Martha Louise Flaten Nygard peacefully passed into life everlasting on June 16, 2019, at Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center of Bismarck. In two weeks she would have celebrated her 100th birthday.
Martha was born June 30, 1919, to Amund and Johanna (Wambem) Flaten on the family farm near Park River. As a girl, she walked two miles each day to attend the Ramsey Grove School in Vernon Township. She attended high school at the Walsh County Agricultural School in Park River, graduating as an honor student in 1937. After a year at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., she attended Miss Wood’s Training School for Teachers of Young Children in Minneapolis, graduating in 1940. She became a kindergarten teacher in the Huron Public Schools, teaching classes of 30 students every morning and afternoon.
On Nov. 4, 1942, Martha married Lloyd Nygard. After their marriage, Lloyd served as a civilian airplane mechanics instructor at the Naval Training Center in Memphis, Tennesee. Later they moved to Velva, where Lloyd taught vocational agriculture. Martha was active in Oak Valley Lutheran Church, singing in the choir, playing the organ, and serving as Sunday school superintendent.
In 1951 they moved to Minot, where Lloyd managed the ranches operated by W. M. Harrington of Minot. In 1961 they purchased their own farm where Lloyd and Martha dedicated themselves to farming, ranching and devotedly raising their three children.
Martha’s love for music was shared through giving piano lessons to countless students. Her love for teaching young people was revealed in her role as organizer and leader of Topnotcher’s 4-H Club. Her gift of hospitality was expressed by welcoming family and friends to her table for a hearty meal or a slice of Juneberry pie.
Devotion to her faith was seen in her service at First Lutheran Church as Sunday school teacher, Deaconess Board member, Bible study leader and Cheer Ministry coordinator. And although she didn’t enjoy working with numbers, she was quite proud of her 17 years of faithful service as the Kirkiele Township assessor.
Martha had a grateful servant’s heart and her desire to share her love for the Lord was evident throughout her life. In her younger years she taught summer parochial school at five churches near Cando and Church’s Ferry in 1938 and 39. She felt privileged to share the great truths of faith with young people who had their whole lives ahead of them. A highlight later in life was a trip she and Lloyd made to Cameroon, West Africa, to visit their missionary son’s family. She witnessed the work of her church in a distant place and returned home eager to tell about it. She and Lloyd spoke about their experience at numerous gatherings, and Martha became an enthusiastic supporter of the church’s mission overseas.
Martha continued to enjoy living on the farm following Lloyd’s death in 2001. After the flood of 2011, she made her home in Bismarck with her daughter’s family. In 2014 she moved to Valley View Assisted Living, thoroughly enjoying the many social contacts it offered and dedicating herself to doing three miles a day on the “NuStep” recumbent stepper. Her cheerful spirit and her positive attitude were an inspiration to many.
Martha’s loving family includes three children, Rev. Dr. Mark (Linda) Nygard, St. Paul, Minnesota, Dr. Neal Nygard (Dr. Mary Beth Graham), Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Deacon Joanne (Rev. David) Swonger, Bismarck; seven grandchildren, Rev. Pauline (Larry) Crowder, Matthew (Dina), John (Heidi), Graham (Molly), Adam, Emelie Swonger (fiancée, Bradley Laackmann), and Luke Swonger; six great-grandchildren, Joshua, Michael, Tchina Elisabeth (fiancée, Preston Welch), Alvin, Micah, and Lillyann; sister, Dorothy Drevecky; many beloved nieces and nephews; and a host of loving friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Lloyd; parents, Amund and Johanna Flaten; brother, Art Flaten; two sisters, Betty Christopherson and Doris Stark.
A “celebration of life” memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, June 24, First Lutheran Church, Minot. Interment will be at Sunset Memorial Gardens, Minot.
Memorials may be given to Lutheran World Relief or ELCA Global Mission.
Those wishing to sign the online memorial register or share memories may do so at www.eastgatefuneral.com.
(Eastgate/Parkway Funeral Service, Bismarck)