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Longtime Fargo pastor, the Rev. Dale Vitalis, has died

The Rev. Dale and Lu Vitalis of First Lutheran Church in downtown Fargo. Dale retired in December. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO - The Rev. Dale Vitalis, a long-serving Lutheran pastor here, has died. He was 89.

Vitalis was the pastor at downtown Fargo's First Lutheran Church before retiring in 2013. He was also a senior pastor at Fargo's Pontoppidan Lutheran Church from 1978 to 1985.

Vitalis died Sunday, Feb. 18, at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, according to an obituary from the Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home.

"He died peacefully with no pain and our whole family was able to see and talk to him this past week," said his daughter Susan Vitalis in a Facebook post. 

Vitalis and his wife, Lu, were featured in a Jan. 24, 2014, Faith Conversations article in The Forum titled, "Pastors' Pastor: Now retired, Rev. Vitalis looks forward to what's next."

The column is a tribute to Vitalis' legacy as a pastor in the community and detailed his plans for retirement.

"Being a pastor has been a highlight of my life," Vitalis said at the time. "There's no other profession where you're more welcomed into people's lives .... You're part of their grief, and you're a part of their joy."

A visitation has been scheduled for Friday, Feb. 23 at First Lutheran Church in Fargo from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the prayer service beginning shortly thereafter, according to the funeral home's website.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, another visitation will be held at 10 a.m. at First Lutheran Church, followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m.