Harold Schafer died Dec. 2, 2001, in a Bismarck hospital after an extended illness. He was 89 years old. Harold is survived by Sheila, his wife of 36 years; two sons and daughters-in-law, former North Dakota governor and first lady, Ed and Nancy Schafer, of Fargo, and Mark and Polly Limond of El Cajon, Calif.; six daughters and five sons-in-law, Haroldeen and Robert Heskin of Alexandria, Minn., Joanne and Jim Kack of Bozeman, Mont., Dianne Schafer and Eddie Walker of Fort Worth, Texas, Pamela Schafer and Warren Bishop of Del Mar, Calif., Michelle and Rolf Sletten of Bismarck, and Maureen Limond of Austin, Texas; in addition to 25 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Erma Wolters, Harold's longtime secretary and confidant, was also considered a member of the family. She worked side by side with Harold from the first days of Gold Seal Company until shortly before her death in 1996.
Harold was born Feb. 1, 1912, on a small farm near Stanton, N.D., the second of three children born to Edward and Bertha Schafer. His brother Gordon was born in 1911, his sister Ethelwyn in 1916. During Harold's school years the family moved repeatedly. In 1919, the Schafers moved from the farm near Stanton to another small farm near Hazen, then to Killdeer in 1920, and to Bismarck in 1922. Harold next spent a considerable period of time with his mother's family near Rosebud, S.D. In 1924, when Harold was 12 years old, his father left the family and Harold moved back to Bismarck to live with his mother. He and his mother subsequently moved to Jamestown, then to Glen Ullin, and finally back to Bismarck in 1927. Harold graduated from Bismarck High School in 1929.
During this period in his life, Harold came to recognize the value of hard work - a principle that defined his personality throughout the remainder of his working life. He took his first paid job at the age of eight working in a butcher shop in Killdeer for $4 per week. When his family moved to Bismarck he worked as a newspaper boy, did janitorial work, and was employed as a gas station attendant. In Jamestown he candled eggs, sold flowers and worked as a department store clerk. In Glen Ullin he worked on a threshing crew, and by the time he was back in Bismarck and graduating from high school, Harold was working two or three jobs at one time. He did odd jobs at the Dahl clothing store, was an usher at the Capitol Theater, a bell hop at the Patterson Hotel, and an attendant at the Standard Oil Service Station. He also delivered milk and shoveled snow. Finally he was offered a job as a salesman at Bergeson's clothing store, an experience which may have marked the real starting point of his career as a salesman.
In 1929, Harold enrolled at the North Dakota State Agricultural College (now NDSU) in Fargo. He continued to work at multiple jobs and once again his employment included work as a salesman, this time at the Globe Clothing Company. Harold left college after one year when he found his fraternity brothers fighting over the chance to become county agents at $75 per month. Already earning $200 per month while working part time and attending school, he hit the road as a traveling salesman, convinced that college was not the answer for him. By 1931, at the age of 19, he returned to Bismarck where once again he found work at the Dahl Clothing Store.
On Sept. 22, 1935, Harold was married to Marian Nelsen of Aberdeen, S.D. During their 30-year marriage they raised five children; Haroldeen, Joanne, Dianne, Ed and Pam.
Through an unfortunate set of circumstances Harold was forced to take a job at a clothing store in Glasgow, Mont., almost immediately after the wedding but, by Jan. 1, 1936, he was back in Bismarck and working for Vantine's Paint and Glass. He switched to Fargo Glass and Paint in November of 1936 and then worked for that company as a traveling salesman for several years.
In 1942, Harold started packaging and selling a product he called Gold Seal Floor Wax. He personally typed the labels by hand and taped them onto old cans in his basement and, thus, Gold Seal Company was born. Virtually no one noticed. In the spring of 1943, Harold resigned his job at Fargo Glass and Paint to pursue his new dream only to discover that the few hundred dollars that he had expected to have available for the purpose of starting the company did not materialize. At that point Harold had three small children, he had no job and no money, and his new company had no assets … but he was living the dream.
In 1943, his Gold Seal Company made a profit of $901.02, and Harold borrowed money from friends to keep going. The company grew modestly at first but, in 1945, Harold introduced a new product called Glass Wax. Sales increased dramatically and then suddenly boomed when, in 1948, Glass Wax "went national". The astonishing rise of this small North Dakota company, Harold's sometimes flamboyant management style, and his incredible enthusiasm for hard work propelled Harold into the national limelight. The phenomenal success of Glass Wax was repeated again in the 1950's with Snowy Bleach and in the 1960's with Mr. Bubble. Each of these became the No. 1 selling product in the world in their respective categories and the Gold Seal Company continued to produce increasing sales and profits until it was sold in 1986.
