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Pastor Ralph Rusley

Pastor Ralph Rusley

Pastor Ralph Rusley, 89, of Bemidji, MN died Monday, September 30, 2013 at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.

Memorial Services will be 3:00 p.m., Thursday, October 3, 2013 at the First Lutheran Church, Bemidji with Pastor Corey Fuhrman officiating. Family will greet friends one hour prior to the service at the church. Inurnment will be in Winnebago Lutheran Cemetery, Lake Mills, IA.

Ralph Stanton Rusley was born November 29, 1923 in Lake Mills, Iowa to Ole and Selma (Grothe) Rusley. He grew up in Lake Mills where he graduated high school. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII until 1945. Ralph attended St. Olaf College in Northfield and Luther Northwestern Seminary in Minneapolis. On June 3, 1950 he married Dorothy Larsen in LaGrange, IL. They lived in Minneapolis, Minn. until August 1950, Brooklyn, N.Y. August 1950-August 1951, Minneapolis 1951-1952, Rolla, North Dakota 1952-1956, Ellendale, N.D. 1956-1958, West Fargo, N.D. 1958-1972, Grand Forks, N.D. 1972-1977, North of West Fargo, N.D. 1977-1998, Fargo, N.D. 1998-2000 and have lived in Bemidji since 2000. Ralph began his career serving parishes in Rolla, ND and Ellendale, ND. Ralph served at Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo and Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, ND. While in West Fargo, he was granted a semester at the Harvard Divinity School as a Merrill Fellow where he studied in the fall of 1966. While Ralph and Dorothy served the parish in Grand Forks, they kept the house they had lived in north of West Fargo, returning to this home in 1976. In September of 1976 Pastor Rusley accepted a letter of Call to the University Lutheran Center in Fargo, ND. There he was instrumental in initiating a lecture series entitled Science and Theology that was eventually broadcast as a radio lecture series. Pastor Rusley eventually retired from Ministry in 1988 after finishing this career at the University Lutheran Center. He was awarded a travel grant as the Distinguished Campus Pastor of the year during the last year of his service and was able to travel to Europe with a Concordia college tour. Pastor Rusley retired to his home North of West Fargo with Dorothy and lived in the river house until 1998 when they moved into apartments near West Acres in Fargo. During these years they were members of Olivet Lutheran Church. In 2000, after their 50th wedding anniversary, they moved to Bemidji, MN to live in a condominium on Scenic Shore Lane. His great loves were family, friends, hunting, fishing, and the cabin at Lake Kabekona. In 2002 they moved to an apartment for the aging at Birch Haven and in 2004 they moved into GoldPine Assisted Living where Dorothy Rusley died on April 7, 2009.

He is survived by daughter, Jean (Kit) Christensen of Bemidji; 2 sons, Mark Rusley of Algonquin, IL and Erik (Anne) Rusley of St. Louis Park, MN; 4 grandchildren, Michael (Cathy Tuey) Christensen, Sonja Christensen, Calvin Rusley and Beck Rusley.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ole and Selma Rusley and wife, Dorothy Rusley.

Memorials are preferred to Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and Kabekona Lake Foundation.

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