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Bendick Julius Vatsaas Jr., 80 Print E-mail
Written by TRF Times   
    Tacoma, Wash. - Bendick Julius Vatsaas Jr., 80, of Tacoma, Wash., and formerly of Thief River Falls, died Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
    A memorial service was held Saturday, June 16 at Oak Ridge Lutheran Church in Thief River Falls.
    Ben was the oldest child of Bendick and Bernice (Olson) Vatsaas. He was born on July 12, 1931 at home in Clay County, west of Hitterdahl. He moved to a small cabin west of Trail, where he lived for a year. He then moved to Gully, where he started school.
    He and his family moved to rural Thief River Falls in 1939 on Easter Sunday. There, he attended North Star Country School and Lincoln High School. He also attended the Area Vocational Technical Institute, taking auto mechanics. He joined the Air Force at the age of 17. He, and his brother Duane, served in Korea at the same time in 1954. Duane was in the Army.
    In 1955, Ben married Luetta Rode in Benson. Ben retired from the Air Force in 1968, after 20 years of service. They settled in Tacoma, Wash., where they owned a winter home in Apache Junction. They made trips abroad to the Orient, Europe, and a river cruise on the Volga River, from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Another trip they enjoyed was following the footsteps of the Apostle Paul throughout Greece and Turkey. For their 50th wedding anniversary, they enjoyed a cruise through the Panama Canal.
    He was involved extensively in his church and served on numerous committees. He was the grounds keeper for Trinity Lutheran Church of Tacoma, Wash. He would spend many hours working in the cemetery, getting it to look just perfect.
    Ben loved to play guitar and make music with his friends, playing at church, nursing homes, for family and friends. He also played at the Host Fest in Minot, N.D. He also liked working in the yard and ceramics. But most of all, he loved being with his children, grandkids and great-grandkids.
    Left to mourn his passing are his children, Debra Gramm, Ferndale, Wash., Becky (James) Smith, Tacoma, Wash., William (Chris) Vatsaas, Tacoma, Wash.; 10 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; brother, Duane (Pauline) Vatsaas, Thief River Falls; sisters, Inga Kennedy, Winston-Salem, N.C., JoAnn (Delray) Offerdahl, Thief River Falls, Patricia (Richard) Kjensrud, Thief River Falls; and many nieces, nephews, and friends of the Tacoma and Thief River Falls communities.
    He was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years in 2008; son-in-law Jerry Gramm; his parents; brother Jerry; infant brother; sister-in-law, Juanita Vatsaas; brother-in-law, James Kennedy; sister-in-law, Lona Mae Vatsaas; niece Susan; and nephew Mitch.       A00003B2012JN27