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George A. Sinner

May 29, 1928 - March 09, 2018

7:00 PM Prayer Service Thursday with Visitation 5:30 to 7:00 PM

March 15, 2018

Nativity Catholic Church

10:00 AM Friday Funeral Mass

March 16, 2018

Nativity Catholic Church


Boulger Funeral Home

George A. Sinner

May 29, 1928 - March 09, 2018


George Albert Sinner, 89, of Fargo, North Dakota, passed away peacefully March 9, 2018, at Eventide Fargo after an abundant, joyful, and rewarding life.

George “Bud” was a loving, smart, kind, funny, and sensitive man of deep, unwavering faith who was adored by so many, especially his family. He was immensely proud of his wife, Janie, and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and he welcomed with open arms all the spouses who joined the family. He loved holding babies whenever they came to visit, laying them on his knees and singing to them. His love went far beyond his family; he loved children of all ages and being around people in general. He dedicated his life to caring for his family and serving others.

Born in Fargo on May 29, 1928, to Albert F. and Katherine (Wild) Sinner, Bud grew up in Casselton, ND, working on the family farm. He attended Casselton schools and seminary at St. John’s Preparatory School (MN), and graduated from St. John’s University with a philosophy degree. He had plans to become a priest but decided he wanted to marry and have a family. Not long after, he met Elizabeth Jane Baute of Lebanon, KY. While serving in the North Dakota Air National Guard, he was activated by the Air Force to Valdosta, GA, where he and Janie were married August 10, 1951. When his service was completed, they made their home in Casselton, where George joined his father Albert, beloved brother Bill, and brother-in-law Ellery Bresnahan, in forming the family farm partnership, SB&B. Bud and Janie raised their 10 children and shared exciting years watching them learn and grow. They moved to Bismarck in 1984 when Bud was elected governor, then to Fargo in 1992.

He began his political career with two terms in the North Dakota Senate from 1963-1966. He served on the Board of Higher Education in the early 70s, was chairman of the Sugar Beet Growers Association 1975-1979, and was instrumental in creating the Northern Crops Institute. He was elected again in 1982 to the North Dakota House of Representatives and, in November 1984, was elected North Dakota’s 29th governor. After he left office in 1992, he joined American Crystal Sugar as Vice President of Government Affairs and retired in 1995.

Bud was honored to serve as governor, and he worked tirelessly to improve life for all. With every decision he made, he did what he believed to be the right thing, regardless of the political consequences. He truly enjoyed working with his devoted staff; he usually came into the office singing and was always ready with a hug for anyone who needed one. He was proud of his accomplishments but always gave credit where it was due. He was also very proud to have been adopted into the Lakota Sioux tribe as an honorary member.

He especially treasured family time at the lake cabin. He loved to fish with family and friends, then clean their catch on his homemade, golf-cart-converted, fish-cleaning table — one of his many inventions. He had a farmer’s fix-it ingenuity and was a master at finding solutions to problems. Among his inventions were a portable, adjustable basketball stand; a contraption for rolling the dock in and out; a Christmas tree tray; and a toboggan-pulling device for the pickup. He saved all bolts, nails, screws, scrap containers, rope, and rubber in case they could be reused. At his 80th birthday celebration, every gift he received was made out of duct tape. He loved Ole and Lena jokes, poetry, Cribbage, and crossword puzzles, and he was a big fan of watching many area sports teams. For years, he and his sons, grandsons, and close friends enjoyed an annual hunting trip. He loved playing golf with his best friend, Ellery; another close friend, Chuck Fritz; and his family. He loved to sing, and he had a deep spirituality and love of God that guided him in his daily life.

But his greatest love was his bride of 66 years. At Eventide his last months, he waited anxiously every day to see Janie come in, and then his face and eyes lit up! Their undying love for each other was delightful to witness.

He will be so greatly missed.

Survivors include his wife, Janie; his children, Bob (Lynette), Fargo; George (Margaret), Fargo; Betsy Witt (Tom), Duluth, MN; Marty Boeckel (Craig), Bismarck, ND; Paula Sutherland, Woodbury, MN; Mary Jo Savageau (John), Bismarck, ND; Jim (Lindie), Nelson, New Zealand; Jerry (Clare), Brainerd, MN; Joe (Tracy), Cody, WY; Eric, Harwood, ND; 27 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, A. Jane Sinner, Casselton, ND; and brother-in-law, Ellery Bresnahan, Casselton, ND. He is preceded in death by his brothers, William and Richard (Fr. Dick); his sister, Jeanne Bresnahan; and his son-in-law, Fred Sutherland.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, March 16, at Nativity Church of Fargo. Prayer service will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Nativity Church with visitation starting at 5:30 p.m. Arrangements are being handled by Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo. Burial will be in Casselton, ND, at a private ceremony.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials to Churches United for the Homeless in Moorhead, MN; the New Life Center in Fargo.


