Alf Odegaard

Funeral services were held Thursday, December 7 at Atonement Lutheran Church in St. Cloud, MN for Alf Thorson Odegaard, age 101, of St. Cloud, MN, who passed away Sunday, December 3, 2017 at home with his family by his side. Rev. John Gabrielson officiated and interment was at Old East Paint Creek Church, Waterville Friday, December 8. Arrangements were entrusted to Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN.

Alf Thorson Odegaard was born June 12, 1916 on the family farm in Center Township, Allamakee County, Waterville. He was the third of three children born to Otto Albert (Hanson) Odegard and Barbara Oline Thorson Odegard. He attended rural school located at the corner of his home farm. He graduated from Waterville Consolidated High School as salutatorian in 1932 at the age of 15. He had scholarship offers to Luther and St. Olaf, but because of his young age and lack of money during the Depression, he stayed home and worked on the farm with this father.

He changed the spelling of his last name after his pastor wrote his surname with two “a”s on his confirmation certificate in 1931. He attended Waukon Junior College - many days serving as the substitute math teacher - and graduated in 1936. He then attended Iowa State College and graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education.  He was elected to Phi Kappa Phi (an honorary scholastic society) and Gamma Sigma Delta (an honorary agricultural society).

At a “dime dance” at the Memorial Union, he met his future wife, Barbara Irvin John. With the start of WW II, he enlisted in the V-7 program, part of the United States Naval Reserve, in April 1942 and received his commission as Ensign in February 1943. He returned to Minneapolis, MN and married Barbara February 19, 1943.

He was assigned to serve aboard the USS WOODWORTH in a war zone in the SW Pacific as a deck officer and communications officer. The ship was awarded seven battle stars and credited with shooting down nine enemy planes and sinking three enemy ships. At his own request, he was released to inactive duty but remained in the Naval Reserve until 1968. He retired with the rank of Commander.

After his release from the Navy, he enrolled in graduate school at Iowa State College in 1947. He earned a Master of Science degree in March 1949. He taught part-time classes in Farm Mechanics, Farm Carpentry and Farm Operations during his graduate years. He accepted employment with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in September 1950 as field representative in its Farm Loan division. He was assigned to the Minnesota Branch Office in January 1951, to the Marshall Field Office in November 1951, and back to Mankato in November 1956. He retired from Metropolitan in 1981.

He and Barbara were active in many community and church activities during their 45 years in Mankato, MN. They were members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and he served many years on the Board of Deacons, as VP and President of the Council.  He was the Village of Skyline clerk for eight years, a member of Mankato Golden Kiwanis for 16 years, a Life Member of the U.S. Naval Institute, Naval Reserve Association, member of the American Legion since 1952, and a member of Sons of Norway since 1981.

For health reasons, he and Barbara moved to St. Cloud, MN to be closer to family members. He joined Atonement Lutheran Church in April 2002 and participated in the Thursday Men’s Bible Study. He was so proud and happy that he could live independently even though he truly missed having his car. He was still buying green bananas and shopping at Sam’s Club.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Barbara; his parents; his siblings, Marion Gabrielson and Raymond Odegard; and a granddaughter, Stephanie Schmidt. He is survived and will be greatly missed by his family: his children, Judy (Steve) Heslop of Pequot Lakes, MN, Susan (Terry) Schmidt of St. Cloud, MN, Louise Odegaard of Albuquerque, NM and John (Barbara) Odegaard of Washington D.C.; his grandchildren, Jennifer (John) Japel of Lakeville, MN, Katie (Shane) McCarthy of Highlands Ranch, CO, Jacquelin Heslop (Dan Hoxter) of St. Cloud, MN, LT  Katherine Odegaard, U.S. Navy stationed on the USS Harry S Truman, CAPT Adam Odegaard, USMC of Quantico, VA, and 2nd LT Lauren Odegaard, U.S. Army Nurse Corps of Ft. Lewis, WA; and his great-grandchildren, Tyler and Jack Japel, and Madeline, Emily and William McCarthy.

Memorials are preferred to Atonement Lutheran Church. Obituary, Guest Book and Video Tribute are available online at

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