Richard Alton “Dick” Widseth, 89, of Crookston, MN, passed away early Friday morning, October 15, 2021, with family at his side.
Dick was born in Gonvick, MN, on August 10, 1932, the son of Albert and Emily (Peterson) Widseth. He was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith, and grew up in Gonvick and McIntosh, MN, before following in the footsteps of his father and five uncles by attending high school at the Northwest School of Agriculture, the forerunner of today’s University of Minnesota Crookston campus. The UMC football field is named after his favorite uncle, Ed Widseth, an All-American for the U of M Gophers who played professionally for the New York Giants, where he was an All-Pro and 1938 MVP of the league. Dick played football and basketball for the Aggies, graduating from the Northwest School with the Class of 1949. It was there that he met the love of his life and future bride, Clarice Mae Thureen, a beautiful young lady from East Grand Forks, MN.
Dick enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where he entered the School of Engineering, played Sioux football, and was captain of the team during his senior year. He became an excellent amateur pilot through training he received in the University’s ROTC program and was named Top Cadet in his class. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from UND in 1954. Dick was united in marriage to his sweetheart, Clarice, on August 23, 1953, in the Bethesda Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks. Through the coming years, their union would be blessed by the births of Cynthia, Tamra, Jennifer, Jeffrey, and Gregory. Dick’s career as a construction and consulting engineer took him, Clarice, and their growing family around northwest Minnesota, and then to Mason City, IA, as City Engineer. In 1965, he returned to Crookston as City Engineer before becoming manager of the Crookston branch of Webster, Foster, and Weston, a Grand Forks consulting engineering firm. In 1975, he started his own engineering firm with Howard Smith and Donald Nolting. As founding partner and president of Widseth Smith Nolting & Associates, Inc., he led a design and consulting firm that grew to include 200 employees and 9 offices across Minnesota and North Dakota. He took particular pride in the design of a new water system for the City of Crookston, which used simple gravity to bring water from the aquifer 20 miles east of town—a system that serves the city to this day. In 1986, he helped develop and became general manager of American Aerostar Corp., a Danish wind energy company, eventually leading the reorganization of that entity into Phoenix Industries. Following his retirement and Clarice’s passing on November 4, 1996, Dick moved to Bemidji to work part-time for Kraus-Anderson Construction, before returning to Crookston in 2012.
Dick and Clarice cherished their relationship with the Northwest School where they met, and every June found them attending annual alumni gatherings and hosting old friends in their home. For 3 years, Dick served as president of the NWSA Alumni Association, where he helped start the Heritage Fund and was involved in the renovation of the White House Alumni Center. In 2014, he was named NWSA’s Top Aggie, the highest honor bestowed by the association to recognize alumni who have displayed exemplary commitment and service to community, church, education, family, or in their occupational field. He was a longtime member of Trinity Lutheran Church, was active in the American Society of Professional Engineers, Rotary Club, and Chamber of Commerce, and served as President of Crookston Jobs. He and Clarice were active volunteers in the community, involved in numerous volunteer organizations and charitable and public service events. Recognizing their history of service, in 1985 the City of Crookston named them Volunteers of the Year.
Dick was an avid hunter and fisherman. Whatever the season–deer, duck, pheasant, grouse, walleye and northern, or sunfishing with the grandkids—he could be found among family and friends with gun or fishing pole in hand. He was renowned for his cooking ability, particularly the wild game feeds hosted by him and friends for a large and very appreciative gathering. His weekly breakfasts of beer pancakes, waffles, side pork, and venison were popular with friends and family. Dick will be very lovingly remembered and sadly missed by all who were part of his life.
Dick leaves his 5 children: Cynthia and Steven Saboe of Washington, DC, Tamra Widseth Decker of Edina, MN, Jennifer Widseth-Coppel and Jay Coppel of Savage, MN, Jeffrey and Kristi Widseth of Fosston, MN, and Gregory and Nanette Widseth of Crookston, MN; 9 living grandchildren: Ashley and Andrew Ng, Leigha and Jeremy Johnson, Jessica and James Rue, Jayme and Peter Yao, Carissa Widseth, Brittany and Ryan Mandelbaum, Luke Widseth, Jake Widseth, and Samuel Widseth; 4 great-grandchildren: Sawyer Johnson, Maguire Johnson, Logan Rue, and Hudson Ng; extended family, and many friends. In addition to Clarice, Dick’s beloved wife and partner for over 43 years, and best friend since high school, he is preceded in death by a dear grandson, Benjamin Widseth; his parents, Albert and Emily Widseth; and brother, Dean Widseth. Blessed be the memory of Richard Alton Widseth.
The funeral service celebrating the life of Dick Widseth will be held at 2:00 p.m., Friday, October 29, 2021, in the Trinity Lutheran Church, Crookston, MN, with The Rev. Greg Isaacson, officiating. Visitation will be for the hour prior to the service. The funeral will be live-streamed by going to the bottom of Dick’s obituary page at www.stenshoelhouske.com 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start and clicking on the prompt to view. A graveside service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, October 30th, in the United Lutheran Cemetery near Berner, MN, located 6 miles north of Gonvick, MN, on County Hwy 7.
Online registry and messages of condolence may be made at www.stenshoelhouske.com