Dana Mason Larson, career missionary with his wife Ruth (Rask) in both India and Argentina passed away Monday, December 9, 2013 at GracePointe, Cambridge. Dana and his large family were periodic residents in Isanti County while on leave during their years of service abroad, and later retired to live in the Cambridge area.
Dana was born May 29, 1921 in Akron, Ohio, the son of Swedish immigrants, Axel and Christine Larson. He had an older sister, Louise, who predeceased him. Encounters at revivals and youth camp led him to lasting Christian faith. Though possessing creative flair and a keen mind he gave up ambitions in civil engineering for a calling to Christian ministry leading to theological studies at Bethel Seminary. There he met and married Ruth Rask of Isanti.
They set sail with infant son, Jonathan, in late 1947 arriving in India as Gandhis assassination shook the country. They lived as pioneer workers for 20 years when eight more children were born, Timothy, Bette, Mark (died in infancy), Martha (deceased of cancer), Sara, Andrew, Samuel and Stephen all of whom attended public schools in Isanti and Cambridge.
Dana excelled in mastering language and culture, living close to the people he came to serve. A voracious and disciplined reader of the Scriptures he came to see the greater work of the Spirit as the real mission story, though he left India in 1967 harboring misgivings about the effectiveness of his own work.
But the ardor of his early call having reasserted itself, Dana and Ruth accepted an assignment to NW Argentina in 1968. While on their southbound journey, they discovered that their youngest son, Stephen, suffered a harrowing brush with kidney cancer, an illness he miraculously survived.
Dana and the family spent 18 years in settlements along the eastern slopes of the Andes where Dana was popularly known as Senor Biblia, Mr. Bible, for encouraging a largely Catholic society to rediscover the Scriptures. They retired in September 1987 when they returned to Minnesota.
In 1993 Dana and Ruth revisited the communities they had first served in India where they were greeted by great throngs and learned of the many churches that sprang from what had seemed like fruitless efforts.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth, seven children, 20 grandchildren, six great grandchildren, two nephews David and Dale Henry of Ohio, and a niece, Fern Spurlock of California. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Martha Thomsen; a son, Mark; and grandsons Joel Dean and Colin Larson.
Funeral services were held Friday, December 13, 2013 at First Baptist Church in Cambridge with Rev. Bob Jonsson and Rev. Earl Lassen officiating. Carlotta Lund served as pianist. Pallbearers were Daniel, Grace, Lizzie, Tessa and Wesley Larson and Dylan Mohs. Interment was in Isanti Union Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Strike Funeral Homes.