Wayne Stenehjem, 68, of Bismarck, ND, died on January 28, 2022 in a Bismarck hospital.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on February 3, 2022, at the Bismarck Exhibition Hall, with Rev. Laurie Natwick officiating. Following the service, cremation will take place and a private family burial will be held at a later date.
Visitation will be held in the Memorial Hall of the North Dakota State Capitol on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM. Public may enter through the south entrance of the Capitol.
Wayne was born on February 5, 1953, to Martin and Margurite (McMaster) Stenehjem in Mohall, North Dakota. He graduated from the University of North Dakota and received his law degree from the UND School of Law in 1977. He was married to Tamra Smith on June 16, 1978, and his son Andrew was born on December 31, 1980. On June 30, 1995, he married Beth Bakke Stenehjem.
Wayne was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1976, serving two terms until his election to the ND Senate in 1980. He served 20 years in the Senate until his election to the Office of Attorney General. In January 2001, Wayne was sworn in as the State’s 29th Attorney General. He was re-elected five times and was the longest-serving Attorney General in North Dakota history.
Wayne, a trivia expert, was a “Phone a Friend” for Who Wants to be a Millionaire and in true fashion he provided the correct answer. He loved playing Jeopardy and Words with Friends; he was highly competitive. An Eagle Scout since 1968, Wayne was honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2013. He had an “open door” office. Boy Scouts, FFA members, preschool classes, and many small groups were welcome. He especially enjoyed meeting children and had a gift for putting them at ease. Wayne was well-known for his sunset pictures of the Capitol. He was a gifted and humorous speaker.
Beth and Wayne hosted annual 4th of July parties where all were welcome. Friends, new and old, have memories of water balloon slingshots and the occasional mishap with shingles and fences, pinatas held up only as high as the child who was aiming, and Mentos in Diet Coke with volcanic results. Wayne masterminded the fun. Wayne’s laugh was like him – larger than life and completely genuine.
Wayne, Beth, and Andrew travelled the world over: Antarctica, Africa, and many places in between. On a recent trip to Belize, he became a certified diver, joining his son, Andrew, and nephew on some spectacular dives. Closer to home he and Beth explored the local area with their electric bikes.
Wayne will be deeply missed by his wife, Beth; son, Andrew; brothers, Steven (Kim) and Allan (Dominque); sister, Peggy Stenehjem Titus (Corky); sisters-in-law, Kathy Stenehjem, JaVayne Stenehjem; and brother-in-law, Patrick Brown.
He is proceeded in death by parents, Martin (Buck) and Peg Stenehjem; brothers, John and Robert (Bob); and sister, Sue Stenehjem-Brown.
The recording of the service will be posted on the Bismarck Funeral Home website where you can also sign the online guestbook and share memories with his family at www.bismarckfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations sent to Northern Lights Council Boy Scouts of America, Bismarck State College Foundation, the Abused Adult Resource Center, UND’s Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Ministry, or a charity of your choice.