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62 responses to “George Sinner”

  1. larry pietsch says:

    I am so sorry to of GEORGE passing away, he was a good friend. my prayers are with the family.

  2. Rita simonson says:

    Margaret, George and all family, so sorry. He was quite a man and will be missed by many. What a rough rider, a true North Dakotan.

  3. Steve Scheel says:

    George lived a good life, and all who knew him and spent any time with he and Jane will remember his common sense, his compassion, his wit, and his ever present smile. George was special.

  4. Alan and Fran Dexter says:

    We were privileged to know George Sinner. Alan worked with him on sugarbeet production and sugarbeet issues. We extend our sympathy to his family upon his death.
    Alan and Fran Dexter, Fargo

  5. Jody Sinner Hensley and Lester, Jordan & Benedict says:

    Peace to Aunt Janie and Bob, George, Betsy, Marty, Paula, Mary Jo, Jim, Jerry, Joe and Eric. We carry you in our hearts and thoughts during this time of loss, remembrance and celebration of our amazing Uncle Bud and a life so well lived.

  6. Margie Sinner says:

    Uncle Bud is gone. Wow! My thoughts are with Aunt Janie and all the family. Love to everyone. Margie

  7. Chuck, Sara, Savannah, and India Fritz says:

    We are thinking of you guys and sending prayers you way. Last night Savannah texted us saying she had a dream Bud and Grandma Phyllis were having tea together in Heaven….We’ll miss him.

  8. Duncan McCausland says:

    What sad news – a true gentleman and a proud and committed servant of North Dakota and its people. May he rest in peace.

  9. Jane (Miller) Junkert says:

    George Sinner was a wonderful man with a beautiful heart. Peace be to his memory…may his family feel his love always.

  10. Tom Larson says:

    George Sinner was a special kind of person. When you met him he made you feel like a comfortable old friend. My father, Duane Larson, was a friend who’s friendship went back to those early 1950’s Air Force days and I could see that there was a mutual respect by both. He always had the best for North Dakota, his friends and his family in mind. I’m sure his comforting demeanor and friendly wit is strongly appreciated in the here after as it was on earth. May he rest in peace with his Father above!

  11. Dennis and Teri Hall Smith says:

    Good men like Bud Sinner don’t come along often enough. He served our state with respect and honesty and was truly a man of the people. Thank you so much for your great service.

  12. Dr. Ernest Schanilec says:

    Bud was a great man. He stood tall for everyone

  13. Dave and Bernie Levi says:

    Gov. Sinner was a very special person with a good heart. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  14. Terry & Rhonda Becker says:

    Our hearts are saddened at the passing of such a special & kind friend! We’ve had the privilege of knowing Bud & Janie & they are the true meaning of pure LoVe! Every conversation with Bud left a smile on your face! He will be missed!

  15. Mark G Schneider says:

    The Schneider family had a long and treasured friendship with Bud. So many kindnesses and so much compassion and caring. Of all the many wonderful memories we have of Bud, one in particular, I think, exemplifies what Bud meant to so many of the people whose lives he touched. My brother John and Bud served in the legislature in 1983 and worked closely together when Bud became governor and John floor leader in the House. Years later, when John was going through the throes of terminal brain cancer, Bud, our two-term governor and the friend of presidents, was chopping firewood and bringing it to John’s home for his comfort. The humility, compassion and honor of the man was inspiring. We know that this is just one example of hundreds of acts of charity this wonderful man so freely and naturly gave during his amazing life. Our condolences to Janie and Bud’s extended family

  16. Kristina Ahern says:

    Betsy….my deepest sympathies to you and your family. Although I did not have the privilege of knowing your father, I am certain that many of his wonderful qualities exist in you. You are held in my heart.

  17. Margie Exner-Wieszcholek says:

    I’m so sorry to read of Bud’s passing. Jane, I have fond memories of how you both made me feel so welcomed into your home and cabin. The Exners and Sinners had great fun together. My condolences to each of you. Hugs.

