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Donald H. Ogaard

Donald H. Ogaard

Donald Harvey Ogaard, 90, of Ada, MN, passed away August 10, 2017, at Essentia Health, Fargo, ND, surrounded by family. Don was born to Selmer and Mathilda (Tuff) Ogaard October 9, 1926 at their farm home north of Fertile, MN. He attended school in Halstad and graduated from Ada High School in 1944. His studies didn't end there. For the rest of his life, he was dedicated to learning something new every day (Don's motto).

He began farming on his own in 1949 and continued to build his business throughout his career. In 1979, he and his son, Bruce, formed Ogaard Farms Inc. and operated 4,000 acres until Bruce's death in 1993. He thrived on implementing ways to improve their operation, including trying new crops, building and modifying equipment and utilizing better methodology. He was very interested in the formation of organizations to promote the agricultural industry and farmer profitability. He served on the original board of directors for several farm commodity groups.

Don had business interests that he worked alongside farming. He was an insurance agent for eight years and district manager for the company. From 1972 to 1978, Don owned and operated Ada Implement Company, selling International Harvester and other equipment. Don's interest in surface water management was raised very early in his life after experiencing flooded crops and drowned livestock. Don started implementing dikes and drainage ditches on his land. The success of his drainage efforts were recognized and kept Don busy in his spare time for many years doing custom work for farmers in the area. Because of his background and keen sense of how to address flooding, Don was appointed to the Wild Rice Watershed Board of Managers in 1970. This began 33 years of executive roles in local, regional, and state water management organizations. He was instrumental in the creation of the Red River Watershed Management Board, the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources, and the Red River Basin Commission.

Don and his first wife, Marlys (Fristrom) Ogaard, were married in Rindal, MN on June 24, 1951 and made their home on the family farm until 1984 when they built their home in Ada. They raised a family in the early years, had fun times at their lake home, and traveled to many faraway places. After retiring from farming, Don took to gardening, a little more fishing, and, eventually, cooking when Marlys' health was failing. Marlys passed away in 2002. Don married Phyllis Nitschke in Ada on November 1, 2003 and was happy to gain several new branches on his family tree. They enjoyed traveling and started a winter home in Naples, FL. One of Don's greatest joys has always been his family. All it took to light up his face was one of his children or grandchildren walking through the door.

Everyone who knew Don saw that his Parkinson's disease, diagnosed in December 2014, slowed him down but didn't keep him from enjoying life. He kept doing the things he loved, just with a little modification and a lot of determination.

Don is survived by his wife, Phyllis; three children, Steven (Rebecca), Moorhead, MN, Catherine (David) Gaboury, Fargo, ND and Patricia (Royal) Jaros, Lakeville, MN; four children from Phyllis' previous marriage, Michelle Nitschke (Brian Durben), Fargo, ND, Judi Nitschke, Fargo, ND, Trevor (Mindy) Nitschke, Ada, MN and Tracy (Gene) DeVine, Wahpeton, ND; one sister, Delores (Darrel) Westcott, McIntosh, MN; 25 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

Don was preceded in death by his first wife, Marlys, his son, Bruce, his infant brother, Stanley, his sister, Marjorie Blasey, his sister, Thelma Foss, and his parents.

Funeral: 11:00AM Monday, August 14, 2017, at Grace Lutheran Church, Ada.

Visitation: 5:00-7:00PM, with 6:30 prayer service on Sunday, August 13, at the church.

Burial: Ada Municipal Cemetery following the funeral.

Online guestbook available at with arrangements by Fredrikson-Ganje Funeral Home in Ada.