Verdie Leroy Ellingson was born on July 18, 1924, in Montevideo, Minn., to Jens and Ragna (Olson) Ellingson. He was baptized and confirmed at Mandt Lutheran Church. Verdie attended rural school in Chippewa County through 8th grade and then Milan (Minn.) High School, graduating in 1942. He helped operate the family farm until he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served with the occupation forces in Korea in 1946 and 1947. Following his return, he attended Luther College, where he graduated with a B.A. degree in 1950. In 1954, he earned a master’s degree in school administration at the University of Montana, Missoula. He received additional education at the University of Minnesota and Columbia University in New York.
Verdie began his career in education in 1950, as a teacher in Elkton, Minn. On June 15, 1952, he married Norma Retrum of Benson, Minn., and they moved to Austin, Minn. Verdie continued teaching and served as principal at Elkton High School, and in 1955, became superintendent of schools. Verdie and Norma moved to Sacred Heart, Minn., in 1958, and to Glencoe, Minn., in 1965, when Verdie accepted positions as superintendent in those school districts. Verdie finished his career, working for Horace Mann Insurance in Moorhead, Minn., for six years. The following year, he supervised student teachers at Concordia College and Moorhead State University before retiring in 1989.
Verdie was an active member of several professional organizations, maintaining lifetime memberships in the National Education Association and both the Minnesota and American Association for School Administrators. He served four years on the Minnesota State High School League Board and after his retirement, served on the board of Retired Educators of Minnesota. Verdie enjoyed his many years as an educator and liked to tell his grandchildren he had “gone to school” for 60 years. He was a lifelong learner, including Bible Study classes, book clubs and studying the Norwegian language. He started piano lessons at age 67. One of his greatest pastimes was reading, especially history.
Living out his faith and participating in church activities was always important to Verdie, from teaching Sunday School and singing in the church choir, to serving on the church council and countless committees. He was a member of service clubs in each community he lived, including Rotary and Kiwanis. He also enjoyed singing with the Fargo-Moorhead Barbershop Chorus and later the Kringen Kor. Verdie cherished his Norwegian heritage and was a proud member of Sons of Norway. He never missed an opportunity to have lutefisk and lefse!
Verdie loved to dance and enjoyed music and theatre. He was an avid sports fan and followed the Twins, Gophers, and all of his grandchildren’s activities.
Verdie’s greatest joy was his family. He was married to his sweetheart, Norma, for almost 60 years and loved spending time with her, their children, and especially, their grandchildren. A favorite place was the family cabin and time spent fishing, boating, playing Rook and making homemade ice cream. His extended family was also very important to Verdie. He treasured the relationships with his siblings, nieces and nephews.
Verdie died Nov. 5, 2018, at the age of ninety-four. He is survived by his children, Scott (Sue) Ellingson of Moorhead, Kristen (Greg) Lehman of St. Cloud, Todd (Jennifer) Ellingson of Maple Grove, Minn., and Kari (Dan) Bell of Colorado Springs, Colo.; grandchildren, Matt Ellingson, Andrew Ellingson, Jackie Lehman, Beth Lehman (Phillip Aquino), Dan Lehman, Rachel Ellingson, Grace Ellingson, Natalie Ellingson, Katie Gruenhagen (Nicholas Graves), Kyle Gruenhagen; step-grandson, Ryan Bell; great-granddaughter, Novella Aquino; and sisters-in-law, Cecil Ellingson and Irene (Roger) Ahrndt of Benson.
Verdie was preceded in death by his wife, Norma, on July 6, 2011; his parents, Jens and Ragna Ellingson; brothers, Julian, Orville, George, Calmer and Russell Ellingson; sisters, Sylvia Retrum and Idella Erickson; foster sister, Bertina Gustafson; brothers-in-law, Ray Retrum, Herbert Erickson, and James Pederson; and sisters-in-law, Alma Ellingson, Lucille Ellingson, Lillian Ellingson, Marlys Ellingson, and Gladys Pederson.
The family prefers memorials to Eventide Senior Living Community, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, ELCA World Hunger or a memorial of your choice.
Visitation was Nov. 11, 2018, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Moorhead. His funeral was Nov. 12, 2018, in the church. Burial took place in Riverside Cemetery, Moorhead.