Richard Bjornson, 82, of Williston, passed away at the Bethel Lutheran Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Williston on Friday morning, August 12, 2022.
His Funeral Service will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, August 19, 2022, at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Williston. Rev. Steve Lundblom will officiate. A graveside service will be held Monday, August 22, 2022 at the Mountain Cemetery, Mountain, ND..
Visitation will be on Thursday, August 18, from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM and on Friday from 9:00 AM until noon at the Everson-Coughlin Funeral Home and on Friday for the hour preceding the service at the church.
Richard K. Bjornson was born January 19, 1940, at home near Milton, ND to Kristjan and Gudrun (Johnson) Bjornson. He was the fourth of six children. He grew up near Svold, ND and attended country school until the family moved to Mountain, ND in December 1950. He was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith.
He was an active youth - the center and captain for the Mountain Warhawks basketball team, and a member of the Sunnyside 4-H Club’s award-winning grain judging team. He worked on farms and at the Mountain Cash Store during his high school years and graduated from Mountain High School in 1958.
He married his high-school sweetheart, Janyce Gudmundson, at Vikur Icelandic Lutheran Church on November 22, 1958, in Mountain, ND. They are the proud parents of three sons Rick, Jeff, and Greg.
After they married, Richard worked for a local carpenter and then for the North Dakota Truck Regulatory Department at the scale in Grand Forks and Carrington, ND.
In 1966, he took the test for the North Dakota Highway Patrol, and furthered his education in 1976 by attending Northwestern University Traffic Institute in Evanston, IL. Richard had a successful and decorated 28-year career in law enforcement. He rose through the ranks from Patrolman to Major and was stationed in Cando, Carrington, Williston, and headquarters in Bismarck, ND.
Among his many accomplishments, he received the North Dakota Governor’s Award of Excellence in Public Safety and served as the department’s first accreditation manager, and the Highway Patrol became the first nationally accredited department in the state of North Dakota. He was instrumental in getting the North Dakota Peace Officers Association memorial placed on the state capitol grounds in Bismarck. In 1994, he served as President of the North Dakota Peace Officers Association and retired from the North Dakota Highway Patrol with the rank of Major. He was awarded North Dakota’s Peace Officer of the Year in 1997 and received the Lone Eagle Award in 2001.
His career also included working for the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office and the North Dakota Safety Council. He taught for many years at the North Dakota Highway Patrol Training Academy in Bismarck. He enjoyed the many recruits that came to work for the department and was instrumental in their training and a mentor to them all. He continued in retirement organizing North Dakota Highway Patrol reunions and coffee groups.
He served his community over 20 years volunteering through the Make a Wish Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Lion’s Club, Moose & Elk’s Clubs, Trinity Lutheran Church Councilman and Usher in Bismarck.
He was very proud of his Icelandic heritage. He and Janyce made two trips to Iceland to trace their Icelandic roots. He loved to spend time in his hometown of Mountain, ND, staying at the family home, and keeping track of friends and relatives. In August of 2021, Richard and Janyce were honored to be named Grand Marshals of the August the Deuce Icelandic Parade in Mountain, North Dakota.
He enjoyed country music, playing guitar, going on trips to Nashville and visiting friends and relatives throughout the US and Canada. He also enjoyed golfing, sudoku, playing pinochle, and keeping his yard in tip-top shape.
Richard was a family man, and his most treasured moments were spent with his wife and their sons. The “apple of his eye” were his beloved granddaughters, Allison and Magi. Papa was especially proud of Allison’s career as an elementary teacher and celebrated Magi’s interests whether showing horses or cheering her on in basketball. His love ran deep for all his family including his nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Lois Sevigny and Judy Rustan, and brothers Fred and Boyd Bjornson.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Janyce, his sons, Rick (Zona) and their daughter Allison of Williston, ND., Jeff (Becky) of Moorhead, MN., and Greg (Jaci) and their daughter Magi of Farmington, MN, his brother Roger Bjornson of Gold Bar, WA., and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
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