  18. Annetta M Sutton says:

    Governor George Sinner, one of the best human beings to ever hold public office. A man of integrity, humor, compassion, intellect and he loved everyone. Well, almost everyone. When I was privileged to work with him on issues of social justice, it was a joy. Never a bigoted bone in his body, I loved the way he saw all people as human beings. In particular, his advocacy for our Native and immigrant people, George Sinner stood up, and stood for, treating all people with dignity. RIP, Good and Faithful Servant.You were a treasurer.

  19. Eileen C. Tronnes Nelson, Grand Forks, ND says:

    Rest in Peace!

  20. Meg Foss says:

    Please accept my sympathy and good wishes. Bud was a great man and loved by many.

  21. Nancy & Kevin Willis says:

    Our deepest condolences to Mary Jo, Marty and all of the Sinner family. Nancy knew George Sinner as Governor, but also as Mary Jo’s and Marty’s Dad and always thought he was such a great person. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers

  22. Jim Broten says:

    My sympathies to the Sinner Family. He lived and lead by example what was required to be a to be a true North Dakotan for his family his state and his country.

  23. Tim Mathern says:

    So what does a “man for all seasons” look like today? George Sinner for sure! We will take what you have taught us and move forward. Peace to his wonderful family.

  24. Kelly Murray says:

    My deepest sympathy… Thoughts and prayers to family and friends

  25. Chuck, Cathy & Carlee Bartholomay says:

    Dear Jane and family; My family and I didn’t really get to know George until after we moved to Bismarck even though I grew up in Casselton. My work at KFYR-TV put me in contact with George a lot. But what made George and you Jane stand out the most was each time we would see you in Bismarck you always asked us about our daughter, Carlee and how she was doing with her disability. We never talked politics, world events, just family. And that’s what made George, and you Jane so special. I only called one man Governor, not because of his stance for political issues, but how he treated people. It was a title that came after husband, father, grandfather. George, you will be missed by all of us

  26. Ron and Neva Carlisle says:

    Keeping you and your family in our thoughs and prayers.

  27. Jerry Caulfield says:

    Rest in peace George -It was an honor knowing you and thank you for all of your great accomplishments.

  28. Nancy Jordheim says:

    Jane and family – I know that you will miss that beloved twinkle in the eye, that sly way of ‘getting his way’, and that ever-present sense of love and care. So will all of the rest of us. Jane, you know this story, I tell it again for your kids. When I was in college, Bud was in the legislature. We were on opposite side of the ‘colleges should be on the quarter system/semester system. As a college student(s) there was a real-world sense of knowing what was best on campus. 🙂 At this time the use of quarters would prevail. However; with that ever knowing and caring sense of fun I got a shoulder hug and the comment, “…I will probably be here longer than you”. As you know he ultimately he did win that and North Dakota moved to semesters. He always remembered that cocky college kid and always thought it was fun that our lives crossed over many more times. As for me, I could not be happier than to have known your father. He encouraged believing in a cause and demonstrating commitment. Equally special is that very bright and shining light that is your mother, Jane. Hugs to you all as you celebrate a life well lived. HE WAS THE REAL DEAL!

  29. Pat and Duane Berglund says:

    Governor Sinner was an amazing man. My (Pat’s) closest encounters with him were through the Northern Crops Institute where he was proud to have been the “first” Chairman of the Northern Crops Council, NCI’s governing board. In my role as Director, George kept in touch with me, often reminding me of the intent in the founding of NCI. We also interacted with him and Jane at Nativity Church in Fargo. He was truly a good man — we have lost one of a kind. Our sincere sympathies to Jane and the family and all those who were near and dear to George.

  30. Mary (Runck) Nicholas says:

    Betsy, I’m sorry for your loss. Your dad was such a nice man, so personable and gracious.
    You, your mom, and your families are all in my prayers.

  31. Pam Schorsch says:

    Dear Marty and All-

    I am so sorry to read about your Dad. What a ND treasure! He leaves a great personal and professional legacy to cherish.

    Take care of each other.

    Pam Schorsch

  32. Lloyd and Vonnie Fosse says:

    Thoughts and prayers to the family!

  33. Karl Frigaard says:

    George when he was governor of North Dakota took me aside once when I was in Bismarck when I was struggling on a project and told me what it takes to be a public servant. I think of what he told me everytime
    I have some thing I am struggling on a project because of what he taught me about being a public servant and God’s servant and it brings me peace. His wisdom was very great and his experience was so helpful all coming from a very humble man. I will miss Bud and his wisdom and his knowledge. God Bless You Sinner Family. You are in my prayers. I am sorry for your great loss.

