A Bismarck philanthropist and North Dakota oil pioneer was remembered Friday for his generous support of the community.
Frank Bavendick died Thursday at age 87 at Sanford Health in Bismarck.
The Bavendick name is well known in Bismarck, where Frank and his wife, Joanne, have been major benefactors of Bismarck State College, the YMCA and other organizations.
“They’ve been a big force in our community,” said Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen.
Bavendick, a Bismarck native, began working in the oil industry in the 1950s, returning to Bismarck in the 1960s to work as an independent landman. Bavendick acquired mineral rights in the Williston Basin that turned out to be wise investments.
“Frank was kind of a pioneer in that period between the oil booms in having the vision to see what the potential might be in the state,” said longtime friend John Sakariassen. “He was really very astute at that and very good at evaluating what the opportunities could be.”
In 1989, decades before the Bakken would become a household name, Bavendick told the Bismarck Tribune in an interview that he was optimistic about the potential for horizontal drilling to recover oil from the Bakken formation.
The interview with Bavendick came after he completed a term as president of the American Association of Petroleum Landmen, a national organization that had 9,000 members at the time.
“That’s a very rare thing for a North Dakotan,” said Brian Bjella, a Bismarck oil and gas attorney.
Bavendick enjoyed giving back to the community and continued to be active until his death, including serving as chairman of the Tom and Frances Leach Foundation and as a trustee for the Missouri Valley Family YMCA.
“If he would see a need, he would fill it,” said Bjella, president of the Tom and Frances Leach Foundation. “He loved North Dakota, loved Bismarck and believed very strongly in giving back to your community and state.”
Education and athletics were particularly important to Bavendick, a 1948 Bismarck High School graduate who attended both Bismarck Junior College, now known as Bismarck State College, and the University of North Dakota, graduating in 1952.
Bavendick was inducted into the North Dakota Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2016. In an interview for the 2017 Bismarck State College Foundation annual report, Bavendick credited much of his success to what he learned as an athlete in high school and college.
Bavendick frequently stopped by Bismarck State College to interact with student athletes and continued attending basketball games, even in recent weeks, said Athletic Director Buster Gilliss.
“He wasn’t in very good health, but he told me that it really picked him up to come to the games,” Gilliss said. “It gave him a real lift.”
In addition to his support of athletics, Bavendick also established a humanities endowment at Bismarck State College. Several scholarships carry the Bavendick name, as does the Bavendick Stateroom overlooking the Missouri River at BSC’s National Energy Center of Excellence.
Bill Bauman, director of the Missouri Valley Family YMCA, said the Bavendicks made the lead donation toward the wellness center addition named in their honor. Bauman called the 2008 addition a “transformative project” that allowed the YMCA to serve more people.
The Bavendicks also helped fund the Bismarck Salvation Army building, the soccer field at the Bismarck Community Bowl and have donated to the University of Mary and the University of North Dakota.
Sakariassen said his friend also contributed to many causes that he “didn’t make any noise about.”
“Frank was just an all-around good guy. I don’t think he got overblown about his success,” Sakariassen said. “He was just a pretty regular fellow who made the best of it. He did well, but he also did good.”
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church in Bismarck.