Historian Vyzralek dies at 75

2014-02-07T23:40:00Z Historian Vyzralek dies at 75By ASHLEY WRIGHT | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
February 07, 2014 11:40 pm  • 

Noted North Dakota historian Frank E. Vyzralek, 75, died in the early Friday morning at St. Alexius Medical Center.

Vyzralek was active in researching and publishing state and regional history and was the type of historian who made everyone around him excited about his craft.

“There is a whole series of people who Frank has touched throughout the years,” said Mark J. Halvorson, curator of collections research for the State Historical Society of North Dakota. “Wherever you were, he’d point out what happened in the area at various points in history and he’d tie it all together and explain the repercussions they had to this day.”

Halvorson, who worked with Vyzralek for more than a quarter of a century and viewed him as a mentor, said that there wasn’t a part of North Dakota that Vyralek had not made a mark.

“There wasn’t a county seat or small town in North Dakota that Frank had not been in advising all sorts of people on how to preserve their history ... how it speaks to us and allows us to dream for the future,” he said.

Vyzralek was born in 1939 in Alexandria, Minn. He attended Fargo public schools.

He was a graduate of North Dakota State University and came to work as a researcher for the State Historical Society of North Dakota in 1969.

In 1971, he became an archivist for the agency and in 1977 was appointed to the new position of state archivist.

In 1981, he left the historical society to serve as interim director of the North Dakota Humanities Council. From 1981 to the present, he has owned Great Plains Research, a private company that performs historical research for companies and governmental agencies.

Throughout his career, he continued to be passionate about preserving the history of the everyday North Dakotan, Halvorson said.

“He was a person who understood that it takes a wide variety of people to make things work, everyone from the volunteer at the local museum to the academic at NDSU ... to help preserve the history of North Dakota and her people,” Halvorson said. “Frank was a firm believer in working together. He will be sorely missed by a wide variety of people.”

In 2008, Vyzralek received the Larry Rowen Remele Award at the Northern Great Plains History Conference.

He also helped found the North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia.

Vyzralek is survived by his wife Dolores E. Barnard.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Bismarck Funeral Home. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

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