Norris "Rip" Thompson

Norris J. Thompson (a.k.a. Rip, Rippy, Noonie, Junior, husband, dad, or grandpa), 79, Audubon, MN, died peacefully on Tuesday, December 1, at Sanford Health surrounded by his family. Norris Mustad was born on February 15, 1941 in Sharon, ND, to Norris and Doris Mustad. Norris lived in Hope, ND until he and his brother Vernon were later adopted by Lawrence and Dorothy Thompson. They moved to Fargo where he attended Fargo Central, graduating in 1959. After high school, Rip and Vern created great memories involving fast cars, motorcycles, pizza, beer and newspapers. Rip began delivering newspapers which started his long career at the Fargo Forum. Rip met Janice Backer in 1966 and they married on October 19, 1968 in Lisbon, ND. Before having their daughters Naomi and Nikki, they created memories with friends and established their bug for traveling. Rip lived with his family in Fargo until he and Jan moved to Little Cormorant lake, a place they both loved. Rip worked at the Forum for 57 years, retiring in the fall of 2019. He was a legend at the Forum. His office was filled with tools, plants, pictures, coffee, his latest projects and maybe even Christmas garland. Rip, or Norris as most people at the Forum knew him, was passionate about his work. He fixed anything and everything it took to get a newspaper out the door and he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Rip was a sentimental, quiet observer of life until you heard his laugh. He loved to laugh and you couldn't help but smile when you heard it. He was your go-to if you needed something fixed or a problem solved, always at the ready with tools in his pockets. A few of the things that made Rip the happiest were reminiscing, WWII airplanes, machinery of any kind (the older the better), sappy movies, traveling (especially to the ocean), tools, tinkering, flannel shirts, vests and family. He was immensely loved and we will miss his sweet and sentimental presence, smile, laughter, wit, hugs, quiet moments and his heartfelt, "Well, I love you too." Rip is survived by his wife Jan and furry loves, Jack and Jill; his daughters Naomi (Michael) Benson and Nikki (Joel) Johnson; his grandchildren, Ben and Nate Aufman and Zack, Noah, Josh, and Amara Miller; his brother Vernon (Marcia) Thompson; brothers Harlan (Rita) Johnson and Dennis (Melody) Johnson; sister Lois (Jerry) Peterson; many sisters and brothers-in-law, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. Norris was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Betty and brother-in-law Jack Shull and his nephew Chad Johnson. Due to current restrictions, a private funeral will be held on Tuesday, December 8, at 11 am in St. Francis Xavier church, Lake Park, MN. Rip’s family invites you to join the livestream of his funeral through Boulger Funeral Home. To sign the online guestbook and view the service, visit They also invite you to take some time that day to remember and reminisce about him, have some great laughs, and wear a flannel.

View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. Janice, Naomi, and Nikki….praying for you during this difficult time. Rip was such a great guy and he will be dearly missed.

  2. I’ve known Norris since he was in high school.He was a friend of my brother Gary Anderson so a friend of the whole family.I have lots of good memories.RIP Norris.Prayers and hugs to the family.So sorry for your loss.

  3. Jan, I am so very sorry to read of Rip’s passing. Know that we are thinking of you and your family, and keeping you close in thoughts and prayers.

  4. Words can’t express the loss nor can they tell you how great a person Rip was. He was the best brother a guy could ever have.He was my hero.

  5. Jan and Family,
    So sorry for your loss of Norris. I’ve missed seeing him, at church, the last few months. I loved giving him hugs and how we teased each other. He was such a kind and gentle soul. Love you Jan.

  6. Sad to hear of Rip’s passing. He was such a quiet and kind person. I’ll never forget that smirk on his face when he would hear about some of our antics after we finished work at Target in the late 70’s! So thankful to have had Jan and Rip in my life for 40+ years. RIP Norris and my thoughts are with Jan and the girls during this difficult time.

  7. Norris Thompson was a member of the Class of 1959, Fargo Central. He was also the nicest man I may have ever known. I didn’t know Norris in high school but got to know him well while we served together on our many high school reunion planning gatherings. Thank you for those meetings. I never remember Norris having a bad word for anyone or anything. He was truly a wonderful person and will be surely missed. Though I did not see him often, a void has now been left in my life. Rest in peace my friend.

    Jim Ebsen

  8. Janice, Naomi, &Nikki, words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. Rip was more than just a brother-in-law, he was a man with a tender heart and a love for everyone around him. We are going to miss his hugs, humor, love, and his wonderful laugh. We love you.

  9. Jan so very sorry for your loss. I just wished you a happy birthday I had no idea of your loss then. Dave and I send our love and prayers for you and your family.
    We did enjoy our dinner with you and Rip this year.

  10. Nikki and family,

    My prayers go out to you all. May the loving memories of your Dad help you and your family get through this difficult time


  11. Janice and family, Mike and I send our prayers and sympathies to each of you at this very difficult time. Rest in the Peace and Calm of Jesus. Mike and Judy Schlecht

  12. An uncommonly gentle and positive help to all of us in our our fumbling “cat herd” which met over the years representing the FCHS Class of 1959 to plan reunions. We will all miss him greatly.

  13. Janice, Naomi, Nikki and kids. We all will miss this amazing, kind, gentle man. Remember all the good times. Our heart hurts for you all. Love and hugs. We are here for you always.

  14. My condolences to you Jan & family.
    I was so glad to get a chance to see you & meet Your husband at Vacationaire a couple years
    Peace to you & family.

  15. Norris worked with my father and me at the Forum. When the Forum was switching over to computers, Norris took a computer class that I was teaching. Within minutes of Norris sitting down at the computer, he had taken it apart to see what was inside. Sending thoughts and prayers to his family.