  34. Mark Beithon says:

    Sending heartfelt sympathies to the entire Sinner family, from the Beithon family. I have lots of great memories of our times spent with the Sinners, especially of Bud with his warm, compassionate personality. He was an amazing man and a great Governor. We are so proud to have known him. Bud and Janie were the only people we knew that had more kids than my parents…and they did such a great job of raising them all so well. Bud’s legacy will live on for many, many years.

  35. Don Nistler says:

    What a great man George was. He was great for our state. May God bless his family at this time

  36. Bill Satterfield says:

    Dear Jane and Family: A Mighty Oak Has Fallen, and your friends in Alabama join you in bittersweet celebration of the life of a truly great but humble public servant. Of course, we also cherish the memories of many successful wing shooting days afield, followed by the inevitable yarn spinning evenings at Dave’s farm by our all time favorite story telling Governor. Much love to each of you, Carolyn and Bill

  37. David & Joann Cross says:

    Paula & Family, Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel about your dad’s death. Reading the article in the paper, we can tell that he was indeed an amazing man. May all your loving memories comfort you and keep him alive in your hearts. Someone so special will never be forgotten. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with you and your family during this difficult time. Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss.

  38. Stephen Wheat says:

    Cascading memories have been coursing through my mind ever since I heard Uncle Bud has moved on. So many memories. What a spirit. My thoughts are with Janie and family. I want to sing, Oh Happy Day.

  39. Phil Sinner says:

    My condolences. I have so many fond memories of growing up around “Uncle” Bud. Always a smile and was so good to my sister Julie.

  40. Monsignor Timothy McGee says:

    My sincere sympathy to the Sinner Family on the death of Bud Sinner. I will miss him worshipping with us at Holy Rosary in Detroit Lakes in the summer months. He always had time to chat after Mass. He and my father served together on the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education years ago and my dad always told me that George was a very smart and down to earth man. Please know that you are in my prayers in the days to come.

  41. Pemina Yellow Bird says:

    Sincere condolences to all the family in your loss of this very good man. Early in his term as Governor he gave his unwavering support to North Dakota’s Tribal Nations as we worked to repatriate and rebury our ancestors held by the State Historical Society. He will always be remembered as a true leader who cared about everyone in our state. I like to think of our ancestors greeting him as he makes his way Home, and singing honor songs of unearthly beauty to thank him for all he did for us. May all who loved him be comforted by their many loving memories of him, and may our Creator bless his memory.

  42. Cecelia Corniea Mundt says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. George always had a hug for me any time that we met. He touched so many people during his lifetime with his kindness. He will truly be missed.

  43. Becky Lommen says:

    So sorry to hear of Bud’s passing. He was a very compassionate and caring man. May the many memories warm your heart at this time. Thanks you for for sharing your husband and dad with so many of us! Fond memories!

  44. Robert Huether says:

    I have always had great respect for Bud.His leadership for ND was at the top of his to do list.He never wavered from his goals. Thanks Bud for your friendship.

  45. Jaime Jonas Pinkam says:

    Sympathies to the family. My thoughts are with you.

  46. Frank Dooley says:

    To me Bud Sinner was an inspiration. I would not have accomplished what I have in my life without his support, guidance, and encouragement. He taught me the meaning of integrity, inquiry, gratitude, humility, friendship, service, and much more. I for one loved (and share) his dry sense of humor. Godspeed

    Frank Dooley

  47. Rick and Virginia Johnson says:

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jane and all the family. I will always remember Bud’s great sense of humor and how he could tell a joke. And, after awhile, even though I had heard most of them before, they would still make me laugh because he so enjoyed telling them.
    He was such a warm, thoughtful and gracious man, and he made such a difference in his State and community. He will be missed forever.

  48. Jim Maxson says:

    To the Sinner family: It was an honor to have served in the ND State Senate while your husband/father/grandfather was the Governor. Times were tough and he rose to the occasion. He was 100% motivated by his conscience and what was best for others. Of ALL the people I have dealt with in government at any level, no one is held as dear to me as him. He was a terrific role model, as a man, as a leader and a friend. That all are created equal was not a mere sound bite to him. It was his north star. He was the “Man For All Seasons” in the image of Sir. Thomas More. He was in Bismarck for all the right reasons. I not only respected and admired him, I loved him.

