Dr. Steve M. Agnes

steve agnes

It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away. Everyone told me it would happen one day but it wasn’t something I wanted to hear or experience. If you’re reading this, then I guess I didn’t get my way. I died Saturday, April 8th at Bethany Nursing Home in Fargo from Parkinsons. To quote Josey Wales and Ten Bears, “It was a good day to die”. I am still not sure how I managed to die on Holy Saturday before Easter Vigil but hopefully, I have been redeemed by God and golfing with my beloved son, Bo, in heaven on Easter Sunday.

So I was born to Joyce (Horsewill) and Fillmore Agnes in Virginia, MN on August 5th, 1956. I was immediately dubbed “favorite child”. A title, I still hold. I spent most of my younger years in Rolette, ND and went to college at Mayville State, the University of North Dakota and Pacific College of Optometry in Oregon.

Speaking of titles, I held a few in my day…son, brother, husband, father, uncle, friend, Sam Elliott double, and Doctor of Optometry. I opened my first optometry clinic in Rolla, ND and later began my Neuro-developmental practice in Fargo. Specializing in developmental optometry was the dream, opening a full time vision therapy practice the goal. My work was my life, my patients, my joy. My lifetime friend and business partner, Nancy Gannarelli-Sand and an amazing staff helped me do just that. We were pioneers in the state and our vision therapy clinic was my greatest achievement. Just imagine the lives we touched.

So I was born, I blinked; and it was over. The memories I’m taking with me are more precious than gold. My brothers David and Jeff, all three of us cut from the same cloth, yet uniquely different. For the record, I always jumped higher than Dave, grew a better pony tail then Jeff and couldn’t wait for our annual Macanudo golf tournament at Moorhead CC. Kidding aside, I was truly honored to be your older brother and will miss you always.

I have been blessed to have two sisters, Cathy & Carolanne. Always on my side, faith filled, beautiful, and a great source of strength and chocolate chip cookies. Your humor and compassion especially the last few months were a blessing and soothing to my weary body.

To my nieces and nephews; watch your moms and dads closely… they got life right. I loved being in your lives, took pride in being your uncle and enjoyed following all of your activities.

To my bonus family; Nancy, Dana, Ben and Nicole, I treasure the memories; we laughed, golfed, swam, drank wine, vacationed, ate pizza and spaghetti, watched movies, played cards and more…we were family.

I will always remember the rush of every basketball game, especially the amateur games and the boys (you know who you are); the sound of a well- timed putt rolling into the cup; the joy of every “hole in one” that I hit (I have 8 you know); the birth of my son, Bo; the thrill of speaking in Bari, Italy at the Academy for European Sports Vision; working with F16 fighter pilots; the taste of tabasco sauce; a cold diet dew on a hot day, a cold beer and hot brat at the turn; movies and music; Sparky & Simba; a quiet fire and occasional cigar; the wisdom of Clint, Chief Ten Bears and Chief Dan George.

So I was born, I blinked and it was over. No building named after me, no monument erected in my honor. But, I DID have a chance to know and love each and every friend as well as my family. So in the end, do your best, follow your arrow and make something truly amazing in your life.

If you want, you can look for me on the golf course…a bee buzzing around the beer cart or a mosquito by the water hazards. Either way, I’ll be there in one form or another. Of course, that will comfort some while antagonizing others, but you know…it’s what I do and I have always done it my way. I’ll leave you with this; please don’t cry because I am gone. Instead be happy that I was here. Today I am happy and hopefully playing a round of golf with Bo and can finally say, it’s on a course my brother Dave has yet to play. Love forever, Steve.


Visitation - Monday: April 24, 2023 9:00 am - 9:45 am

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center
123 10th Street
Fargo, North Dakota 58103


Playing of Video Tribute: April 24, 2023 9:45 am

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center
123 10th Street
Fargo, North Dakota 58103


Celebration of Life - Monday: April 24, 2023 10:00 am

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center
123 10th Street
Fargo, North Dakota 58103


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Memories Timeline


  1. I can only imagine the joy Dr Agnes is feeling on the heavenly golf course and having time with his son.
    He touched our family as a kind and caring optometrist and then a mentor to our daughter through Optometry school.
    Such a good man that deserves peace.
    He will stay in our hearts forever.

  2. So sorry to hear of Dr. Agnes’ passing. He helped my daughter several years ago and was always, I mean always, so compassionate and patient, with both of us. I hope your memories bring you peace during this very difficult time.

  3. I was saddened to hear the news about Steve. I occasionally stopped by Steve’s practice to visit with him–whenever I was back in the Fargo area. My condolences to Steve’s family and extended family.

  4. So sorry for your families loss. Thoughts and prayers to the Agnes family. May Steve Rest in Peace.

  5. We were lucky to have met Dr. Agnes 5 years ago when he started treating our son. Dr. Agnes and Preston had a special bond, sometimes leading to more conversation than vision therapy. Preston always enjoyed visiting with him and still talks about their time spent together. We are forever grateful for the difference he made in both our boys lives.

