American Veteran 01

Richard "Dick" LeRoy Okerlund

November 2, 1946 ~ June 1, 2020 (age 73)

Obituary

Richard (Dick) LeRoy Okerlund passed away at his home in Trego, WI, on June 1, 2020.  Dick was born on November 2, 1946, in Braham, MN, to Burton Wallace and Sylvia Marcella (Larson) Okerlund.  He was a graduate of Braham High School, Class of 1964.  After high school he enlisted in the military and upon completion of his services, he entered the emerging field of computers.  He was certified in many aspects of computer science, including as an Electronic Retina Computing Reader Field Engineer, at a time when a single computer filled an entire room.

Dick married Lois Truh in 1969 and had two daughters.  He worked for Recognition Equipment, Incorporated (REI) in 1969 for over 15 years.  He married Jacquelen Carlson in 1986, and it was then that he left corporate America to become a successful small business owner of PC Heaven (computer sales and service).  In 1995 he sold the business he created and returned to corporate IT work for Smiths Medical, followed by working for Home Depot.  There he was able to share his passions for do-it-yourself projects, helping customers find what they really needed to fix a problem, and sharing his skills with the inexperienced do-it-yourself customer.

Dick was a veteran of the Vietnam War, where his experiences formed an important part of his identity.  He served honorably in the Army as a medic and earned an Expert Marksmanship Medal.  His medic experiences with both soldiers and civilians, notably children and burn victims, was something that stayed with him throughout his life.  He worked very diligently and was very open about his struggles with PTSD.  He shared a strong bond to those with similar experiences and advocated others with mental health struggles from PTSD to also seek support.

In the early 1970s, while living in Ohio, he volunteered to assist Boy Scouts of America events and shared his skills in fishing, hunting, and camping.  He spent time protecting children via fostering and helping children, by working with them at the Spooner Elementary after-school programs.  He enjoyed tutoring opportunities and was a smiling face that welcomed them to share their hard-earned skills by listening to a book or high-fiving a grade well earned.

During his life he was a resident of Stanchfield, Anoka, Eagan, and Blaine, MN, and Columbus and Findlay, OH, before retiring to his dream home in Trego, WI, where he enjoyed spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

Dick’s hobbies included cooking, fishing, woodworking, and gardening.  He was also skilled in many aspects of construction - framing, drywalling, plumbing, and electrical - making him a jack-of-all-trades who built many ‘deluxe’ sheds and impressive home additions.  Love of service and community shone in his stories of the afterschool program at Spooner Elementary School.  Dick was known for his skills of engaging anyone within talking distance, his easy-going nature, and infectious laugh.  He always had a long list of plans for projects he wanted to do, foods he wanted to try, and things he wanted to do for others.

Dick left behind a narrative legacy of his life.  From his old report cards, registration, and vaccination documents, as well as letters written to his parents during his time in Vietnam, to documentation of many awards and much recognition throughout his career.  Certificates of membership to organizations such as the National Association of Medics & Corpsmen (NAMC) and certificates of training with Control Data Institute in 1968 for Computer Technology.  He left lists of things he wanted to do in his house and garden, lists of things he wanted to do for others, and at least 1000 small post-its marking the recipes that he wanted to try.

His absence will be felt by his family, his friends and neighbors, the Re-Store in Spooner, and many locations of the Menards corporation.  Though he will not be here to help bring people to tears with laughter, his sense of humor was a family trait, shared by his siblings and a unique gift that will be passed down through the generations.

Dick is survived by his children, Mera Okerlund Colling and Heather (Robert) Okerlund Rodgers; six grandchildren:  Evan Colling, Rowen Colling, Rachel Colling, Reese Rodgers, Julia Rodgers, and Daniel Rodgers; step-children Carla (Rob) Kalland Hill, Darin Kalland, and Cari Kalland Acker; step-grandchildren Robyn (Rob) Hill Glab, Calvin Hill, Will Acker, CJ Acker, Rylee LaDoucer and Rayna LaDoucer; and step-great-grandchild Rita Glab; sisters Lucille (Herb) Sikkink and Vianne (Robert) Stehlik; brothers Eugene (Marcia) Okerlund and Larry (Wendy) Okerlund; and many nieces and nephews.  Dick was preceded in death by his beloved wife Jacquelen Okerlund, his parents Sylvia Larson Okerlund and Burton Okerlund, and his dogs Bandit and Abby.

In light of health concerns regarding Covid-19, a memorial will be announced at a later time.  Memorials may be directed to Mera Okerlund Colling, 32115 Northfield Blvd, Northfield, MN, 55057.  Stories, photos, and videos are welcomed and encouraged and may also be shared with his family via email to mehecabin@gmail.com.  Please contact his family if you would like to be notified of electronic memorials or possible in-person services that could not be held at this time.

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