Posted 7/11/17 (Tue)
Paul Bergem, 87, of rural Arnegard, N.D., more recently of Fargo, N.D., passed away Sunday, July 2, 2017, at Essentia Health Care in Fargo, N.D.
Paul was born on the family farm on April 2, 1930, to Peder and Marie Bergem. He had one older sister, Lillian. Peder died in 1937 when Paul was only 6 years old. The family of three took upon itself the hard work and responsibility associated with farm life. They made a living by renting out the farmland for a while, milking cows, raising chickens, turkeys and gardening. They were blessed with kind neighbors. Teenage boys from these families were hired hands who became mentors and lifelong friends to Paul. The family attended Farland Lutheran Church in rural Arnegard. The congregation became their extended family.
Paul attended country school in Farland township through 8th grade. When Paul was ready to attend high school, the family moved to his uncle Louis Bergem’s farmstead on the edge of Watford City. Paul enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in sports during high school and played basketball and football.
After graduating from Watford City High School in 1949, Paul returned to his parents’ homestead and made farming and ranching his lifelong career.
On New Year’s Eve 1966, Paul met Dorothy Furstad, a local farm girl who was at that time teaching in Great Falls, Mont. and was home for Christmas vacation. Dorothy was impressed by Paul’s quick wit and gentle nature. She returned to Great Falls, but they didn’t forget about each other. Dorothy accepted a teaching position in Williston in 1968 and their romance flourished. Paul and Dorothy were married June 26, 1971, at Wilmington Lutheran Church in Arnegard. They made their home on the Bergem farm. Paul also took over the operation of the Furstad farm. Three daughters were born to them; Jennifer in 1973, Lori in 1974, and Paula in 1976.
Paul loved farming and ranching and worked for 67 years until he retired at the age of 86 due to health issues. Special thanks to Jim Larson of Arnegard, who was Paul’s good friend and faithful hired man for many years. Paul was driven by a strong work ethic and didn’t dwell on hardship. Each morning brought an opportunity to tackle another task. He remarked there was no better sight or feeling than looking back on a field of freshly turned black dirt you had just completed.
Those words were spoken years before his seven grandchildren came along. Seeing his daughters become mothers and the new generation come into the world topped it. When the kids and grandkids came home he always took time for long visits around the breakfast table, often lasting the whole morning. For the grandkids there was always time for a good game of chasing around the kitchen, a ride in the tractor, a driving lesson in the ATV, and lots and lots of laughter.
Paul loved music. He had no formal lessons, but played piano by ear. In his younger days he played with friends at community events from time to time. He enjoyed singing in the Farland Men’s Quartet and the Senior Citizens Choir. He was known to burst into song even in his final days.
Paul enjoyed his bowling league each Thursday night for many years. He won bowling awards, but would never brag about that. More so, he treasured the camaraderie with the other bowlers.
Paul was a member of Farland Lutheran Church, First Lutheran Church in Watford City, Sons of Norway, and 50 Years in the Saddle. Over the years, Paul served on the boards of McKenzie County Farm Bureau, Co-op Supply, Mon-Dak Elevator, and First Lutheran Church Council.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents, Peder and Marie.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; daughters Jennifer (Blair) Thoreson and their sons, Christian and Benjamin of Fargo, N.D.; Lori (David) Kosmatka and their daughters, Sophie and Aubrey of Devils Lake, N.D.; Paula (Michael) LeClair and their children, Maia, Hudson, and Louis of Maple Grove, Minn.; his sister, Lillian of Watford City; sisters-in-law Helen (Vernon) Grimes of Minnetonka, Minn.; and Janice (Michael) Ryan of Pepin, Wis. and their families.
He will be returned to Arnegard for funeral services and burial with Fulkerson Stevenson Funeral Home of Watford City. Friends may sign the on-line register and give their condolences at www.fulkersons.com.
His funeral service was held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, July 8, 2017, at First Lutheran Church in Watford City. Pastor Rob Favorite officiated. Burial was held in the Farland Churchyard Cemetery, northwest of Watford City.