    • Heather, thank you for your beautiful tribute. Your family and boys meant the world to us! God Bless! Nancy

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss 😓 I went to highschool with Steve and he was so nice. I’m sure his precious son and parents welcomed Steve and are rejoicing with his presence 🙏 Sending loving prayers to all of you, he will be missed 😥

  7. Mike and I are extremely sorry for this terrible loss. We will remember him fondly. What a joyous reunion with his son and Joyce and Filmore. Our love to all of you!❤️❤️

  8. I’m so sad to hear this. I still to this day appreciate how dedicated and hard working he was, and also so accommodating along with his staff! Our son Christopher did vision therapy with him! I hope he’s golfing every day on his favorite course.

  9. Many prayers to all of his family and friends. My family was lucky enough to meet Dr. Agnes, such a kind and wonderful man that helped so many. He will be greatly missed.

  10. He changed the lives of me and my three siblings when we went through eye therapy with him 25+ years ago. I very much enjoyed my conversations with him about sweat lodges and light therapy.

    My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all who loved him.

  11. Kathy Carolyn, David, and Jeff my heart breaks for you guys as you let your brother move on from this world. There are no words I can give you. I pray that God will give you peace and comfort. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  12. Dr. Agnes was so compassionate about his practice, and it was a blessing to have known him. Peace and comfort to his family and friends. Hoping Dr. Agnes is enjoying swinging his clubs!

  13. What a loss for family, friends and especially those children, like one of my own, whose lives were forever touched and improved by Dr. Agnes and his dedication to vision therapy. I had never heard of vision therapy until it was mentioned by family friends in the twin cities for our child who struggled mightily to read. I was surprised to learn that there was someone in our community that did this. And he was so dedicated to this mission. I remember his humanity. We were talking one day after my child had reach a point of tremendous improvement and he felt so sad for all the children who might not have the family resources for vision therapy, or a dedicated caretaker to follow through with all the daily exercises. He knew what impact being able to read meant for children. And we both speculated about how many children with behavioral problems might be the products of delayed eye development and the frustration of not being able to read as well as their peers. He literally changed my child’s life. Thanks Doc. What a good guy you were and good angel you now are.

  14. I have so many great memories of amateur basketball with Steve and the boys. I was lucky to get to know the family while in North Dakota. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends.

  15. Steve was one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve cared for. He treated us with dignity and could almost find the humor in any situation. Such an honor to have known him. Sadly he didn’t get to teach me about basketball as he had promised. Keeping all family and friends in my prayers. May we all be comforted by God.

  16. We are forever grateful and blessed to have had Dr. Agnes as our family optometrist. More so, through his expertise and passion to help others improve vision. My son did vision therapy with him and Nancy 24 years ago. Without this therapy, he would not be in the career he is in today. Both my son and daughter continued to get vision checks throughout middle, high school and college. Dr. Agnes was always kind, patient, knew how to give the right nudge to work through therapy, and truly cared about his patients.
    After reading Dr. Agnes obit, my son wrote,
    Yep, no building in his name but add up all the lives directly changed and how those people benefited the world more because of how he helped them…. Worth more than many buildings combined.
    Daughters response to brother,
    Wow! Deep! And so so true! You being one of them! He changed lives and those lives changed others!
    We are forever grateful. May his family find strength, comfort, and peace.

  17. Steve and I went to school in Rolla together. He was always so kind to everyone! So very sorry to hear about his passing! Hugs and prayers to

  18. Though I’m sad due to a loss of a dear friend, I could only smile in reading Steve’s self-penned obituary. His words of wisdom sprinkled with interludes of wit and humor stayed with him to his last days – and maybe beyond.
    Fond memories of Mayville State keep flooding back into my mind. I wish I could be there with the family to share a few old stories and to say goodbye.
    Blessings to the entire family as you celebrate Steve’s life.

  19. Memories of the Agnes family living in Rolette. Going to the same school– go Rolette Comets. Working with their mother Joyce. Working next door to Steven’s office in Rolla. God bless all of you in this time of grief. Hugs to you all.
    Phyllis Havig Abrahamson

  20. Sorry to hear about Steve’s passing. We go back to the Mayville State basketball days. A lot of great memories with him. You have my sympathy.

  21. It’s quite rare to enjoy reading an obituary of someone I didn’t even know. I am so glad I did. What a gift he was to this world and a class act to the very end. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this remarkable man’s farewell.

  22. We are grateful to have crossed paths with Dr. Agnes some 15+ years ago, when our daughter was experiencing difficulties in many aspects of her young life due to her inability to see correctly. Dr. Agnes’ compassion and expertise, sprinkled with humor, made the tough task of vision therapy a little less taxing. Thanks in no small part to Dr. Agnes, our daughter is now a medical professional herself – a Doctor of Physical Therapy. No buildings – or golf courses – in his name, but the countless lives he touched are a living tribute to his care and commitment to his patients. My family has been directly affected by Parkinson’s Disease, and it is an incredibly difficult journey for all involved. Our hearts to out to Dr. Agnes’ family, friends and colleagues. May the many fond memories you share bring comfort and peace.

