Douglas Melvin Odegaard, Sr., 91, of Fargo, ND passed away on Thursday, September 2, 2021 at his home at Bethany on 42nd. Doug was born on July 4th, 1930 in Grafton, North Dakota to Melvin and Ida (Hagen) Odegaard. He resided in Grafton, ND until graduation from Grafton High School in 1948. Doug was raised during the Great Depression, a time of economic hardship and human suffering. This transformed the way he perceived life and the pursuit of happiness. He forever lived, raising a family, and treating others with the most love and respect only one living in that time could appreciate. Doug enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG), Co. C, 164th Regiment, in October of 1947. After his high school graduation, he enlisted in the United States Air Force was deployed to and served in the Korean War with the 18th Fighter/Bomber Wing for 18 months - from July 1950 to January 1952. His time in Korea brought many incredible memories, tragedies, and truly riveting stories that Doug would carry with him and share with his family for many years. Doug’s years in Korea were both formative and life altering for the man that he would become and the person that many loved and cherished. Upon his return from the Korean War, Doug married Shirley Matzke on September 12, 1952 in Thief River Falls, MN. Their union produced six children who in turn blessed them with 14 beautiful grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. After Korea, Doug was employed by Northwestern Bell until he enrolled at the University of North Dakota in 1953 where he graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. Doug was, and will always be, a fervent supporter and fan of the University of North Dakota. It was a topic of many family discussions and rivalries within the family of support and dedication to his alma mater. During this period, Doug rejoined the NDNG and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1955. He completed 28 years of service and retired as a Captain in the United States Army. Doug loved his time in the military and was extremely proud of the sacrifice that he and many of his friends provided our country during his military service. Doug’s time in the military would provide him great comfort and pain over the years. Following his college graduation, Doug taught at Crookston High School for two years. He was then employed by State Farm Insurance Company in Thief River Falls, MN until he took employment with the North Dakota Mill Elevator and Bridgeman Creamery. Doug’s passion for teaching returned him to the education field as the Education Services Office at the Grand Forks AFB, ND and eventually to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. Doug was responsible for the development of undergraduate and graduate level programs with colleges and universities for military personnel and civilians. As a follow-on assignment, he was promoted to the position of Military Airlift Command Deputy Education Director at Scott AFB, Illinois. Doug, who loved where he was raised, returned to Grafton, ND where he met and married Elizabeth Getz on February 27, 1972. Doug was employed as Business Manager for Getz Rexall Drug Company for many years where he served beside Elizabeth until July 1980, building a very successful business. They served five rural communities providing pharmaceutical care and local small business service as well as employing numerous employees and supporting community goals. Doug returned to federal service as the North Dakota State Administrative Officer for the United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural and Stabilization and Conservation Service in 1980. Doug was responsible for the management of USDA rural farming program management and oversight for the state of North Dakota. Doug and his wife “Betty”, both retired from professional service in August 1990. They spent the next 30 years providing support and volunteerism for the less fortunate, primarily the Veterans Administration and military retirees. Following retirement, they purchased a home in St. Petersburg, Florida where they spent their winters for twenty five years and their summers in Detroit Lakes and Fargo. They spent many of those later summers residing at Riverview Place where they developed many friendships. Doug was a lifetime member of the VFW, a past Commander of the American Legion, a past Grand Chef de Gare of the 40 et 8 and a member of the AmVets. He continued these memberships during his lifetime. He was a past President of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, and he also served on the North Dakota State Selective Service and Advisory Board to the North Dakota Job Services in the 1970’s. He was a past member of the Elks, Eagles, Masonic Lodge and Shrine. Doug and Betty loved to travel and traveled extensively during their years together; both at home and abroad. They also enjoyed their time share at Riding Mountain in Canada as well as their numerous overseas adventures over their 43 years of marriage. Doug will be remembered by his friends and acquaintances as a man who could relate and converse with anyone; who loved life and people, regardless of who they are or where they come from. He was as comfortable discussing issues with someone he met on the street or with someone of great influence or prestige. He is survived by his six children: Steve (Diane) Odegaard, Lori (Mike) Sorteberg, Julie (Brian) Hersch, David (Jan) Odegaard, Dan (Lana) Odegaard and Douglas (Michel Ann) Odegaard Jr. 14 grandchildren: Kali (Josh) Wachter, Chelsey Odegaard, Lisa (Ryan) Schlosser, Sean (Amanda) Sorteberg, Garret Foss (Samantha), Jordan Hersch, Chandler Hersch (Kelly), Bailey Odegaard, Katie Odegaard, Anders Odegaard, Gretta Jackson, Gunnar (Abbie) Odegaard, Samantha and Dakota Odegaard. 15 great grandchildren: Lincoln, Tatum, Noah, Beau, Eli, Summer, Sophie, Spencer, Owen, Levi, Nora, Ezekiel, Oscar, Isadora, and Bennett. His brother, Marvin (Kris) Odegaard. Doug has been preceded in death by his wife Betty, parents Melvin and Ida, sisters Marie, LaMoine and Beverly. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to be given to the Fargo National Cemetery, Fargo or Hospice of the Red River Valley.

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  1. Steve,David, Lori, Julie,Dan & Doug and families. So very sorry for the loss of your dad & father in law & grandfather. Pooch was a very special person. He will be greatly missed many people.
    May God be with you all during this difficult time.

  2. Our deepest sympathy to the Odegaard family. Doug was a friend and a mentor to me. I always enjoyed visiting with him! He will be greatly missed.
    Lonnie and Jeff Pederson

  3. So sorry for your loss. A wonderful dad, husband, friend, colleague, and human being. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.


    Deanne and Todd Warner

  4. A good person who cared for people – and a gift of gab! What a life he had. His love for Betty was extraordinary.

    My love to his family …

    Paul Larsen

  5. During my time as one of the van drivers at Riverview Place, I got to know Doug very well. He was always an interesting person to talk to, and made everyone who knew him at least chuckle, if not laugh out loud! I always looked forward to the time I could spend with Doug, either when driving him to an appointment, in the dining room, or just in casual meetings in the hall. He made my day complete!
    As a Military Veteran myself, I always made it a point to learn the ranks and service of the Veteran residents at Riverview, and tried to address them with the military courtesy they deserved (and almost all of them had held ranks well above mine!!!) therefore I almost always addressed Doug as “Cap”, military slang that was used to address a Captain in your own unit. Since we were both at Riverview, that became our unit. I know that “Cap” appreciated this small courtesy and would beam when addressed in this fashion. And like old Veterans, when we got together, it was imperative that we tell each other stories of our time in the Service. It’s called “Telling stories and swapping lies” and is guaranteed to bring a few smiles to the Veteran.
    “Cap”, I can’t begin to tell you how much pleasure you gave me during our time at Riverview! I will always hold you in my heart both as a dear friend and a fellow Veteran! Your tour here, Sir, is done and you are relieved of duty!

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