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Ardean Krogen, 76, passed away on the evening of May 27th, 2020 at Essentia Hospital in Fargo, ND. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he was comforted during his passing by hearing his children’s voices talking to him through the phone and with a special song from his grandchildren.
Ardean Odin Krogen was born October 21, 1943, to Arne and Lena (Haugen) Krogen and was raised on the homestead near Grenora, North Dakota. He went to Gladys Country School until the Fall of 1950 when a bus started picking him up to attend the Grenora School. Growing up, his mother’s cooking and baking, especially the Norwegian food, was always thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. Ardean was known as her little food disposal. He started driving tractor at a young age, planted his first crop in the 8th grade, enjoyed farming with his father, and continued farming throughout most of his life.
Ardean graduated from Grenora High School in 1961 and then in the Spring of 1965, he was drafted into the Army. He went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training and was then stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma in the 24th Infantry Division 7th U.S. Army as an Artillery Ballistic Meteorologist. That appointment made him proud. He was also a truck driver in the army since he was ‘a farm boy from North Dakota.’ From Fort Sill, he was assigned to Munich, Germany. While in Germany, he saved his money to purchase a car so he could travel throughout Europe. He traveled to Moelv, Norway to visit where his father Arne was born. Ardean was honorably discharged in March 1967.
In the Fall of 1969, he began attending UND-W and graduated in 1971. From there, he attended NDSU to continue his education. He enjoyed school, but always thought of farming as his ‘real education,’ teaching how life was in the real world. On November 26, 1977, he married Faye Wheeler and they were blessed with two children, Mathew Dean and Mikala Ann.
In addition to farming, Ardean also worked a variety of other jobs; delivering packages was the main one (for UPS and then the Fed Ex corporation) for 28 years. He and his son spent several years working together unloading trailers at RPS/Fed Ex Ground, which resulted in some great 5 a.m. early morning bonding time. Ardean also worked at Sitting Bull Auction from 1977 until 2005. His favorite story from Sitting Bull was when a 600-pound hog broke loose and he tried to block it while holding onto a fence post. The hog went between his legs and there was nothing he could do so he just let go and rode the hog backwards into the auction arena acknowledging the crowd, receiving a round of applause and showcasing his go-with-the-flow attitude, adaptability, and sense of humor. Ardean also had a patient and caring heart. He respected wildlife and enjoyed watching animals in the good old outdoors and would assist wounded or stray animals. It provided special moments for his kids when he would come home from the field with a rabbit, snake, bird, frog, turtle, or dog.
Ardean was an avid sports fan and especially enjoyed watching local hometown kids play, even traveling to out-of-town tournaments, and was often found at the same spot in the stands. Back in the day, he was rumored to be quite the home run hitter himself. In 1990, while wearing his cowboy boots, he coached Mathew’s 5th grade basketball team to the championship. Ardean’s favorite professional players were Jim Plunkett (football), Mickey Mantle (baseball), and Larry Bird (basketball). He recalled when growing up that it was a penny for a baseball card and the bubble gum was as big as the card. He was able to get several Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris cards. A special memory of his was traveling with Mathew to Yankee Stadium in its final season to get to see where Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris played. Ardean had an uncanny ability to engage in conversations wherever he went. While on a baseball tour with Mathew at a game in Philadelphia, fellow North Dakotan Chris Coste (a major leaguer) saw Ardean’s Williston cap and visited with him before the game on the field just like they were old friends. Ardean very much enjoyed his father-son trips and talked about them often.
Ardean also had a passion for horse racing. While many people enjoy the gambling associated with horse racing, Ardean simply enjoyed watching and savoring the purity of the sport. He knew the bloodlines of the horses and would tell you about them. At Churchill Downs racetrack, he was interviewed by Fox News. The journalist asked a question expecting a one sentence answer but got a 2-minute detailed explanation. For a contest on SiriusXM radio, Ardean called in and they chose his suggestion to name their new horse racing show ‘Riders Up.’ He absolutely loved watching the horses thunder down the track. Attending the Kentucky Derby with Mathew in 2008 was definitely a highlight for him. His favorite racehorse was Tim Tam. In 1958, Tim Tam won the Kentucky Derby and was in the lead on the home stretch to win the Triple Crown. Tim Tam then stumbled and broke his foot but still hobbled to finish the race. In the last couple years of Ardean’s life, he too encountered his own physical setbacks, but he was a stubborn ‘tough Norwegian’ and powered through with his limitations to finish his race while maintaining a smile on his face (most of the time).
