Obituary: Richard Paul Nord

Richard Paul Nord

Richard Paul Nord

Richard Paul Nord

1937 - 2023

With sadness, love and profound gratitude, the family of Richard Paul Nord announces his passing, at age 85, on February 17, 2023. He left on his final journey from Flagstaff, Arizona, surrounded by family. His unexpected death occurred as the result of head injuries he sustained in a fall while cleaning ice from the eaves of his home.

Richard is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Barbara Sharon (Bakke) Nord, daughters Gay Nord (son-in-law Jaime Roig) and Beth Nord, and grandsons Aidan and Bryce Roig, all of Flagstaff.

Richard leaves his siblings LeRoy Nord of Palmer, AK, Robert Nord of Mankato, MN and Bonnie Stassen of Inver Grove Heights, MN, and brothers-in-law John Bakke (Jenet) of Vernon Hills, IL and Robert Bakke of Lake Bluff, IL. Other survivors include nieces and nephews Steven Wesley (Kathleen), Sylvester Wesley (Debra), Kathryn Wesley (Steven Paprocki), Richelle Wesley (Barbara Bibeau), Jill Bakke (Walter Pancewicz), Joyce Varzandeh (Houman), James Bakke (Charlene), Leed Nord, Sabra Sturgis (Chris), and Cerise Nord (Lisa Larsen), as well as cousin (and fellow Rothsay storyteller) Barbara Fosse.

Richard is predeceased by his parents Oscar Hartvig Nord and Myrtle Josephine (Ronningen) Nord, and sisters-in-law Therese Nord (Robert) and Barbara Nord (LeRoy).

Whether you knew him as Richard, Dick, Dad, Dr. or Bumpa, if you knew Richard Nord, you knew he was a storyteller, a traveler, an educator and a college sports fan.

Richard was born into a Norwegian-American farm family in Minnesota. After his graduation from Rothsay High School in 1955, neither farming nor a brief stint in college felt like the right path, so Richard enlisted in the Navy. During his four years of service he achieved the rank of Petty Officer Second Class as an Electronics Technician. His assignments in the Pacific on the USS Wiltsie and USS Buck brought him to fascinating places including post-war Japan and Australian, and resulted in a multitude of stories told over the years. And the strong desire to keep traveling.

After separating from the Navy, Richard attended Moorhead State College where he completed his B.S. degree, and met his future wife, Barbara. After their December 1962 graduations and wedding, and a semester of teaching, they arrived at the University of Mississippi in 1963 to work on masters degrees.

Richard had been offered an NDEA scholarship (post-Sputnik funding to train science educators), and they thought Mississippi would be an interesting place to be (their time at Ole Miss overlapped with James Meredith’s attendance). Richard came away from Mississippi with a Master’s Degree, an appreciation of the local culture and, of course, stories.

After a brief stop to teach at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, Richard joined the Biology Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1966, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1970, and continued to teach at UW-L until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1995. He thrived on his relationships with fellow faculty and students. One highlight of his UW-L days was serving as a faculty chaperone on several Geography Department trips with Dr. Virgil Holder and UW-L students, to various locations in Mexico. As always, there were stories.

After retirement, Richard and Barbara moved to Clarkdale, Arizona and later Flagstaff, Arizona.

Travel remained a focus throughout Richard’s life. During his daughters’ childhoods, driving trips across the U.S. and Canada, with the tent in the perfectly packed trunk of the sedan, were regular summer events. Later, Turkey, Thailand, Egypt, China and Norway were but a few of Richard and Barbara’s foreign adventures, with many friendships made along the way.

And, at age 85, Richard wasn’t ready to be done. He had made reservations to travel with a tour group to Viet Nam in March. A return, he explained, to compare Viet Nam today to the Viet Nam he visited 20 years ago. His itinerary included visiting the homes of local Vietnamese families. More of the travel, learning, and storytelling that he cherished.

A memorial service is planned for March 18, 2023 at 11:00 a.m., at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, 330 Scenic Drive, Clarkdale. Memorial donations may be made to: Richard Nord Memorial Fund at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation. 615 East Avenue North, La Crosse, WI, 54601. 877-895-3863.

Information provided by the funeral home.

Donate Report a Typo Contact