Richard Arden Gjervold
February 5, 1950 ~ September 18, 2021
Richard (Rick) Arden Gjervold, 71, of Land O’ Lakes, FL, passed away on Saturday, September 18, 2021, at The Rucki Hospice Care Center in Zephyrhills, FL. Rick Gjervold was born on February 5, 1950, in Fargo, ND, and was adopted by Arden Kenneth Gjervold and Avis Pauline (Iverson) Gjervold. His early schooling was all in north Fargo, graduating from Fargo North High School in 1968. Rick attended North Dakota State University (NDSU), then transferred to Moorhead State University (MSU), graduating with a BA in English in May 1972. The following year he obtained his teaching certification. On August 18, 1973, Rick married Karen Rae Storbeck, and together they had two sons. Rick began his career in education in Pelican Rapids, MN, teaching high school English. He then worked as a substitute teacher and later taught 9th grade English at Fargo South High School. When not holding teaching positions, he worked with his dad as Office Manager at Gjervold Motor Company in Fargo, ND, from 1974 through December 1991. During this time he also pursued an MA in English through NDSU, completed in 1993. Rick taught a variety of English literature, poetry, and composition courses at various colleges in the Fargo-Moorhead area (Concordia College, MSU, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, and NDSU). He retired from NDSU due to health reasons in December 2015. Rick had a passion for teaching poetry and being involved in writers’ workshops. He published several works, including his poem “Before My Sister’s Wedding in California” (in Red Weather, Spring 1988), birding essay “Christmas Gifts: Sacramento NWR” (in Bird Watcher’s Digest, Nov./Dec. 2014), and short story “The Outpost” (in South Dakota Review, Winter 2008). Growing up, Rick treasured spending his summers at Pelican Lake, near Detroit Lakes, MN, and the special friendships he made there. Rick was an avid hunter and fisherman, accompanying his dad and friends on many adventures. Later, when his sons didn’t share his enthusiasm for shooting game, he focused more on birdwatching and photography to pass his outdoor heritage on to them. Rick annually participated in the Fargo-Moorhead Christmas bird count, and was a longtime member of Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited. Rick was very involved with his family, playing sports with his sons at home, helping coach their teams, and traveling to countless soccer games. He played soccer along with his wife on a coed adult league for over 25 years. Rick’s outdoor hobbies included biking, hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. He experienced God out in nature. He also enjoyed drawing and sketching, thoughtfully creating personalized notes and cards for loved ones. Rick attended Sunday school and was confirmed at Messiah Lutheran Church. Years later, he and his wife became members of First Lutheran Church in Fargo, ND, where Rick was involved with the Men’s Group. In April 2018, Rick and his wife moved to The Groves retirement community in Land O’ Lakes, FL, within a short distance of their granddaughters. They joined an active, supporting congregation at Idlewild Baptist Church. Rick is survived by his wife of 48 years, Karen; his two sons, Colin (Kelly) Gjervold [Tampa, FL], and Aric Gjervold [Fargo, ND]; two granddaughters, Mariah and Saoirse; his sister, Ann Mikalis [Vacaville, CA]; sisters-in-law Stacy Lundblad, Audrey Storbeck, Joyce (David) Dobmeier ; and nieces and nephews, Brittney (Shawn) Rehm, (godson) Brady (Kaylee) Lundblad, Nicole Dobmeier, Aaron Dobmeier, and (goddaughter) Kelsey Mikalis. He was preceded in death by his parents, Arden and Avis Gjervold. Donations in honor of Rick may be given to your regional Audubon chapter to support conservation of native bird habitats – Audubon Dakota (dakota.audubon.org) or Audubon Florida (fl.audubon.org). Donations may also be given to your regional Hospice chapter.
I was fortunate to have had Mr. Gjervold as my 11th grade English Teacher during his one year in Pelican Rapids nearly 50 years ago. He assigned us to read the book “A Separate Peace”. It was a story about two high school boys. One who excels in athletics and the other in studies, yet they become close friends at a boarding school during World War II. It was a story of friendship and forgiveness which I have carried with me through out my life
I knew that he had left teaching after that first year. Many years later Al Siegle, a long term teacher at Pelican, told me that Mr. Gjervold had returned to teaching. I was so pleased about his return to teaching where he truly belonged so he could influence young minds such as mine.
Farewell and following seas to you Mr. Gjervold as you find your “Separate Peace”. God Bless.
