest sympathy.
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