Thief River Falls - Duane Bjerke, 73, of Thief River Falls, died on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, N.D. following a long battle with cancer.
Funeral services were held Monday, Feb. 24 at Johnson Funeral Service in Thief River Falls, with Rev. Robert Dahlen officiating. Interment was held at Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls.
Duane Bjerke was born Nov. 8, 1940 in Thief River Falls, son of the late “J.H.” Julian and Minnie (Rode) Bjerke. He was raised in Thief River Falls and confirmed at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He attended school at Lincoln High School graduating in 1958. He worked for a time in the potato fields in the Red River Valley. Duane began working bridge construction throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.
On Nov. 3, 1962, he was united in marriage to Arlene Lappegaard at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Thief River Falls. They moved where the construction work was taking place. In 1978, they settled in Thief River Falls where they have since resided. He began working at FmHA assessing land values until his retirement in the early 1990s he also worked for Dean Kaushagen construction in the Thief River Falls area.
He enjoyed hunting, fishing, harassing his grandkids, camping, gardening, watching his grandkids swim for the Prowlers. Duane loved to watch western movies especially John Wayne. He especially enjoyed attending the grandkids’ events and the time spent with them. He was known for his donuts and muffins. Running around town and visiting were a big part of his day.
Duane is survived by his wife of 51 years, Arlene, Thief River Falls; children, Jerrold (Kimberly) Bjerke of Coronado, Calif; Penny (Ryan) Brang of Thief River Falls, Patty (John) Forsberg of Bemidji; grandchildren Jordan (special friend Brittney) Bjerke, Shyenne and Cameron White of Thief River Falls, Carolyn (Gerald) Stothers of Cape Coral, Fla., Tiffany (Michael) McKittrick of Eden Prairie, Thomas (Nichole) Bjerke of Choctaw, Okla., Kyrsten (Joshua) Kirk of Clarksville, Tenn., Matthew and Andrew Brang of Thief River Falls, Mikel and David Forsberg of Bemidji: great-grandchildren Landon Stothers, Connor McKittrick, Gabriel Tew-Bjerke, Josiah John Bjerke; father-in-law DeWein Lappegaard of Goodridge; sister Diana Vigstol of Red Lake Falls, Darla (Rick) Taddy of Wisconsin; brother Donald Bjerke of Forrest Lake; several nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his daughter Peggy; granddaughters Raya White, Sabrina Marie, parents J.H. and Minnie Bjerke, mother-in-law Alice Lappegaard, nieces Suzanne and Roxanne Vigstol, along with many other family members.
Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.johnsonfuneralservice.com.