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Doris Esther Bjerke
Doris Bjerke (1938-2021)
Doris passed away unexpectedly on February 10th, 2021 at her residence in the Memory Care facility of Hawthorn Court in Ahwatukee (Phoenix), Arizona. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert, her brothers Albert and Donald, her sisters Avis, Alice and Dorothy.
Doris was born to Jacob and Hulda (Uttke) Heinitz, September 29, 1938 on the family ranch just north of Morristown SD, one of 7 children. She was raised on the farm, eventually attending High School by boarding in Lemmon, SD and graduated in 1953 at age 16. She moved to Bismarck, ND, to take secretarial courses and started her professional career there as a secretary and bookkeeper.
Doris thrived at her work as a secretary, deciding to move to Fargo where she took employment, first in the Registrar's Office at NDSU and later as the head secretary for the founding partner, attorney Herman Wegner at his namesake firm. She also enjoyed her working-girl years, sharing apartments with roommates with whom she stayed in contact throughout her life.
She met her future husband, Robert (Bob), at a dance hall in Fargo and they married in 1959, soon moving north of Fargo to the Harwood area, a half mile from his parents on the family farmstead. With the coming of their firstborn, she became a stay-at-home mother but continued to work for the law firm during the busy tax season for many years. After the death of Bob's father, the couple, now with three children, Allan, Kay and Brad, moved to the family farmstead.
With Bob a full-time farmer, Doris became a more than full-time farm wife, busy with all the operations along with managing the home office. One of the most important and time-consuming tasks was keeping the family of five--plus hired men--continually fed. Doris was considered by many to be an excellent cook, winning blue ribbons for her perennial favorite, Apple Pie, for years at the Harwood Pie Contest. In the long Dakota winters, she crocheted her way through many warm afghan blankets. The Bjerke family attended church at nearby Harwood Zion Lutheran Church, where Doris served on the Ladies' Auxiliary.
Doris and Bob worked on the farm until his passing in 2005, at which time she moved to a newly built home in Tucson, AZ. Doris walked every morning in her retirement community, enjoying the mountain scenery, watching the dramatic weather, and getting to know her neighbors through activities like Mahjong, "Putters" golf, Bunko, and many lunchtime get-togethers. She spent her last few years living in retirement communities in the Ahwatukee Foothills area of Phoenix, near her sons.
Doris is survived by her sister Alaine (Roger) Haugen of Hawley MN; her two sons, Allan (Laura), Phoenix AZ and Brad (Gayle), Chandler AZ; a daughter, Kay (Fred) Jonas, Minneapolis MN. She has five grandchildren: Allison George & Blake Bjerke (Allan), Brianna and Rachel Bjerke (Brad), Allegra Jonas (Kay) and three great-grandsons: Connor, Hudson and Landon George (Allison). Happily, most of us will remember Doris' chocolate-chip cookies.
The family plans to have a memorial gathering later this year in North Dakota when we can all be together to celebrate her life and share our special memories. Doris will be interred at Oakwood Cemetery in Harwood ND, next to her husband Robert.
In lieu of cards and flowers, please share your condolences and memories on the Tribute section. Memorials may be sent to support Oakwood Cemetery for general upkeep of these beautiful grounds next to the Sheyenne River.
Checks can be written to Oakwood Cemetery and mailed to:
Eric Olerud, Treasurer
2444 165th Ave SE. Argusville, ND 58005
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