Barbara Ronningen Torgerson

barbara ronningen torgerson
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.  

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  1. Our sympathies to your family during this time. Barb was well-liked and participated in some of the Chapel services. I believe her faith was solid and sincere and we know we have hope through Christ.

  2. Barb was a real sweetheart and a beloved member of our Alpha Omicron Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta. Rest In Peace dear Sister. Patti Pratt

  3. Barbara was a gifted teacher and a wonderful colleague and friend to all at Concordia. She lived a life of friendship and service to everyone.

  4. Roger, so sorry for your loss.
    Barbara was a really good alto and I am grateful I had the chance to sing with her (and you)
    in First Lutheran’s choir and in Carnegie Hall!
    You two made a great couple!
    You and the family are in our thoughts and prayers,
    Sara and Dan Hager

  5. To Barb’s Family –

    Am so saddened to learn of Barb’s passing. Dozens of fond 12th Street girlhood memories are filling my brain right now, e.g., daily to/from walks to Ben Franklin for Grades 5 – 9; 4-H Club; shared bridesmaid and bridal shower events; and later, chats when visits to our retired parents in AZ coincided. Barb’s remarkable accomplishments and their impact on those around her are her legacy. Blessings to all of you.

  6. I was so grateful to be Barbara’s colleague at Concordia. She was committed to providing meaningful and engaging learning experiences with students and I loved the opportunities to work with her to do that. She was a respected and respectful partner. She made a significant impact on so many students and on me as her colleague.

  7. Roger and family, We are so sorry to hear of Barb’s passing, but know she will finally have peace and no more pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  8. I am so saddened that Barbara died on our birthday. We were the very best of friends growing up in north Fargo just a block from each other. We shared September 30th as our birthday. We both took piano lessons from Mrs. Temple. We were sorority sisters. We were in 4-H together. We were always together.

    As years passed and our lives took different directions, we just did not keep in touch. But part of who I am today is because we were friends.

    My condolences go out to Roger and the family. My sincere sympathy on the loss of a very talented woman.

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