Craig E. Wilke, May 17, 1935 • September 9, 2022

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Craig Eugene Wilke, 87 of Park Rapids, Minnesota (formerly of Murdock) died unexpectedly September 9, 2022.

A private family burial will be at the Arago-Clover Evergreen Cemetery North of Park Rapids. A Celebration of life will be at the Itasca State Park Picnic Shelter, 15753 Brower Loop,  Wed., September 14 from 3-7 p.m.  

Craig was born May 17, 1935 in Benson and grew up on a farm south of Murdock. He was the son of Boyd and Gladys (Bosch) Wilke. He survived rheumatic fever as a child. During high school he played football and baseball and graduated from Murdock High School (Fighting Irish).   

He served in the US Army as a photographer and a sonar operator in Germany.    

In 1975, he married Cheryle (Refsland) and they enjoyed 47 years together. Through this union Craig gained a son, Patrick and in 1976 their daughter Teresa was born. 

Craig farmed with his brother, Donald. In the early years, they raised cattle with the Flying W Ranch brand. He taught his son to farm and love the land. They continued to raise grains until his first “retirement” in 1994.  

He and Cheryle moved to Park Rapids where they built Flying W Gardens. He worked alongside his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids until he passed.   

While still farming and living near Murdock, Craig would fly a small plane (Musketeer) to their family cabin and would land on the runway where the Flying W Nursery stands today. He was also a member of the Flying Farmers.   

For many years, he served on the Calvary Lutheran Church Board in Murdock. He groomed hundreds of miles on the trails around Park Rapids for the Forest Rider Snowmobile Club and was active with the Forest Riders ATV Club.  

Craig was the most kind, caring genuine person and would always have time to talk with you. He would help anyone that he could. He loved to hunt and fish. He enjoyed his fall deer hunting time and summer fishing trips with the Bosch family. He is known to have made a handmade water ski disk to enjoy at Little Mantrap Lake and skied right up until 2020. He was also a jokester and loved to give a good teasing to those he knew well.   

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, Donald and Darold, his sister and brother in law Wanda and Arlo and infant sister Barbara Ann. Also preceding him in death were his mother and father-in-law, Lois and Gordon Refsland, his niece Kimberly (Wilke) Braaten, and nephew Jeff Williams. As well as many other relatives, friends, and neighbors.   

He is survived by his wife Cheryle, son Patrick and Tasma (Taz) Wilke, daughter Teresa, and Richard Ohm. Grandchildren: Alison Wilke, Shawn Ohm, Bradley Wilke, Brent Ohm, Caleigh Wilke, Kimberly Ohm, and great-grandson Luca Herzog. Also, his sister Georgia and Denise Doering, sister Peggy and John Williams, sisters-in-law, Molly Wilke and Margaret Wilke.   

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Forest Riders Snowmobile Club. www.forestriderstrailclub.com/donate or plant a tree in your yard in his memory.

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