Arnold Vernon Felton, a lifetime resident of Randolph Township, arrived in this world on September 16, 1926, to Ella (Bachman) and William Felton on a farm ½ mile north of Randolph.
Dad passed away peacefully at his home in Cannon Rivers Senior Campus on Sunday, November 27th, 2022.
He was baptized within the home community Peace Lutheran Church for the Randolph area and in his early years he attended Sunday school at the only church in Randolph at the time, Randolph Baptist.
Arnold, the third in line of six siblings, attended the Randolph School until his senior year when he quit to help his father on the farm. 77 years later, Arnie received his Honorary Degree of graduation from Randolph High School in 2021.
When he wasn’t working, he loved to roller skate and met the love of his life, Mervyne Bonhus at the skating rink above Lee’s Chevrolet. She had her eye on Arnie and asked him to skate first. This was the beginning of a 63-year marriage and the beginning of Arnie’s life. Arnie & Mervyne exchanged marriage vows at Holden Lutheran Church in rural Kenyon, MN on September 21, 1945. After 63 years, they truly shared the good times and the bad, the better and the worse, and in sickness and in health. Best friends, lovers, best buddies, parents, working business partners, traveling pals; everything they did – they did together.
Arnold was a third-generation farmer of his family in the Randolph Township who lived within 2 miles of where he was born his entire life. Arnie did custom farming work in the Randolph/Cannon Falls area; and purchased the first diesel tractor in the community, a Farmall 1950 MD. With Mervyne they bought one of the Miller farms in the sand flats northeast of Randolph where they farmed 320 acres their entire lives in rural Randolph, on Felton Avenue, (coincidentally named after Arnie & Mervyne) until moving to Lake Byllesby in 1976.
A hard-working man, in his lifetime, he saw and experienced…
Working and farming with teams of horses – to computerized agricultural equipment.
Horses to Model-Ts to his 4-wheel drive diesel Chevy pickup.
Chopping wood for wood stoves to microwaves.
Water from a hand pump to an irrigation well that pumped 1,000 gallons a minute from a 300’+ deep well.
Working long days and nights under the moon – to watching a man land on the moon.
Because he couldn’t afford dental care to having dental implants that cost $2,000 per implant.
From no money to a line of credit, credit cards and a 29-year member on the First National Bank Board (now Merchants Bank.)
Dad was a member of the Randolph Fire Department and was one of several who signed a loan to purchase a 1959 John Bean Hi-Pressure Fire truck.
Tough times with no rain for their crops that in 1965 they had to make a decision – either quit or do something drastic. In 1967 Arnold was the first person in Dakota County and surrounding counties to install a self-propelled center pivot irrigation system – which changed their lives. This decision made a significant difference in preserving the future of agriculture in this area. It also paved the way for agriculture in this region confirming to others that farming on light ground - you could flourish with irrigation. Mom & Dad were known as “The Rainmakers”.
Arnold won many corn contests and received numerous awards for high yields within Minnesota with Northrup King, DeKalb, Trojan, and the National Corn Growers Association. He was a member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association as their President and then Vice President in the 1970’s. He helped establish the Minnesota Irrigators Association in 1974 and was their first president. Arnold & Mervyne’s farm was toured by scientists, agronomists, U of M Agriculture and dignitaries from all over the world to see and learn about the value of irrigation.
Arnold was on the Board of Directors for First National Bank (now Merchants) when he retired at the age of 80. He was elected to the Randolph School Board in 1960 with the most write-in votes.
Arnold was a Treasurer on the Randolph School Board for 12 years, 1960-1972 and handed his three children their high school diplomas on their graduation day. Arnold was chosen by his peers in 1970 to be the Representative from the Randolph School District to charter the now Dakota Country Technical College in Rosemount. By invitation, a participant on a long-term Dakota Country Metro Task Force on behalf of agriculture.
A lifetime member of St. Mark’s Lutheran in Randolph, he held positions as Trustee, the Building Committee and served on the Lutheran Brotherhood.
Arnie and Mervyne enjoyed traveling in their motor home. They were in every state (except for 7) in the continental U.S. They went on an Alaskan cruise, traveled to Hawaii, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, El Salvador and the Canadian Providences. Arnie loved traveling with Mervyne, cooking for his family and friends, fishing, and spending time at their lake home. Other than traveling, he didn’t have a hobby – but he loved to eat!
Dad loved his family and was very proud of every one! Arnold is survived by daughter, Dorry (Jeffrey) Wallof of Cannon Falls and son Denny (Sherry) Felton of Dallas Center, Iowa. Denny’s family: Sarah (Matt) Wachowski and Alena and Blake; Mitchell (Shawna) Felton and Anthony; Jody (Scott) Vandever, Jackson, Max, and Sydney (Sam) McLeran, and Rich Halliburton. Doug’s family: Christopher (Julie) Felton; Grandchildren: Shelby (Andrew) Kuhn and Layla, Hadley and Walker; Emma (Matt) Semaan, Lily, Roar, Harley and Fred Felton. Chadwick (Laurie) Felton; Cassondra (Travis) Tufty, Dallas, William & Charlie Tufty; Miranda Felton and Bryson Felton. Sisters, Audrey McKeag and Arlene Ringeisen, and their families.
Arnold is preceded in death by his loving wife of 63 years, Mervyne, who passed on September 1, 2008; son Douglas Arnold (Jan. 2022), parents Ella and William, brothers Elmer and Harold Felton, and sister Yvonne Montgomery.
Funeral service was held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Randolph on Saturday, December 3 at 1:00 pm, with visitation from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Following a meal, interment took place at Lakeside Cemetery, Randolph. The service was livestreamed.
Active pallbearers were Mitchell, Anthony, Christopher, Chadwick, Bryson, Roar, Harley and Frederick Felton. Honorary pallbearers were all of Arnie’s grandchildren, and the Randolph/Hampton Fire Department.
Sincere thanks to Cannon Rivers Senior Campus Staff, Moments Hospice staff, and Lundberg Funeral Home for their love and care of our Dad.
Cards may be sent to 7505 – 295th St. E. Cannon Falls, MN 55009.