He treasured his time and visits with his “punky” (Mikala) and was amazed when she squeezed his pinky finger right away as a preemie after being born. He loved reminiscing about the time they were on a horse ride when Mikala was little, and she got hung up in a tree by her hood (not hearing him say ‘duck’). He was leading her on a pony and the pony stopped, so when he looked back, there she was hanging in the tree. Reminiscing of this story resulted in many laughs over the years. They took many road trips to Grenora together and he enjoyed visiting her wherever she was living. Whether they went to sporting events, restaurants, parks, parades, pumpkin patches or were picking apples, watching horses, playing games, he enjoyed their chats and time together. He would always remind her to “go slow and easy,” to make sure to take time to relax and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, and to take care of her family before his needs.
Ardean loved being useful and helping any way he could which was often problem-solving with mechanics, fixing things, and keeping them in working order. One story portraying Ardean’s patience (told by Jake himself) was when he helped his son-in-law fix their snowblower. Ardean sat there patiently advising on the intricacies of engine repair. He would ask, “did you try this? Did you try that?” After attempting every repair he could think of, Ardean asked, “does it have any fuel?” The snowblower was completely out of gas, to which he said, “This is a good lesson; always try the simplest things first!”
A special role of Ardean was being a grandpa to Jesyn and Araya. He was also excited about having a new little grandchild this summer.
One of Ardean’s gifts was his resourcefulness. Since he was able to repurpose materials, he made a sled out of cardboard, rope, and plastic bottles; as always, he was the first to try it out for safety before letting Jesyn give it a go. Before his ailments, Grandpa Ardean would slide down the slides at the park, swing on the swings, get on the ground and build a snowman, showing he wasn’t afraid to live as a kid even in his 70’s. He loved showing and teaching Jesyn about machinery and equipment, especially the “old stuff.” Ardean also enjoyed socializing with others and could talk to anyone, anywhere, which is a special ability his grandson seemed to inherit from him.
Due to mobility limitations later in life, Ardean took on a new role cherishing his time of being a real-life doll for Araya. She got to play beauty shop by painting his toenails and helping Uncle Mathew cut Grandpa’s hair. This created so many chuckles and memories for all. She will certainly miss this special time and her snuggles and wheelchair rides with Grandpa. Another thing they shared together was their mutual love of horses.
Ardean is loved and deeply missed by his son Mathew (Kim) of Bismarck, his daughter Mikala (Jake) Schmitz of Fargo, his grandson Jesyn and his granddaughter Araya. He is also survived by his sister Evelene Krogen, sister Lorraine (Bob) Bergstrom and family, and brother Ervin (Bea) Krogen and family. He especially loved being Uncle Ardean to his nieces and nephews; the card game Rook was a Krogen family favorite enjoyed, as well as watching and playing sports, or just visiting and laughing together. He also greatly enjoyed visiting with his aunts, uncles, and cousins through the years. He was preceded in death by his parents and by a nephew, Jim Bergstrom.
Ardean’s team M & M (Mathew and Mikala) would especially like to thank his special caretaker Maria, who became like family, as well as the incredible VA team and the Sanford team for their many visits, calls, and help caring for their dad and his needs. The VA provided incredible assistance to him and his children, which started in Williston and continued in Fargo. His family is so grateful for the amazing care and kindness he received.
To aid in his transition from this life and into the next, Ardean received some extra special “little guitar” (ukulele) music provided by his son-in-law immediately after his passing to start his ‘walk with Thee’ to ‘reach that blissful shore where the angels wait to join us in that great forevermore’ (referencing Patsy Cline music). He is surely missed, but we know he is now walking with his parents and other family and friends, fully restored.
Wright funeral home in Moorhead, MN is assisting the family. A private burial service with military honors will take place at the Fargo National Cemetery at a later date. We encourage family and friends to sign the online guestbook, share a memory, or give their condolences at https://www.wrightfuneral.com/obituary/ardean-o-krogen/ or you can email to [email protected].
In lieu of flowers or memorials, please honor Ardean and his motto to “keep it simple.” Be friendly by giving a smile, saying hello, engaging in conversation with a neighbor, or going out of your way to help a stranger. Show up and cheer for your local sports team, spend some time enjoying Mother Nature of the Good Lord’s creation, listen to some Patsy Cline, watch a good old John Wayne western, enjoy a good horse race, or turn on the radio “to get educated” by listening to Rush. Remember that when it rains and may ruin your plans, “you can’t fight Mother Nature” so “just keep rolling.” Indulge in a piece of hard candy, pie, caramel roll, cookie, milkshake, some ice cream, or knoephla soup. Or in true Norwegian fashion, eat some lefse, potato klubb, or lutefisk (for those interested, Ardean’s special cooking method was to wrap lutefisk in tin foil and steam it in the dishwasher). Thank a veteran for his service, which always brought tears to Ardean’s eyes. Or as Ardean Odin Krogen’s initials state, do something A.O.K. and brighten someone’s day. Then, as Ardean would always say, “it’s all good.”
Sunday, July 9, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
Fargo National Cemetery
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