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Published January 14, 2014, 12:00 AM

R.F. “Tod” Gunkelman, Jr.

July 22, 1923 - Jan. 12, 2014

Ralph Frank “Tod” Gunkelman, Jr. died at Bethany on University in Fargo, North Dakota on Sunday, January 12, 2014, surrounded by his loving family and in the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley following complications from a head injury sustained in 2008.

R.F. “Tod” Gunkelman, Jr.

July 22, 1923 - Jan. 12, 2014

Ralph Frank “Tod” Gunkelman, Jr. died at Bethany on University in Fargo, North Dakota on Sunday, January 12, 2014, surrounded by his loving family and in the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley following complications from a head injury sustained in 2008.

Ralph Frank Gunkelman, Jr. was born in Fargo, ND on July 22, 1923, the fifth oldest child of the nine children of Ralph Frank and Ada Lockhart Gunkelman. Nicknamed “Toddles” by his older brothers, the nickname of Tod stayed with him throughout his life. He was educated in Fargo public schools and graduated in 1941 from Fargo Central High School, then attended North Dakota State University, with an interruption for time serving as a pilot in World War II, and graduated with a B.S. in Agronomy and voted as the "Outstanding Senior" of the class of 1947. He married M. Dolores (Do) Shanks on August 23, 1947 and together they raised a family of six children, as well as hosting seven foreign exchange students. When Tod returned from the military service, he joined his father’s company, R.F. Gunkelman & Sons, in Fargo where he became the vice president of Bird Food production and the sales division. When the company was discontinued in 1970, Tod managed the former Gunkelman elevator and bird food plant in Grandin, N.D. for Agway Inc. In 1972, he founded Red River Commodities, and built the sunflower processing plant in Fargo. He sold the company in 1982 and stayed on as a consultant until 1984. Tod also had interests in other agribusiness companies around the area and served as secretary or treasurer for many of them. In 1990, when his brother John became ill, Tod joined the Schlossman & Gunkelman commercial real estate firm of Fargo, where he continued until his full retirement in 2005. The Gunkelmans maintained a residence in Sun City, Arizona where they wintered every year since 1980.

Tod was active in the Fargo Moorhead community through his memberships in Kiwanis, Masonic Lodge, Shrine Bodies and Scottish Rite as well as serving as President of the NDSU Alumni Association, the New Life Center and Fargo Union Mission. Tod was active in the ATO house during his college years and stayed on as the House Board President for many years. He was a Lay Speaker for the Methodist church and was a representative to the National Council of Churches. His biggest passion, however, was the YMCA and the Y’s Mens Club, where his dedication to the organization led him to be elected the International President, being installed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1980. This position took Tod and Do around the world to more than 25 countries on six continents, where they made life-long friends. The YMCA honored Tod with the Charles Bailly award for community service in 1998. Governor Sinner presented Tod with the North Dakota National Leadership Award of Excellence in 1981.

Tod was among the original members of NDSU Team Makers and was a loyal follower of Bison football, right through this year’s National Championship, which he was able to watch and enjoy. In 2005, Tod and Dolores received the NDSU Heritage Award from the NDSU Alumni Association.

Tod's enthusiasm and dedication were obvious, but more difficult to describe were his honesty, his ability to get along with people, his leadership skills, his ability to listen and hear the other person's point of view, and his lack of desire for personal glory.

In his retirement years, Tod enjoyed planting and harvesting from his large garden plot and he shared many, many vegetables with family, friends and the FM Food pantry. He loved his large family and enjoyed watching the grandchildren grow to have families of their own. His many great-grandchildren brought him hours of delight.

He was preceded in death by his parents, all eight of his siblings: Lloyd, Alice (Farlow), John, Paul, M. Elizabeth, Robert, Dorothy (Gustafson) and R. Thomas.

Tod is survived by his wife of 66 years, two sons: Frank (Pat), Midlothian, Virginia; Jay, Pinole, California; four daughters: Janet (John) Bartley; Carol (Todd) Anhorn; Sally (David) Harmon; all of Fargo; and Barb (David) Herzog, Key West, Florida and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota; 18 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to the New Life Center, the FM YMCA, or Hospice of the Red River Valley in Fargo. The family would like to thank the staff at Bethany on University and Hospice of the Red River Valley for their caring assistance with Tod’s last days.

Funeral Service: 3:00pm, Wednesday, January 15, at First Presbyterian Church, Fargo.

Visitation: 5-7pm, Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, Fargo; with a Prayer Service at 7:00pm.

Burial: Riverside Cemetery, Fargo, ND.

Please feel free to sign the online guestbook at www.hansonrunsvold.com

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