Pastor Elwood Skarpness, Age 92, Moorhead, MN, went home to be with the Lord on Palm Sunday, April 2, at Essentia Health Hospital, Fargo, ND. Even during health difficulties, Elwood continued to have a grateful attitude and prayed for the people who cared for him. The foundation of Elwood’s life was Jesus Christ. In his 2022 Thanksgiving greeting he said, “There is one thing that enables me to be cheerful no matter what my situation may be, and that is the good news of God’s word that Jesus came to suffer and die for all my sins so I can be forgiven and become a child of God, with the promise of His help for all the troubles I may encounter in this world and the wonderful promise of eternal life in heaven by faith in Jesus, where sin and death, suffering and sorrow will be no more.”
Elwood was born on September 20, 1930, in Benson, MN, to Ludvig and Inez (Wanberg) Skarpness. He lived with his parents and grandparents on the Ole and Olina Skarpness farm, near Sunburg, MN, from 1930-1932. He was baptized at Spring Creek Lutheran Church, rural Sunburg, MN. In 1932, he moved with his parents to Terrace, MN, where he grew up and completed Grades 1-8 in School District 27.
Elwood attended high school in Glenwood, MN, where he graduated in 1948. He then attended Teacher’s Training at Glenwood High School for one year from 1948-1949 and taught in District 27, Terrace, MN, from 1949-1950. In 1950, Elwood enrolled in Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, where he graduated in 1954. In the fall of 1954, he enrolled at Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, MN.
On June 12, 1955, Elwood was united in marriage to Elsie Nelson at St. John Lutheran Church in Hatton, ND. After his 2nd year of Seminary, he served one year of internship at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Canby, MN, from 1956-1957. Elwood graduated from Seminary in 1958 with a Bachelor of Theology degree. He was ordained on June 15, 1958, in his home congregation of Chippewa Falls Lutheran Church at Terrace, MN.
Elwood’s first call was to serve as Pastor of First Lutheran Church, Glenville, MN, which he served from June 1958-March 1967. From April 1967-Oct. 1976, he served as Pastor of United Lutheran Church in Chester, IA, and Saetersdal Lutheran Church, rural Lime Springs, IA. From Nov. 1976-Sept. 1998, he served as Pastor of DeLamere and Immanuel Lutheran Churches of DeLamere, ND.
Pastor Skarpness retired after 40 years in active ministry on Oct. 1, 1998. Hobbies that Elwood enjoyed throughout his life were building things (including a camper for family vacations), gardening, home improvement projects, and learning family history, with a highlight being a trip to Norway and Sweden in 2000. He and his wife, Elsie, continued to live in DeLamere until Dec. 2017 when Elsie’s medical conditions made it necessary to move to Moorhead, MN, to live with their daughter, Karen, in Jan. 2018. Elsie went home to be with the Lord on Jan. 5, 2022. Elwood continued to live with his daughter, Karen, until Sept. 2022, when health issues required both hospital and skilled nursing care. Karen was still close enough to be able to spend time with her father most days.
Elwood and Elsie were married for almost 67 years, and they were blessed with four children: Lorie, Paul, Mark, and Karen. Elwood loved his family and extended family dearly, and he was a living example of what it means to trust God and love and serve the people around us.
Elwood is survived by his children, Lorie of rural Park Rapids, MN, Paul of Honolulu, HI, Mark (Linh Phan) of Portland, OR, and Karen of Moorhead, MN; three grandchildren, Noelani of Tokyo, Japan and Anna and Finn of Portland, OR; sister-in-law, Liz Skarpness of rural Glenwood, MN; brother-in-law, Robert Argall of Valders, WI; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Elsie (Jan. 2022), his parents, Ludvig Skarpness (March 1977) and Inez Skarpness (Sept. 1964); brothers, Harold Skarpness (Feb. 2003) and Larry Skarpness (Aug. 2016); and sister in-law Mrs. Harold (Jean) Skarpness (Aug. 2009).
Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. with a Prayer Service at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 24, at Wright Funeral Home in Moorhead, MN. A “Celebration of Life” service will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 25, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, rural DeLamere, ND. Recordings of the Prayer Service and “Celebration of Life” will be available on the funeral home website (www.wrightfuneral.com).
In lieu of flowers or memorial gifts to the family, please consider donating to Immanuel Lutheran Church (rural DeLamere, ND) or to one of the following organizations that meant a lot to Elwood: