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 Otto Lawrence Bernhoft

Otto Lawrence Bernhoft

Hallson, Pembina County, North Dakota, USA
Death 28 Nov 2007 (aged 92)
Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 100113364 · View Source
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Otto L. Bernhoft, 92, of Fargo, ND, died Wednesday, November 28, 2007, at Elim Care Center, Fargo, ND.

Otto Lawrence Bernhoft was born in Hallson, North Dakota, on November 11, 1915, the 13th of 15 children of Icelandic immigrant farmers. He attended Hensel High School and Mayville State Teachers' College.

After his first year of teaching at Harvey High School, Otto married Irene Viola Ralston on June 13, 1941. He then served as Superintendent of Schools at Thompson, ND. After one year of teaching and coaching at Thompson, he was drafted into the US Army and became a noncommissioned officer (staff sergeant) instructor in artillery at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; Camp Polk, Louisiana; and other locations.

After WWII, Otto began a 40 year career in teaching and administration in the Fargo Public School System, completing his Master's Degree at NDSU. He taught chemistry at Central High School in Fargo, functioned in the roles of Dean of Boys, Vice-Principal, and Principal at Central High School and South High Schools, and as Assistant Superintendent, Director of Personnel, and retired in 1980 as Principal at McKinley Elementary School. His students will remember Otto's favorite aphorism: "There is only one way to coast, and that's downhill" as this statement reflected his belief in hard work.

Forty years of students and teachers benefited from Otto's high standards, clarity in teaching and leadership, and excellence in administration, tempered by kindness.

Otto was instrumental in lobbying for and securing retirement benefits for the ND retired teachers and often filled leadership roles in organizations such as The Gideons, the Circle K, the First Lutheran Intercessors, and the Icelandic Klub. He was a Phi Delta Kappa Emeritus member and in 1984, received the Mayville State University Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. In 1984, he was inducted into Who's Who in North Dakota, and in 1988, 1991, and 1992, he was awarded the AARP Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Community Service. In 1989, Otto was the North Dakota State Retired Teachers Association President, and in 1990, he received the organization's Golden Apple Award.

Otto and Irene Bernhoft had four children, Larry, a Northern Minnesota wildlife biologist who died of cancer in 1982, leaving his widow Pat and two daughters, Kari and Krista; Dr. Franklin Bernhoft, a psychologist in Lodi, CA, and his wife, Dorothy, his son, Brady, and two daughters Kimberley and Heather; Dr. Robin Bernhoft of Ojai, CA, a surgeon and environmental physician, his wife, Alison, three sons, Iain, Andrew and Evan, and three daughters, Fiona, Deirdre and Sheila; and Dr. Ruth Hansten of Port Ludlow WA, an RN and hospital consultant, with her husband Philip and two sons, Matthew and Kirk.

Otto was preceded in death by his wife, Irene, in June of 2007, and his son, Larry. Otto's three remaining children, thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren celebrate Otto's life and his legacy of honesty and integrity. Otto's children request that bequests are made to First Lutheran, Elim Care Center, the Gideons, or the ND Retired Teachers Association.


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  • Created by: Truman Bratteli
  • Added: 3 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100113364
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Otto Lawrence Bernhoft (11 Nov 1915–28 Nov 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100113364, ; Maintained by Truman Bratteli (contributor 47361312) Unknown.