  49. Marsha, Mary Jo and Bob Bergman says:

    We will always remember the kindness shown to our parents during the years of knowing Bud and Janie. Bud was an inspiration for all having the privilege to know him…..Rest in peace, Bud……..

  50. Barry Nelson says:

    Bud was such a leader of heart, compassion, and wisdom. Not only was he a statesman, but he was a friend of so many. I was so privileged to work with the Governor in the early 2000’s in building a community that was intent on supporting and caring for all youth. Such dedication, such commitment and caring, such a wit. The world is emptier and darker with his passing, but his legacy provides a light and a way for those of us left behind. Well, done, George!

  51. David J. Hilde says:

    We were privileged to know George when he was Vice President of Government Affairs with American Crystal Sugar Co,. I was General Agronomist at that time. We worked on some projects together. He was a good friend colleague. I appreciated his sense of humor. He made working fun!
    Dave & Lori Hilde

  52. Mary Jendro says:

    I love the picture you chose! It reflects the kind, happy guy he was. He was accomplished many ways but none more than father and husband. Every time I ran into him over the years he always greeted me with a hug and smile like it was the seventies.
    I know you have great memories and know his faith was strong. May he Rest In Peace and peace to all of you.

  53. Steve and Donna Schneider says:

    A great Governor and a better man. We will miss you Bud.

  54. Mary Maixner says:

    George was quite the man. I knew more about George and I had never met the man. It was comments that you always hoped to hear. My Dad and George would visit about farming and of course “politics” and sometimes just to say hello. My son Ben talked about how George was going to be a priest. Ben and Pat got the opportunity to hunt pheasant with George and some of the boys out in southwestern ND, My sons said he even asked us to go with them to hunt by Mott/Regent area. George made a huge impression on my sons because he was so very kind. To the Sinner Family, my deepest sympathy.

  55. Craig Larson says:

    I was saddened to hear of George’s passing. His life works made such a positive impact on so many. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  56. Susan Spooner says:

    Your dad was the best CYO teacher – EVER – and we’d laugh about the religion he taught me (or tried) way back then. He was a truly good guy with a great sense of humor and I’ll miss him.

  57. Kristin Syverson says:

    Bud’s death was disheartening to hear. I pray for peace, comfort and blessings for the family as they go through the mourning process. Bud was a good man and always kind when I would come over to his house with his son. He made you feel like you are home. Rest in Peace Bud.

  58. Brenda martinson says:

    To the family of George , I thank you for being so kind to my daughter Cheree, may she and George watch the tree they planted together, grow from heaven . My prayers, Brenda martinson

  59. Julie Burgum says:

    Bud loved the community of Casselton and it’s people. We all remember his smile, friendly greeting and sincere interest in each person he spoke with. May he Rest In Peace in his heavenly home.

  60. Fr. Duane Pribula says:

    In his personal and public life, George or “Bud” or “One Road” (the Lakota Sioux name given him as a member of their family) was a tender-hearted husband, a fun-loving father/parent and grandparent, a thoughtful legislator, a creative and courageous governor and a trusted colleague. George was an admired friend, an example of public service, and a prayerful companion during public worship. His role as husband, father, friend and public servant was grounded in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and the Catholic Benedictine tradition which shaped him in the mantra: Ora et Labora (prayer and work). Bud loved North Dakota and its people. May Christ Jesus welcome George or “Governor” into the Glory and Joy and Music of the delights of Heaven!

  61. David Deutsch says:

    I was sorry to hear of Governor Sinner’s passing. North Dakota and our world are poorer for the loss. He was an inspirational leader, with his accomplishments in the legislature, the North Dakota Board of Higher Education (the Tri-College University and the Northern Crops Institute), and as an outstanding governor. His philosophy, wisdom and gentle kindness made him a valued friend. Respect and admiration to him and to Jane for their continuing reflections in their outstanding and accomplished family.

  62. Jim Schumacher says:

    I first met Bud when I arrived at St John’s in 1945 , before the school year started, but an early beginning (for the Prep School football program). We became close friends, & that friendship deepened over the years, as we shared many interests and goals. I treasured our closeness – we had similar ideals, and worked together often to achieve them. We were both students for the Catholic priesthood then, and although Bud left that program, he continued working to make his world a better place for all; I still think that he accomplished that by his life. I am a better person for having known Bud, & I suspect that is true for many others. I extend my prayerful sympathies for Janie & others who loved him &/or worked with him to make the world a place that encouraged people to become all that they can be.

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