On May 9, 1965, Harold married Sheila Chinn Limond. She had three children - Mark, Michelle and Maureen. Harold and Sheila embraced each other's children as their own and the two families were melded into one.
Although Harold's business success received a huge amount of attention, he is fondly remembered by most North Dakotans for very different reasons. He was phenomenally generous, often to the exasperation of the people who were charged with the task of making Gold Seal prosper and grow. The early years of his life were marked by hard work and a nearly destitute existence, his middle years were marked by hard work and business success, and the latter portion of his life was defined by hard work and his devotion to family, to North Dakota and to Medora. Through it all, he was always extremely generous. No living person knows the number of people touched by that generosity - but they are legion.
Harold had a quiet but determined faith in God that was inextricably woven into the fabric of his life. He expressed that faith by his actions more often than by his words. Though he seldom spoke of his faith publicly, that faith was strong and always guided his path. Harold gave God full credit for his accomplishments and often felt very undeserving of having the prosperity that had eluded so many others. He was ever mindful of the passage from Luke 12 which teaches that, "… for unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required …". The feeling that he was not worthy of being singled out for any unusual success was the driving force behind much of his generosity. Harold truly lived his faith.
As Harold grew older his lifelong love for the Badlands and for Medora occupied more and more of his attention. He purchased the Rough Riders Hotel and the Ferris Store in 1962 and began renovating them in 1963. Other renovations and improvements soon followed and, in 1965, the Medora Division of the Gold Seal Company was opened to the public. Harold was enthralled with Medora and it's fascinating history, and continued to pour his money and his efforts into this project. Medora eventually developed into the largest recreational area in the State of North Dakota. When the Gold Seal Company was sold in 1986, the family donated the Medora assets to the newly formed Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. A very large number of people have worked very hard to make Medora the premier attraction it is today but, clearly, it all began when Harold's crew took the Rough Riders Hotel apart board by board and then painstakingly reassembled it. In later years, Harold would walk, with great difficulty, through the streets of Medora simply marveling at all that had been accomplished. He loved it. The happiest days of his life may have been those he spent with Sheila in Medora.
One of the most unforgettable features of Harold's personality was his amazing outlook on life. He endured devastating business setbacks, draining lawsuits, and heartbreaking adversity in his personal life. In spite of all that occurred he genuinely believed he was the most blessed man who ever lived and, even when his health had deteriorated to the point that he couldn't lift his arm off the table and could barely walk across the room, he constantly exclaimed that everything was "wonderful". He meant it.
An astonishing number of awards were bestowed on Harold. A very large number of those were directly related to his philanthropy, but he also became the youngest person ever to win the Horatio Alger award, he was named one of the 10 best-dressed men in America by the International Association of Custom Tailors and Designers and, in 1975, he was awarded the State's highest honor, the Rough Rider Award, by Gov. Art Link.
Harold Schafer was a unique blend of flamboyance and humility, a successful businessman who was much more interested in sharing than in accumulating wealth. He was generous to the point of extravagance. He loved his family, North Dakota, Medora, and the company he had built. He knew the joy of relentless hard work and the satisfaction of overcoming adversity in the face of all odds. He had great admiration for Theodore Roosevelt and relished in the kinship he felt with Teddy because of their shared love of the Badlands and their commitment to serving others. T.R. could have spoken for both of them when he said, "Ours was the glory of work and the joy of living".
Harold was particularly proud of the Harold Schafer Leadership Center which has been established at the University of Mary, and of the collection of Native American artifacts which he assembled and displayed in the Museum of the Badlands in Medora. A new Theodore Roosevelt Badlands Institute is currently being planned for Medora. The artifact collection will be housed within the Institute's facility. The family suggests that in lieu of sending flowers, those who wish to do so may contribute a memorial to the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation at the University of Mary or to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation for development of the new project.
A memorial service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bismarck at 2 p.m. today.
"Life is fragile, handle it with a prayer."
ASHLEY - James J. Kaseman, 57, Ashley, died Dec. 4, 2001, at his home of natural causes. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Zion Lutheran Church, Ashley. Further arrangements are pending with Carlsen Funeral Home, Ashley.
MOTT - Bertha Heinle, 82, Mott, formerly of Hebron, died Dec. 5, 2001, in the Mott care center. Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. MST Saturday at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Hebron. Further arrangements are pending with Spangelo Funeral Home, Hebron.
