Keith Satermo


Keith Satermo, Valley City, ND, formerly of Fargo and New Town, passed away peacefully at St. Raphael Nursing Home on March 8, 2023, at the age of 88.

Funeral Service: 11am, Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, Fargo with a visitation one hour prior.

Interment: Private ceremony at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, Mandan.

Keith W. Satermo was born December 13, 1934, in Van Hook, to Ralph and Thelma (Halvorson) Satermo. He was raised in Van Hook and was baptized and confirmed at Bethany Lutheran. He attended Van Hook High School and played basketball all four years, receiving all-conference honors. He along with 12 other classmates graduated in 1952.

Keith then completed a two-year course in sheet metal, heating, and ventilation at the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton, spending his summers working either in the oil patch or at his father’s hardware store. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954 and was stationed with the 804th Engineer Aviation Battalion near Reading, England. Upon his honorable discharge in July 1956, Keith enrolled at North Dakota State Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) and graduated in four years with a degree in civil engineering.

While back home in New Town in the summer of 1957, Keith ran into Carleen Johnson who was home from California visiting her parents in nearby Parshall. They were married the day after Christmas that same year in Las Vegas - a marriage that lasted over 43 years and was blessed with four children.

Keith’s first job after graduation was with the County of Los Angeles, starting a long career in civil engineering where he specialized in water-resource management. While most of his career was spent in North Dakota and southern California, he did work for a year in Al-Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, near the Persian Gulf as a manager on a large-scale engineering project. Another milestone found him working as an engineering director on irrigation projects for Native American tribes along the Colorado River in the early 1980s, and then subsequently serving as an expert witness for the tribes in their U.S. Supreme Court case with the states of California and Arizona for Colorado River water rights.

Keith took a break from California in 1970 to move his family back to a farm on the shores of Lake Sakakawea. There he raised his family while farming hogs and working in engineering firms in Bismarck and Dickinson, before returning to California in 1980.

Keith retired in 1995, and he and Carleen moved to Moorhead, Minnesota, until her passing in 2002, at which time he moved to Fargo. Due to health issues, he moved to St. Raphael Nursing Home in Valley City in March of 2022.

Keith loved visiting with family and friends, telling stories, laughing, listening to big-band music, dancing, playing blackjack, and watching anything NDSU Bison. Keith was a life-long learner and studied Norwegian in his 70s at the Sons of Norway in Fargo and even wrote his own English-Norwegian dictionary because he was frustrated with the ones available. He was very proud of his four grandchildren and of his North Dakota and Norwegian roots.

Keith is survived by his children Dianne (Leighton) Smith of Valley City, ND, Gunnar Satermo of Fargo, ND, Eric (Maria) Satermo of Coto de Caza, CA, and Neil Satermo of Valley City; his grandchildren Natalie Lyon (Janae) of Waverly, MN; Natasha (Sean) Gage of New Brighton, MN; and Leif and Conrad Satermo of Coto de Caza, CA; his great-grandson Everett Gage; and more than 20 nieces and nephews, as well as many great- and great-great nieces and nephews.

Keith was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Carleen, his three brothers Milton, Dwight, and Dale, and his sister Eunice.

Condolences and memories may be shared at

Arrangements entrusted to Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home - Fargo, ND

Modulist Image