Rick and I were teenagers together. We graduated from Fargo North High School in 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War. By chance, while in our junior and senior years, we were scheduled into the same Art class. Also by chance that first year, the two of us sat next to each other. We hit it off, becoming fast friends. We were seated at work tables with several other boys. There were girls in the class, but we chose to self-segregate. Speaking for myself, I was too intimidated to choose to sit in the middle of a group of girls. Rick probably shared the same feelings. The other guys included Gary Gieszler, Rick Olson, Ritchie Jacobson, Tom Rockne and a boy named Wes who had a real knack for drawing.
Of course, it was Art class. I always looked forward to seeing Rick and sharing in the adventure of spreading paint, drawing and building with clay. He always seemed to admire my creations and I really appreciated that. One of the guys, Rick Olson, was very talented too. He drew and painted the coolest looking cars; seriously. Together we all talked the talk of teenage boys and had some good laughs. Looking back, I image most of our conversations bordered on nonsense. You can still see black and white photos of those boys in our 1968 Spartan yearbook.
Often, Rick and I would meet for lunch. We would continue our conversations from Art class and usually ended up talking about hunting. That led to the occasional Saturday morning duck hunts. I remember driving to the area north of Valley City (the central flyway of the continent) in the dark predawn. On opening day of the early Teal hunting season, September 1967, we both shot our limit of ducks. A prideful moment for teenage boys.
I remember a winter fox hunt. It was colder than hell and a gray day. Rick was driving the snowmobile from his dad’s place— Gjervold Motors. I was the passenger in the back. He spotted a beautiful red fox and took off after it. The next thing I knew, we were cruising across a vast frozen plowed field. The upturned soil was hard as rock. Snow lay in the furrowed folds of black earth. Rick kept the gas flowing. The skis hit the rock-like dirt like a big hammer hits a big nail. Our teeth were knocking around in our mouths. My vertebrae were slamming up and down like a jackhammer. Rick kept after the fox for longer than I would have. Finally, we pulled up next to the exhausted animal. It was my turn to go into action. I jumped off the snowmobile with shotgun in hand…
Now, here comes the part I never told Rick—I was physically numbed by the wham-bam ride across the field. I was staggering. I was up close and had a good look at the spent red fox. His tongue hung from his panting mouth. I raised my twenty-gauge. It was an easy shot. I leveled my weapon and took aim… Now, here’s the part I never told Rick. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t shoot the animal. It wasn’t fair. I lowered my gun and turned to Rick. I blurted a lie, “My gun’s jammed! The damn thing is jammed!”
Rick looked at me in dismay. The fox slipped away into a brushy ravine and was gone. The skis were badly bent from the brutal ride. Back home, I’m sure Rick’s dad was not happy. The entire hunt ended like it had started—a kind-of gray day affair and with disappointment. Looking back over these long years, I would like to think Rick forgives me for letting the red fox go. In fact, I know he does.
Rick was a gentle-man and a gentle soul. I will miss him, “Steve”, SD Nelson in Arizona
So sorry for your loss. I remember Rick very well from our highschool days. I enjoyed visiting with him at our 50th reunion. Very talented man. Rest in Peace Rick.
Taught English with Rick at MSUM and NDSU. Enjoyed his company. Will miss him.
You are in my thoughts. Cherish your memories. I know you have many!
I barely knew Rick, but the wonderful video memorial makes me feel like I do. Rick graduated with my husband Greg Harness. I met Rick and his wife Karen at the 1968 class reunion. They seemed like a wonderful couple, and now I know they were and had a wonderfully full life together. God bless you, Karen. I am very sorry for your loss.
I met Rick when both of us were English majors at Moorhead State. We were both in a rigorous and also peculiar Literary Criticism course. It was peculiar in that that the class had only five or six students, and was taught by a brilliant and eccentric professor, Rufus Bellamy. Rick and I were both lake people. Rick was one of the nicest people I ever knew. He was gregarious and genuinely interested is people. I remember that he invited me over to his home to watch basketball with his dad, and we had a great time. I left F-M soon after, and did not see hin again until our combined 50th reunion. Same Rick – friendly, joking. It was such fun to talk to him again. Best regards to the family.
Very beautiful service. We send you our love. May the Lord wrap you in his loving arms and carry you through this hard time. Rick was a wonderful man. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Tammy and Kevin
What a beautiful and touching memorial. Rick touched so many lives and was/is well loved.