JAMESTOWN - Ruth A. Wilson, 77, Jamestown, died Dec. 4, 2001, in a Bismarck hospital from complications following heart surgery. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church, Jamestown. Burial will be in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Jamestown.
She is survived by her husband, Bill; three daughters, Bonnie Geist, Arvada, Colo., Ginger Schlecht, Mandan, and Renee Wilson, Westminster, Colo.; two sons, Randy and Rick, both of Jamestown; 18 Grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and one half-sister, Phyllis, Portland, Ore. (Eddy Funeral Home, Jamestown)
WILLISTON - Robert A. Torgerson, 76, Williston, died Dec. 4, 2001, in the Dickinson hospital. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at First Lutheran Church, Williston. Burial will be in Riverview Cemetery, Williston.
He is survived by his wife, Audrey; three sons, Robert, Henderson, Nev., Tom, Norman, Okla., and Richard, Graham, Wash.; four daughters, Cheris Meek, University Place, Wash., Darlene Morud, Burlington, Kathy Carroll, Norman, Okla., and Kathy Wegleitner, Dickinson; 11 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and three brothers, Norman, Ronald and Gary, all of Sidney, Mont. (Everson Funeral Home, Williston)
Eileene Olson, 56, Bismarck, died Dec. 4, 2001, at her home. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Bismarck Funeral Home, with the Rev. Joel Sherer officiating. Burial will be held at a later date.
Eileene Kaye Olson was born April 5, 1945, at Crosby, the daughter of Oliver and Fern (Lohse) Fordahl. She was raised in Crosby. She married Vernon Hysjulien on Nov. 30, 1963. They resided at Columbus, and came to Bismarck in 1986.
Eileene was active in many areas involving the handicapped and their causes. She served on the Bismarck-Mandan Transit Board, attended legislative hearings and volunteered at the Radisson Gift Shop for ARC. Her favorite pastimes were spending time with her grandchildren, doing crafts and being out and about.
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Eileene is survived by her children and grandchildren, Angela Hysjulien and Jared, Danielle and Carly, Aurora, Ill., Anthony (Deborah) Hysjulien and Randi, Anthony and Tory, Springfield, Va., Audrey (Ron) Rhoades and Madison and Cassidy, Dickinson, Alan Hysjulien and daughter Hali, Pueblo, Colo., and Ann Hysjulien and Kristen and Michael, Bismarck. She is also survived by he rmother, Fern Fordahl, Bismarck; nine brothers and sisters, Olive (John) Patton, Union City, Calif., Florence (Richard) Gumke, Sultan, Wash., Emilie (Milbert) Boschee, Bismarck, Jeanette Hansen, Crosby, Robert Fordahl, Hayward, Calif., Lois Roden, Knoxville, Ark., Lowell Fordahl, Everett, Wash., Juanita Wilhelmi, Silver Springs, Neb., Patricia Fordahl, Velva, and Donalda Fordahl, Tucson, Ariz.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding her in death were her husband, Vernon Hysjulien; her father, Oliver Fordahl; her brothers, LeRoy and Clifford; and her sister, Carmen.
Floyd Steele Jr.
JAMESTOWN - Floyd J. Steele Jr., 58, Jamestown, died Dec. 4, 2001, in a Jamestown hospital. Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Haut Funeral Home, Jamestown.
He is survived by his wife, Dianna; two daughters, Doreen Quast, Lisbon, and Destiny Lindseth, Fargo; four grandchildrne; one step-granddaughter; one sister, Marlene Goodroad, Jamestown; and four brothers, Harvey, Mervin, Merlin and Darrel, all of Jamestown.
Phyllis Kelsch, Cortez, Colo., formerly of Williston, died Dec. 5, 2001, in Cortez. Arrangements are pending with Everson Funeral Home, Williston.
Bernard Stasney, 84, Mandan, died Dec. 5, 2001, in a Mandan care center. A memorial service will be held in the spring. Further arrangements are pending with Buehler-Larson Funeral Home, Mandan.
Marguerite Blanche Gerl, 84, passed away peacefully Dec. 4, 2001, in a Helena, Mont., care center. Services will be held at 10 a.m. MST Friday at Cathedral of St. Helena. Burial will be held in the summer in Alhambra, Ill.
A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. MST today at Retz Funeral Home, Helena.
Marguerite was born July 20, 1917, in St. Louis, Mo., the eldest of five children born to James Urban and Blanche Elizabeth (Yaggi) Duffin. She received her education in the St. Louis area.
