Barbara Ann Ronningen Torgerson passed away September 30, 2019, on her 73rd birthday, surrounded by the love and physical presence of her family.
A North Dakota native, Barbara was born at St. Luke’s in Fargo, ND in 1946. She was a north-sider who graduated as part of the penultimate class of Fargo Central High School in 1964; earned her B.S. in Food and Nutrition from NDSU in 1968 (Magna Cum Laude); completed an internship at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Medical Center and secured her Registered Dietitian status in 1969, and received an M.S. in Food and Nutrition (Summa Cum Laude) from NDSU in 1970. She was also a proud Gamma Phi Beta sister. As lifelong learner and true academic, she obtained a PhD in Human and Organizational Development from the Fielding Institute (Santa Barbara, CA) in 1990.
Over the course of her accomplished career, Barbara served as a dietitian (Fargo Veterans Hospital, Dakota Clinic), state nutritionist (North Dakota Extension Service, NDSU), Director of Food Service (St. Ansgar Hospital), counselor, and professor at Concordia College. The bulk of her career was spent at Concordia, where she began as a part-time instructor in the Department of Home Economics and progressed to the position of Department Chair for the Family & Nutrition Sciences Department. In 1993, she chaired the annual Faith, Reason, and World Affairs Symposium for the college, bringing singer and educator Jane Sapp to the community to dialog about “Who Cares for Our Children?” She retired from Concordia in 2010 after 32 years of service.
Barbara fiercely treasured the long and love-filled life her parents shared; deep connections with family and friends; satisfying work; relaxing time at the lake and in Arizona spent reading, walking, golfing (and recruiting proteges to the sport of golfing), playing piano and cards; cooking; a strong and grounding faith, and contributing back to her community by sharing her many talents. She (and her family) was also ultimately blessed by the amazing care team at Elim Rehab and Care Center.
Milestones in her personal life include marrying Donald G. Rusness, Jr. in 1967; adopting her daughter, Ana, in the spring of 1978; and marrying Roger Torgerson in August, 2003 (gaining daughters Heidi, Jill, and Kristen).
Barbara is survived by her husband (Roger), her children (Ana & John; Heidi & Jason; Jill & Nic; and Kristen); five grandchildren (Isla, Kate, Elin, Sebastian, and Ole); her brother (Steve & Mary); and four nieces and nephews (Maria & Luke, Nora & Matt, Peter, and Paul). She was preceded in death by her parents, Nord and Nora Ronningen, who passed away five days apart in 2017.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.