Rick was the first person I met when we moved to the Grooves. He always enjoyed seeing Lady and we looked forward to our visits with him. He took a picture of Phil and Lady out on the fishing pier and gave it to me after Phil passed. It has a place of honor on the front of my refrigerator where I look at it often and am grateful for his kindness.
My heart is with you Karen.
Wishing for peace and comfort for you all: Karen, Ann, and everybody. What a beautiful celebration of Rick’s life! I was six years younger than Rick, the daughter of close friends of Rick’s parents, Avis and Arden. Our lake cottage was right next door to theirs on Pelican Lake. I remember Rick at the lake, and at other family get-togethers as a gentle, kind and quiet guy (and handsome!). He and my brother Tom hung out together sometimes, and I’d see them sharing a laugh together. God Bless you all, Karen Elken Walker
I knew Rick well throughout our childhoods, especially because we were next-door neighbors at Pelican Lake and because our parents (mine were Dick and Luci Elken) had been friends for many years even before that. Also, our Dads were hunting and fishing buddies, so Rick and I were on many of those trips together when we came of that age. So, I have many memories of Rick from those great years at the Lake and hunting and fishing. I’ll focus on one memory:
In those days, parents trusted their kids with quite a bit of responsibility. So Rick and I, sometimes just the two of us, or with more friends like Jef Foss and Bill Schlossman, would take our families’ fishing boats and explore either upstream from Pelican Lake, on the Pelican River towards Detroit Lake, or downstream towards Dunvilla and Lake Lizzie. When exploring this quiet river as it passed though the farmland and small ponds and other lakes, it was a great place to enjoy and learn about nature: the fish, the waterfowl and other birds and reeds & lily-pads of that region. Even at an early age, Rick showed his love of nature and wildlife by spotting and helping me identify the species we saw — Rick was a couple years older than I. We also had fun naming some of the places along the river — such as a long culvert that the river flowed through under a highway, which we dubbed “The Tunnel of Relief”. I’ll let you imagine what we did there. Memories of these trips with Rick and other friends, even today after so many years, are a sort of “happy place” that I can reminisce about when I want to relax and chill.
Although I eventually moved to California, we kept in touch through Christmas cards and through my occasional trip back to our ND and MN homeland. Rick was a great friend who I miss dearly.
Rick was a former student and then a colleague in the MSU Engish department. But I really got to know him in the times we were able to fish together. He was a sweet, kind, talented man, and a friend.
I know Karen and Aric from Roosevelt, where they were always a blessing to all of us who worked with them. We are so sad for you at this time. The video of your family with Rick is wonderful – and displays what a full life he had with you all. But the time is too short.. May God send His comfort to you all. Love from Judy & Harold Thompsen
I’m Tom Elken’s sister, Dana Elken Terrell. So the Gjervolds were a part of our lives from the beginning. Thus, it was quite natural for me to fall for the “Older man” when he was 6 and I was 5. We were enthusiastic about our intention to get married when we grew up. Our shared vision lasted for the months of one whole summer, I believe. We shared the innocence of childhood, and thus this loss has been deeply sad for me.
I knew Rick as a good, kind, thoughtful person. I moved away to California, but my parents remained neighbors at the lakes until the late 80s, I believe. They made a point of telling us about how much they loved, admired and respected Rick.
I can share one more story that was a very unfortunate one. When Rick and I reached that antagonistic stage when kids can’t stand the “cooties” of the opposite sex, perhaps we were in 5th and 6th grade. Rick did something that annoyed me completely. I don’t remember what it was, because it became overshadowed by my retaliation. I marched through our lake cottage looking for some way to annoy him back. Wow! A pot of water on the stove! I ran to dowse him with it. He let out a scream, because the water was hot! I ran away in shame, and sat with that in the woods until I regained my senses and when to apologize to him. He accepted the apology, but let me know that I hit his impetigo infection (which I didn’t know about), so it was doubly painful. My guilt got agonizing again so I apologized profusely.
Interestingly, I never got in trouble for that. I don’t know if he didn’t tell anyone, or if he also included the fact that I was very remorseful, so the grownups figured that I had learned my lesson and suffered enough.
We were much more respectful after that incident!
I share these stories to give more examples of what a special man Rick was, and what a shining soul he is now in heaven.
I worked with both Aric and Karen at Roosevelt. Karen was my sons kindergarten teacher! I’m so sorry to see this, he sounds like he was a wonderful husband, father and grandpa, as well as a good friend to many. Big hugs to you as you go through this. Vickie Hoss