  23. So very sorry to read of Steve’s passing. I graduated from high school with him and will never forget how nice he was to everyone! I heard of all the miraculous things he did to help kids read and have a better life. Rest in peace Steve-play lots of golf and enjoy your son!

  24. Greetings my basketball friend, I sure treasured our intense workouts, lifting weights, getting ready for those bball tourney’s! We watched everyone play yet we were determined to be on top of our game physically and mentally, shooting for hours after lifting. I’m glad we shared that bball mentality and thank you for the friendship. Travel well my friend on your journey home…until then, God bless.

  25. I’m so sorry that Steve has left us so soon.

    The world is a slightly darker place now, and no matter how many candles I light, that void will not be filled. I had the pleasure of knowing Steve for many years as a friend and colleague. We shared many patients and worked on a number of research projects together. Steve always had an infectious laugh, an inquisitive mind, and a care for his patients that anyone in any field of medical care would do well to try to emulate. His smile would light up any room.

    When I read his obituary, and I read it several times, every single time in my mind I could hear it in Steve’s voice. It was pure Steve, written with a wink and a grin.

    There is a reason he has passed from this world at this time. The reason for that surpasses my understanding, but I am completely sure our paths will cross again. I would have liked to have spent more time with him here. My life was enriched by the times we did spend together.

    Godspeed my friend, and when we meet again, let’s trade lines again from our beloved movie, The Outlaw Josie Wales.

  26. My sincere condolences to Steve’s family and friends, who will miss him so much. I was privileged to share in the care of many of his patients needing surgical eye care; they held him in high regard. So many benefited from his presence in this world. May he rest in eternal bliss.

  27. Steve and I were teammates on Simmons basketball team for many years. We were friends and I was pleased to see his talent used in the optometry field. I was privileged to know most of his family and play ball with most of his Mayville State University basketball teammates . He was a good man. I will miss him.

  28. Dr. Agnes and Nancy worked with my daughter Kim 26 yrs ago. With their help, Kim was able to learn to read and keep up with her classmates. I still appreciate the dedication and care provided. My condolences to his friends and family.

  29. Nancy and staff, as well as Dr. Agnes’ siblings, nieces and nephews, our deepest sympathy during this time in your life that has to be filled with mixed emotions. Sadness for a friend gone from this life, and joy in the life you shared here and that Dr. Agnes is free of the struggles he had recently faced.

    As others have noted and paid tribute, we were blessed by Dr. Agnes and his staff. They changed the life of our daughter, Madelyn. They believed in her, and we believed in their expertise and passion. The hours she spent tracking the swinging ball, wearing the patch, and “walking the plank” were exactly what The Doctor ordered! She came into their world defeated and dejected. She left with a renewed confidence and belief in herself, knowing and believing she could do it! Whatever it was, she could accomplish it!

    He was the Dr. Suess of Optometry. He renewed within kids, and adults, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”. Thousands are going to places they would have never accomplished, Dr. Agnes, because of you, your dedication, your leadership and your wisdom. We are forever grateful to you, Nancy, and the rest of your staff, for changing not only Madelyn’s life, but all the others that might not have the knowledge of your passing or the ability to put into words their gratefulness.

    Thank you for the positive impact you had on Madelyn, and our family!

    Andrea Haugen

  30. May you be with God in your time of sorrow. When I attended MSC I got to know a multitude of talented people. A few stood out as sure things, John Frappier was one and Steve was another. The way they handled themselves, their self assuredness, the way they were around other people. I knew John was destined for great things, and even though I didn’t know Steve well, I knew he was going to do many great things. He was so talented in such a wide range of areas. So bright and engaging, you could tell he was destined to do great things. My brother, Jens was another of these people, same life path, great in high school, great in college, did life changing work in colon rectal surgery, and life taken way too soon (Parkinson’s). When I read Steve’s life journey, I was reading Johns and Jens’ bios. at the same time. I thank God to have been touched by these blessed people. We were touched by Gods hands, through these talented gentlemen. Steve, as my brother used to tell me on the golf course, go for it every time, never lay up. We were blessed by your ever giving, but brief life.

  31. I am so sad to hear of Steve’s struggle with Parkinsons and passing away. I went to Mayville State with Steve, class of 1979 whoop whoop! He was a great basketball player and friend. I’m proud to hear of his career that touched so many lives. Eternity on the golf course with his son Bo is a dream come true. Steve’s memories will live on in your hearts forever.

  32. My condolences and prayers to Steve’s family and friends. He was my eye Dr for many years in Rolla and a great customer when I cooked/waitressed at the North 40 after high school, and a fellow alum of Mayville State. Go Comets!!. It sounds like he had a great life and lived it well. Rest in Peace Dr Agnes.

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