Alfred “Al” Ignatius Gagne


Alfred “Al” Ignatius Gagne, 78, of Superior, died Saturday, July 11, 2020 at St. Luke’s Hospital, Duluth.

He was born November 10, 1941 in Duluth, MN, son of Irene and William Ruhnke. In 1956 the family moved to Superior.

Al graduated from Superior Central High School in 1960. He was an exceptional athlete, playing half-back on two state championship teams in 1958 and 1959. He was known for his “speed,” and also excelled in track and field.

After high school he worked on the construction of the Blatnik Bridge for several years.

In 1965, Al was a member of the Bud Somerville world championship curling team, who became the first American curlers to win the world championship in Perth, Scotland.

Al married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Caren Wright, in August of 1966.

Al graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 1967 with a B.S. degree in biology. While in college, he was a member of the Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity. He taught for one year at Duluth Central High School.

Al and Caren spent a few years in Superior before Al changed careers and started a long 33 year journey with Hoffman-LaRoche Pharmaceuticals, with stops in Madison, WI, Omaha, NE, and eventually the corporate headquarters in Nutley, New Jersey, where he rose to Vice-President of Business.

As retirement called, so did the Northland. In 2000, Al took an early retirement and was able to enjoy many years playing golf at his beloved Nemadji Golf Course, and of course rooting for his “Packers”! He was also a woodworker for many years and really developed his creativity and artistic abilities in his retirement. He first carved decoys, and then fish. Within a few years, Al was entering his beautifully carved and painted fish in the World Fish Carving Championship every year, more than once winning the blue ribbon.

The Gagne’s loved going to the gulf side of Florida for 3 months every winter, but always coming back to the “old gang” up north. Al had great fun at their cabin at Panther Lake in upstate New York with their son, John, daughter-in-law, Jenn and two granddaughters, Aiden and Ella.

Al was always ready for a challenge and loved to share a good laugh!

Preceding him in death were his parents; brothers, Walter Ruhnke and Richard Gagne; and sister, Grace Ruhnke Tyson.

Survivors include his wife, Caren; son, John; daughter-in-law, Jenn; granddaughters, Aiden and Ella, Liverpool, NY; sisters, Lea Nella Gagne Nichols, Solon Springs, WI, Peggy Gagne Krivok (Jim), Stuart, FL, Cindy Ruhnke Gant (Ernie), Perry, OH, and Debbie Ruhnke Honsey, Minot, North Dakota; as well as many nieces and nephews.

Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or the charity of your choice.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

To sign the online guest book or send condolences, visit

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