Vernon J. Gravning, 92

Vernon J. Gravning, 92, of Polson, Mont., died Sunday, May 15, 2016, at Polson Health and Rehabilitation Center. Vernon was born on Jan. 29, 1924, to Jennings and Lillie (Ringsaker) Gravning in Alexander, N.D.

Vernon Gravning
Vernon Gravning

At 16 months of age he lost his mother and newborn sister and was raised by his paternal grandparents Carl and Gina Gravning on the family homestead 30 miles north of Hettinger.

Growing up in the midst of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, he remembered dirt drifting like snow.

His father remarried and Vernon went to live with them in Deadwood, S.D., where he attended and graduated from high school in June 1942.

He enlisted in Sept. 1942 in Denver, Colo., and started flight school in December. He advanced quickly in his training and served as an advanced instrument flight instructor until 1946 when he was put on inactive reserve status.

Recalled in 1951 to active duty, he flew 100 combat missions against North Korea earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and nine air medals.

Discharged from the military in 1956, he went to work for the FAA as an air traffic controller for the next 21 years in Sacramento, Calif.

After retiring from the FAA, he worked for large truck and auto dealerships delivering vehicles for another 27 years.

His favorite pastime was camping and trout fishing in the mountains, and that’s where he could be found on his days off during the summer months.

Vernon is survived by his wife of 64 years, Ellen Gravning, of Polson, Mont., and his sons Jon (Jean) of Polson, Mont., and James (Kirsten) of Seattle.

He was preceded in death by his mother Lillie and newborn sister, father Jennings, and half-sister Eleanor.

Vernon requested no services to take place. Memories and condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements are under the direction of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.