Bemidji graduate Bob Norland continued family legacy in law enforcement
Law enforcement runs deep in the family of longtime Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Robert “Bob” Norland of Fertile. The Bemidji High School graduate died on Saturday, April 12 at the age of 75 at his home.
FERTILE, Minn. -- Law enforcement runs deep in the family of longtime Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Robert “Bob” Norland of Fertile. The Bemidji High School graduate died on Saturday, April 12 at the age of 75 at his home.
Norland’s father, Orielle, was a state trooper for 25 years and Beltrami County Sheriff for seven years. Bob’s sons, Brad and Mike, also work in law enforcement. Brad is a state trooper who lives in Fosston. Mike is a Polk County sheriff’s deputy. Bob’s nephew, Brain Schwartz, is a state trooper based in the Twin Cities.
Norland is being remembered as a hard worker, community booster and an avid fan of the community sports, say people who knew him.
A state trooper for 32 years, Norland inspired his son Brad to follow in his footsteps. Brad recalls seeing the respect with which his father treated people, and how they, in turn, respected him.
After he retired from his job as a trooper in 2000, the elder Norland worked for the Polk County Sheriff's Office for 11 years as a part-time bailiff and transport deputy.
“He was my hero, for sure,” Brad Norland said. ”That’s one of the main reasons I got into law enforcement.”
Brad learned from his father’s example.
“You worked hard, and you treated people the way you wanted to be treated. That was just huge with our family,” Brad said.
“He had a way about him that was just dignity and respect for everyone,” said Michael Moore, former owner of the Fertile Journal newspaper.
Though Bob Norland dedicated a lot of time to his job as a state trooper, he didn’t miss his kids' sporting events, which included baseball and football, Brad Norland said.
“He was a big sports fan, and he made it to our stuff, even though he was working,” Brad said.
His father also volunteered at the Sandhill River Golf Club in Fertile, helped build the Community Veterans Memorial there and was a member of the Polk County Fair Board for about 20 years. The Polk County Fair in Fertile is one of the oldest and most well-known fairs in northwest Minnesota.
“Bob was kind of a jack of all trades for the fair board," said Moore, who worked with him on the board. "He helped with the bike program. He helped organize the parade. He just helped. Bob was there whenever you needed it.”
His dad didn’t expect anything in return for his volunteer work at the fair, Brad Norland said.
“His reward for that was people were enjoying themselves,” he said. “Anybody that grew up and graduated from Fertile (School) just cherishes that fair because that’s when everybody comes back. It’s basically a school reunion every year,” he said.
“He was community- and civic-minded to the Nth degree. He had an attitude that was second to none. He was just a wonderful person to be around,” Moore said.
Bob was born in Hallock and grew up in Lancaster before his family moved to Bagley, and then Bemidji, where he graduated from Bemidji High School in 1963. He served in the U.S. Army for three years before joining the Minnesota Highway Patrol in 1968. He was stationed in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for three years before he and his wife, Verna, moved to Fertile.
He is survived by his wife; sons Brad, Mike and Tyler; six grandchildren; and sisters Nancy Schwartz and Becky Haskell of Bemidji.
A funeral service with military rites will be held for Norland at 11 a.m., Monday, April 19, at Concordia Lutheran Church in Fertile. All Minnesota and Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 distancing guidelines will be followed, and masks must be worn at the service.