Martin Donald, “Don”, Larsen, 91, passed away peacefully Sunday, January 24, 2021, at Bethany Retirement Living in Fargo.
Born in Kindred to Roger and Esther (Soroos) Larsen, the oldest of three children, his family moved to Casselton in 1937 when Roger purchased the Federated Store. After graduating from Central Cass High School in 1947, Don attended the University of North Dakota where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, completed a degree in accounting and developed a love of UND ice hockey.
Upon graduation from UND, he earned a commission in the US Air Force and was stationed at Mountain Home, Idaho. Due to the signing of Korean War armistice agreement, Don narrowly escaped deployment and later received a promotion to Captain upon discharge. He again fulfilled his duty to his country by later serving in the honor guard at many military funerals.
In 1958, he married Ardeth Gunnarson with whom he had three daughters, Gwen Ellen, Ellyce Ann and Lynnette Marie. As a young man, and later with his family, many summers were spent at the family cabins at Big Floyd Lake. He shared his love of the outdoors traveling throughout the US and Canada including many memorable camping trips in “the van.”
As the owner of the Federated Store in Casselton, Don was well-known throughout the area. In addition, he owned a Federated Store in Hawley, MN, and, with his brother Doug, co-owned Ben Franklin stores in Fargo, Moorhead and Detroit Lakes. He retired from the retail business in 1991 but would, for many years, meet former customers eager to share their memories of the shopping at the Federated.
Serving his community was one of Don’s greatest joys. He served as a member of the Casselton School Board, Park District, City Council, Cemetery Board, and Fire Department. Over the years, his projects in Casselton included planting hundreds of flowers and trees, establishing Governors Park and creating a walking path around “the Res.” He was committed to the establishment of the Casselton Community Medical Center which has provided medical services to the community and served as its Treasurer for 50 years. He was a long-time member of Martin’s Lutheran Church and taught Sunday School for years. He served on the Board of Bethany (Homes) Retirement Living and was instrumental in the development of Casselwood Retirement Center. Don received the Casselton Community Club Community Service Award, the North Dakota League of Cities’ Hometown Hero Award and North Dakota Forest Service “Citizen Forester of the Year.” In 2018, he was recognized by the Dakota Medical Foundation with “The Don” Award as a lifelong leader in the community, supporting charitable causes and championing Giving Hearts Day. Concordia College honored Don and his wife with the Soli Deo Gloria award.
Some of his greatest passions were stock market investing, gardening and travel, visiting over 60 countries on 5 continents. His most memorable trips included visiting his ancestral home in Norway, attending a traditional funeral on an Indonesian island, having dinner in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and kneeling on the beaches of Normandy. Not content just visiting the sights, Don loved seeing how people around the world lived.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ardeth, and is survived by his daughters, Gwen (Scott) Dunn, Ellyce (Timothy) Hayes and Lynnette Larsen (Peter Spreadborough); brother, R. Douglas (Sally) Larsen of Fargo and sister, Lynda (Joe) Dolejs, of Burnsville, MN; five grandchildren, Mark Hayes, Adam Hayes, Paige (Marcus) Walden-Johnson, Hattie Walden (Ryan Dorsey) and Regan Walden (Luke Doeding), and two great-grandchildren, Eli Doeding and Kai Walden-Johnson.
A family service was held Friday, January 29, at Martin’s Lutheran Church in Casselton followed by a military burial at the Casselton Cemetery. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.
Memorials can be sent to Dakota Medical Foundation, M. Donald Larsen Family Fund, for Giving Hearts Day (February 11, 2021) gifts and to Martin’s Lutheran Church for the landscaping fund.
The family wishes to thank the Fargo Forum for the decades of reading pleasure that he enjoyed until the very end.
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Public Visitation: Friday, January 29, 2021 from 2 to 4 PM at Martin’s Lutheran Church, Casselton followed by burial at the Casselton Cemetery with military rites. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. (Masks and Social Distancing are requested)
West Funeral Home & Life Tribute Center
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