Les Slagle, 70, of Minot, formerly of Williston, N.D., passed away Friday, April 30, 2021, at Trinity Health in Minot, N.D.
Les was born Oct. 30, 1950, to Jerald and Nora (Bawden) Slagle in Williston, N.D. He was raised on the family farm northeast of Alexander, along with his three siblings. He attended grade school and high school in Alexander. At a young age, he learned a strong work ethic from doing work on the farm. He started driving a tractor when he was 12 years old, and he often joked that he knew the exact number of rounds to be made in the tractor as he summer- fallowed each field. His favorite pastime while growing up on the farm was hunting, especially for deer. During high school, Les participated in football and basketball as an Alexander Comet and graduated in 1968. He attended college at UND - Williston, where he received a two-year agri-business certificate. Les was drafted into the Army in the spring of 1971. He completed basic training at Fort Polk, La., and advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga., He then served 14 months as a military police officer in South Korea and attained the rank of Specialist 4th Class. He was very proud to be a United States veteran.
Les and Barbara Bergstrom met while attending college in Williston. On Sept. 1, 1973, Les and Barb were married at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Ray. They lived in Dickinson for one year and then moved to Williston. Williston would remain their home for the next 41 years. Their home was made complete with the birth of their two daughters, Brenna Ann and Teresa Beth. Les loved his wife and daughters beyond measure.
Les and Barb were active members of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church during their years in Williston. Les joined the church on March 8, 1987. Les played city league basketball and softball in his earlier years. He also refereed Class B boys’ basketball for a number of years. A pickup camper was purchased when the girls were young, and many fun family weekends were spent at the river. During these years, he also enjoyed gun and bow hunting. Les started playing golf in his 20s, and it became a lifelong passion. He enjoyed playing many courses in North Dakota and around the country. He also enjoyed watching television. It was said there was never a remote control that didn’t fit his hand perfectly.
Les worked for GTA as a feed salesman for several years. He serviced over 40 elevators in western N.D. and eastern Montana. He then went to work as a salesman for Double EE Service, an oilfield supply company, for the next seven years. While at Double EE, he serviced retail customers throughout the entire Williston Basin. Between those jobs, Les drove over two million miles. He said that he knew he had a co-pilot who kept him safe in his travels. Only later in life did he look back and realize that God was the pilot, and he was the co-pilot.
In 1990, Les decided it was time for a career change, so at the age of 40, he enrolled at the Police Academy in Devils Lake. In his earlier years, he had never enjoyed school all that much, but this time he took school seriously and was at the top of his class. He was affectionately nicknamed “Pops” by his classmates. Following graduation, Les was hired by the City of Williston Police Department, where he spent the next 20 years and achieved the rank of Sergeant. He was known for his sense of humor (practical jokes) as a way to relieve stress in pressure situations and just to make the work day more interesting. He always tried to be fair but firm with the younger officers. Les served on the Family Crisis Shelter Board for several years while he was a police officer, and he was the President of the Board for the last years he was there.
After retiring from the Williston Police Department in 2010, Les went to work for Diamond Resources, a land and mineral leasing company. He always said this last job was his favorite one. Even though he worked for the oil companies, he made it his mission to represent the land and mineral owners and make sure they were treated fairly. He was always a “farm boy” at heart.
Les and Barb retired in 2014 and moved to Minot in 2015 to be closer to family. They made many wonderful memories traveling together and with family and friends. They were members of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Minot, where Les especially enjoyed the Saturday morning Men’s Group.
Les was very much a “people person.” He loved visiting, whether it be with family, friends, or complete strangers. He was a great story teller. He enjoyed writing poetry and song lyrics. He wrote a poem for both of his daughters and for each of his grandchildren when they were born. At Christmas, the “gag” gifts often included a humorous rendition of his poetry. He also wrote a book about his years as a police officer, something he felt his grandchildren would enjoy in the future.
His family was very important to him. Les was thankful to God for giving him the years he had on this earth and that he was able to see his daughters grow up and get married and all of his grandchildren born. Watching each grandchild’s unique personality develop as they grew brought him the greatest joy. He absolutely loved being a grandpa.
His determination to live never diminished throughout his courageous battle with interstitial lung disease. His love for his family and his love for life gave him the strength to carry on until God called him home. Our dear husband, dad, grandpa/papa will be forever loved and missed.
Survivors include his loving wife of 47 years, Barb; daughters and sons-in-law, Brenna and Don Neumann, and Teresa and Brian Claypool; grandchildren, Brynn, Ava, and Luke Neumann, and Nora and Wyatt Claypool; sisters, Sherry (Jerome) Lervick, Rini (Steve) Coffin; brother, Rich Slagle; in-laws, Jacki (Vern) Barman, Gary Bergstrom, Bruce (Mari) Bergstrom, Janis (Dave) Bosch, Andrea (Brad) Miller, Alan (Rachel) Bergstrom, Penny Slagle; many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Les was preceded in death by his parents, Jerry and Nora Slagle; grandparents, Willie and Maggie Bawden, J.D. and Theresa Slagle; in-laws, Garfield and Marlys Bergstrom; aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation will be held at the Fulkerson Stevenson Funeral Home on Thursday, May 6, 2021, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and at the church one hour prior to services.
Since Les was a storyteller, the family invites all family and friends to share stories and memories at a celebration of his life at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6, 2021, at the multipurpose building at the upper Missouri Valley Fairgrounds in Williston. Dress is casual.
His Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, May 7, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Williston. Fr. Russell Kovash will celebrate the Mass. Inurnment with military honors will follow in Riverview Cemetery, Williston.
Fulkerson Stevenson Funeral Home of Williston, N.D. is assisting the family. Friends may sign the on-line register book and give their condolences at www.fulkersons.com