Ray Bentdahl, 1959

Former chair of Luther’s board of regents, RAY BENTDAHL, of Scottsdale, Ariz., died from respiratory failure cased by pulmonary fibrosis on April 2, 2012, at age 74. Bentdahl was a resident of Scottsdale and also maintained a home in Edina, Minn., with his wife of 53 years, SHIRLEY (KLINGSHEIM) BENTDAHL ‘59. He was raised on the family farm near Hanska, Minn., attended a one-room country schoolhouse and graduated from New Ulm (Minn.) High School. Ray began a 44-year career in commercial banking in 1963 at the Rushford State Bank in southern Minnesota. At the age of 29, he acquired the Commercial State Bank of Hokah, Minn. Through the 1970's and 1980's he acquired 12 bank locations in various southern Minnesota communities. The Bentdahl family moved to Edina, and in 1978, he acquired the Americana State Bank of Edina. In the 1980's and early 1990's he sold the southern Minnesota banks to focus on growing Americana Bank in the Twin Cities. In 2002, the bank name was changed to Excel Bank. In 2007, Excel merged with Milwaukee-based M & I Bank. Bentdahl served on Luther’s board from 1978 until 1990 and was chair from 1984 to 1986. He also served as chair of several other boards, including the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, and Excel Bank Corporation. He was a member of the Minnesota Bankers Association, Rotary Club, and the Minneapolis Club. Ray was a generous philanthropist and active fundraiser for many charitable causes. He and Shirley are life members of Luther’s President’s Council and received the Distinguished Service Award from Luther in 2009. Bentdahl Commons, the centerpiece of Luther’s campus was inspired by the work of renowned Prairie School landscape architect Jens Jensen, whose 1911 plan for Luther College laid the foundation for the look and feel of Luther’s campus. In celebration of the college’s upcoming sesquicentennial, Bentdahl Commons was dedicated in their honor on October 10, 2010. Ray was also an avid motorcycling and sports car enthusiast, and he spent many joyous hours behind the wheel at various racetracks driving a Porsche or Ferrari, or driving his Harley Davidson to the four corners of the U.S.A. (11,000 miles in 18 days). His greatest joy was spending time with his family and many, many friends. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughter, ANN BENTDAHL ‘85 (Roger); son, Craig (Stephanie); grandchildren, Kelsey, Kinsey, Kelly and Kate; nieces, Kristi Nitz (Mike) and Mary Babel Tzucker (Bob); grandnieces, Avery, Lyla, Carolyn and grandnephews Ryan, Noah, and Keane.