Merwyn Larsen

Merwyn L. Larsen, 82, Bismarck, formerly of Flaxton, passed away Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, at Sanford Health, Bismarck, after struggling with numerous health issues.

Merwyn LeRoy Larsen was born to Alfred and Sarah (Anderson) Larsen on Sept. 11, 1931, at rural Flaxton, baptized in the Ebenezer Lutheran Church and confirmed in the United Lutheran Church, both of Flaxton.

Merwyn attended the Richland Township rural school and graduated from Flaxton High School in 1950. He attended Wahpeton State School of Science and then Hansen Auto in Fargo in 1955-1956. He was a charter member of the Go-Getters 4-H Club and served as an officer and a leader for many years. He was president of the Burke County 4-H Council and served as a 4-H Camp counselor. As a teenager, Merwyn served as the poultry superintendent at the Burke County Fair.

Merwyn joined the U.S. Marine Corps on March 19, 1952, completed basic training at San Diego and received the Expert Marksmanship Medal. He then served as a mechanic at the Barstow Marine Corps Base (NEBO) at Barstow, Calif. During the Korean Conflict, Merwyn served with the 3rd Marine Division in Japan until March 1954. Merwyn was very proud of his service as a Marine.

He married his high school sweetheart, Bernice Cron, on Nov. 30, 1952, at United Lutheran Church in Flaxton. They lived in Daggatt, Calif., until Merwyn left for Japan. After his honorable discharge, Merwyn and Bernice farmed with his father and brother, Dwain. They raised small grains, beef and dairy cattle.

In 1958, Merwyn and Dwain wired the homes for telephones in Burke County and Grenora and a year later in Garretson, S.D. The brothers also operated the Texaco Station in Flaxton for several years. He worked in the oil fields for Quality Construction and one winter worked on an oil rig.

The brothers also organized the Burke County Hi-Riders saddle club. The club went on several trail rides in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. They also organized the Tri-County car racing club and Merwyn was one of the drivers.

Merwyn sang with a family quartet and served as an emcee for many events and even performed as a clown for different parades and activities.

He was commander of American Legion Post 161, Flaxton, and served as sergeant of arms for many years. Both Merwyn and Bernice selected the Memorial Day speakers for 26 years and often hosted them in their home. Most recently, Merwyn was a member of the American Legion, Post 0035, Lignite.

As a member of United Lutheran Church, Merwyn sang with the choir, was a Sunday school teacher, Sunday school superintendent and also served on the church council. Plus he served on the United Lutheran Cemetery Board (formerly the Ebenezer Cemetery located near the family farm). He was currently a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Bowbells.

Active in the community, Merwyn was a director and manager of the Burke County Fair from 1958 to 1968. Merwyn and his brother, Dwain, served as the electrician for the fair for many years. He was elected to the N.D. State Fair Board in 1975, a position he proudly held for nine years and was also a member of the Rocky Mountain Fair Association. Additional organizations he belonged to included the Burke County Soil Conservation, the state Soil Conservation Advisory Board, the Burke County Weed Board, the Flaxton School Board, PTO, Flaxton Bicentennial Committee, the Flaxton Fire Department and the Richland Township Board.

He was president of the Burke County Historical Board and on the committee to include the Flaxton Hotel on the National Register of Historic Places.

Merwyn did construction and cement work all over Burke County, built all the buildings on the farm with the help of family and friends, including his house and barn. Every construction project included his unique touch.

The family hosted Evelyn Piper, an IFYE (International Farm Youth Exchange) from Tasmania, Australia, in 1967 and Maki Matsuzaki from Japan in 1974 for the 4-H LABO program. He was excited to be featured on the Prairie Farm Report after building a round flax straw barn.

Merwyn was injured in a farm accident in 1991 and eventually quit farming. Merwyn and Bernice then began a craft business called “Wood’N Things,” attending craft shows all over North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota until retiring in 2006. Merwyn and Bernice were partners in all their many ventures. In 2011, they moved to Bismarck.

Merwyn is survived by his loving family including his wife of 60 years, Bernice; sons, Steve (Cyndi) of Portal, Vern, of Bismarck, and Alvin, of Flaxton; daughters, Maxine (Michael) Schmidt, of Fargo, and Janie (Todd) Auen, of Dickinson. His grandchildren include Hope (Jonas) Scheile, Sarah (Chris) Stork, April and Hillary Larsen, all of Bismarck, Matthew and Dylan Auen of Kirkland, Wash., Andy and Erica Schmidt, of Fargo, Dina (Daryn) Edwards and Taryn (Michael) Bergstrom, of Ray, and his great-grandchildren are Brooklyn Edwards, Blake and Grady Bergstrom, all of Ray. His twin sisters, Marlene (Dale) Decker of Jamestown and Marlys (Kenneth) Radenz of Eagan, Minn., plus many cousins, nieces and nephews also survive.

He was preceded in death by: his parents, Alfred and Sarah; his brother, Dwain, daughter-in-law, Becky Larsen; and grandson, Kjell Undjhem.

Merwyn loved his children and grandchildren and enjoyed doing things for them. He was proud of his German shepherd dogs and Friendly, a favorite dairy cow. Music was an important part of his life, and he also enjoyed hunting, traveling, building and repairing. He enjoyed the craft shows and visiting with the many people he met throughout the years.

Funeral: Monday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m., at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Bowbells.

Interment: United Lutheran Cemetery, rural Flaxton.

Visitation: Today, Sunday, from 3 to 5 p.m., at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Kenmare.

Family requests memorials to the Flaxton Memorial Hall or the United Lutheran Cemetery.

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