On Sept. 25, 1936, Marguerite married Alvin Frederick Gerl at St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Wood River, Ill. They had two sons, James Frederic and Mark Stephen. In 1954, Alvin was transferred to the Standard Oil Refinery in Mandan. Marguerite and their two sons joined him in 1955.
Marguerite worked as an operator for AT&T and as a rural mail carrier in the early years of her marriage. Always an activist, she served as precinct committee woman for the Democratic Party from Alhambra, Ill., during the early 1950s. Her greatest joy, however, was her family, who remembers with fondness her wonderful cooking and their happy home. To say that Marguerite was an avid bingo player would be an understatement. She also enjoyed playing Scrabble and working crossword puzzles.
Alvin retired in 1972, and they returned to Alhambra, Ill., in 1973. Alvin died June 13, 1984. Marguerite moved to Helena in August 1987. She had been a resident at Cooney Convalescent Home since January 2001.
She is survived by her two sons and daughters-in-law, James and Eileen Gerl, Mandan, and Mark and Kathy Gerl, Helena; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and her brother, Lloyd Duffin, Alhambra, Ill.
Marguerite was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Alvin; her brother, Jerome; and her sisters, Dolores and Mary.
Memorials may be sent to the Cooney Convalescent Home Alzheimer's Unit, 2555 E. Broadway, Helena, Mont. 59601-9989.
ASHLEY - Naomi Schock, 84, Ashley, died Dec. 3, 2001, in the Ashley nursing home. Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Ashley Baptist Church, with the Rev. Darwin Stahl officiating. Honorary casketbearers will be all of the nurses and staff of Ashley Nursing Home. Casketbearers will be Ryan Pfeifle, Minneapolis, Larry Eckmann, Terry Steinwandt and Tim Steinwandt, all of Aberdeen, S.D., and Steve Fischer and Melvin Baumann, both of Ashley. Organist will be Ruth Jenner, and special music will be provided by LaVerna Wolf, Ethel Puhlman and Lana Christmann. Burial will be held at 3 p.m. in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Aberdeen.
Visitation will be held for one hour before services at the church.
Naomi Steinwandt, the daughter of Wilhelm and Emma (Zimmerman) Steinwandt, was born Oct. 13, 1917, on the family homestead in McPherson County, S.D. She grew up on the family homestead, and attended country school. She worked on the family farm and for neighbors.
She was united in marriage to John F. Schock on Nov. 23, 1943, at the Steinwandt homestead in McPherson County. They made their home there and farmed, raising small grains and livestock until 1971. They then moved to Aberdeen, where she was a homemaker. In 1975, they moved to Ashley. She entered the Ashley Nursing Home in July 1999. Her husband died Sept. 17, 2000. She continued to live in Ashley.
While on the farm, she had a large garden. She enjoyed cooking and baking, and did a lot of reading. Crossword puzzles were one of her favorite pastimes. She also had a knack of remembering everyone's birthday.
She was a member of Ashley Baptist Church and the Ladies Choir.
She is survived by two daughters, Diana (Orv) Mayer, Bismarck, and Wanda (Arnold) Bain, Aberdeen; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; one step-great-grandchild; two sisters, Edna Bertsch, Ashley, and Eunice (Al) Neuharth, Bismarck; and one brother, Wilbert (Norma) Steinwandt, Rapid City, S.D.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; one sister; and one brother. (Carlsen Funeral Home, Ashley)
MINOT - Theodore Bartsch, 90, Minot, died Dec. 3, 2001, in a Minot medical center. Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Minot. Burial will be in Rosehill Memorial Park, Minot.
He is survived by his wife, Mary; three sons, Anton, Minot, and Charles and Dennis, both of Bismarck; five daughters, Loretta Jobin, Cortland, Ill., Bertha Wald and Diane Wittmayer, both of Minot, Evelyn Burgard, Jamestown, and Barbara Schuette, Williston; 41 grandchildren; 57 great-grandchildren; one sister, Margaret Schatz, Harvey; one half-brother, Edward Heit, Karlsruhe; two half-sisters, Catherine Schatz, Bergen, and Tillie Bender, Sacramento, Calif.; and one stepsister, Rose Gervias, Yakima, Wash. (Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot)
BINFORD - Angeline Petterson, 90, Binford, died Dec. 4, 2001. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church, Binford. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
She is survived by one son, Anthony, Binford; four grandchildren; and one great-grandson. (Quam-Plaisted-Cushman Funeral Home, Cooperstown)