  16. So sorry about the loss of Rip. He will certainly be missed by us as well. We have many happy memories of him at our class reunions. We will miss that big laugh of his too.

  17. Nome, Nikki, Janice, and the whole family,
    I am so sorry. I hold you all in prayer as you grieve and for all of your family and friends. I am thankful for Rip’s knowing smile, his contagious laugh, his ease with silence, his gentle teasing, his sincere affection for the three of you, time shared, and for that beautiful red pickup (I still dream of driving one of those someday).

    Love to you all.

  18. If someone were to ask me what I remember most about my Uncle Norris, I would have to say his laugh. It will stay with me forever.

  19. Janice, Naomi, Nikki – I am praying for you durning this difficult time. I go back to our family Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter holiday gatherings and the time we spent together. Remembering Rip’s laugh, flannel, and presence. God bless and love you.

  20. So sorry to hear about Rip. My condolences to the family. He will be missed by many people. His office was always a nice place to visit – he always had a smile. Jan, I will be thinking of you. Take care.

  21. Our sympathies to RIP’s family. Dennis worked with him at the Forum from 67-75. He worked with Rip and Vern. Stories have been shared re: times together with Vern and Rip. Our sympathies with you all. Sincerely Dennis and Joan Ness

  22. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family, many prayers during this difficult time.

  23. Norris was the kindest man I had ever met. I worked as a photojournalist at The Forum for almost 10 years. Any time I had a problem, whether it be a monopod that needed tightening, a lens filter that was stuck, or a problem in the studio, Norris could fix it.
    I loved watching him walk through the newsroom on his way to his shop. It was just a comfort thing for me. Maybe because of his personality, or the feeling you got of having a grandpa around.
    After I quit The Forum, I loved seeing him at NDSU basketball games when I would cover them.
    Rest In Peace, Norris. You impacted the lives of many and will be missed.
    Prayer to his family for peace, comfort, and understanding in the coming days, months and years.

  24. Janice and family, was sorry to hear of your loss. I didn’t know Rip very well, but I always think of him smiling or laughing! Will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  25. Naomi and Family;

    Norris sounds like a wonderful man that left a lasting impression on all he met. He raised an amazing daughter (Naomi) that I have the pleasure of working with, and she shares the same strong passion for her work as well. Any man that loves sappy movies and flannels is a man after my own heart.

    Sending thoughts and prayers to you all during this hard time!

  26. We are sorry for your loss Jan, Nicky, and Naomi. Our prayers are lifted up to ease your sorrows. I am going to miss Norris so much, I will miss our visits on the phone, I had the privilege of enjoying his laughter and humor on our many road trips. I will forever cherish those memories. May God bless you all.

  27. Our deepest sympathy to Jan and family, Rip and Dad (Louie) will have a good time in heaven talking about old times.
    The family of Dwayne & Linda Paquin

  28. I am so sorry Aunt Janice, Naomi, and Nikki and all the grandchildren. I will miss Uncle Rip’s hugs and his chuckles. He was a great man. Love, hugs and prayers.

  29. Condolences to Jan and family of Norris Thompson.
    It was always a treat to stop in his “fix-it” shop. I doubt that there were many electronic challenges that Rip couldn’t solve…trouble with a fish locater, he could fix it…trouble with a major Forum concern, he could fix it. His office was close to the coffee dispenser and it was always uplifting to share some time with him. He was like the Mr. Rogers(with a vest) of The Forum. He was always a source of comfort (maybe it was the soft flannel shirts). His magic shop was like an island in a massive building with no allegiance to anyone but there to help anyone. A genuine man with a little Einstein and a bit of Mr. Rogers rolled into one Rip. He will be missed….RIP

  30. Jan and family,
    My heart aches for your loss. I remember warmly the Sunday’s Jerry and I spent in the church pews with you and Rip. He always had a smile for us and and we loved visiting with both of you. I missed seeing you this summer as I avoided church due to the COVID virus. But have fond memories of my last visit with you last summer. Memories are what we will cling to in the days ahead. May you feel God’s peace and love.

  31. Jan and family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I enjoyed working with rip through the years.

  32. Janice, Naomi, & Nikki- We were so incredibly blessed to have Uncle Rip in our lives. He modeled for all of us a zest for life, work ethic, and a love for family. He will be missed. Sending you our thoughts and hope for strength and peace.

  33. Rip was such a great man. He was a huge part of our lives growing-up and still is today. We will all miss him very much. Love you you Janice, Naomi, and Nikki.

  34. Sorry for your loss. He was a legend here at The Forum and will be greatly missed. God bless you all.

  35. Nip was one of the greatest men and co-worker I was fortunate to know and work with. He will be missed by everyone he had contact with. So sorry for your and our loss.

  36. I remember as a kid thinking Rip was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. found out later he truly was. Thinking of you girls. Bruce Gustafson

  37. So very sorry Jan and Family for the loss of Norris. He always had a smile and chuckle whenever I saw him. Such a very nice Forum person. May you all have many wonderful memories to get you through this very difficult time. Take care and God bless.

  38. Over the years that I occupied the Forum library, I sent out frequent SOS messages for Norris because the old power file was acting up or completely inoperable. He’d saunter in with that sweet smile on his face and ask what I needed, even though he could likely guess.

    As Norris worked on the file, we’d chat about the old Fargo as it was (he graduated from high school with my brother) during our youth and other things that we had in common. Other times, we’d just chat during the early morning hours as the sleepy building was just waking up.

    Norris was, as they say, one of the good ones. My heart goes out to his family, for they must miss him terribly. Rest well, Norris. You’ve earned your peace.

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Accessibility Tools