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Mark F. Purdy

January 26, 2011
Minot Daily News

June 20, 1927-Jan. 21, 2011

Mark F. Purdy, 83, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, in a Minot hospital.

He had lived in Minot most of his life, and had practiced law in his home community for 42 years.

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He was born June 20, 1927, in Minot, a son of Mark A. and Edna (LaFleur) Purdy. Raised in Minot, he attended Roosevelt Elementary School and Minot Junior High School before transferring as a 10th-grader to St. Leo's High School. He excelled as a basketball player and was a member of the St. Leo's team that won the State Class B Championship in 1943. He graduated from St. Leo's in 1945 and enlisted in the Navy. He served stateside, and besides performing his assigned duties, extended his basketball career as a member of the base team where he was stationed. Following his military discharge in 1946, he returned to Minot and enrolled at Minot State University, then known as Minot State Teachers College. He earned a bachelor of science degree in 1950.

He married Elaine L. Herigstad at Minot on Sept. 2, 1948. In 1950, they welcomed a baby girl, Diane. Following his college graduation, they moved to Carpio where he served as high school principal, teacher and coach from 1951 to 1953. Then they moved to Grand Forks where he enrolled in the University of North Dakota Law School, and while there, son Michael was born in 1955. After earning a law degree in 1957, they moved to Williston where he practiced law for two years.

They returned to Minot in 1959. He joined the Minot law firm of Pringle & Herigstad PC, founded by his wife's father, O.B. Herigstad, in the early 1900s. He remained there as a practicing partner through his retirement. His wife, Elaine, died Aug. 20, 1989.

On March 2, 1991, he married Clarice Sandberg Mack at Minot. Their paths first crossed when he was a principal and coach at the Carpio School. She was a student of his and also put in time as a baby sitter for Mark and Elaine's daughter.

Perhaps it was while living in Williston that his passionate interests in politics and government first surfaced. This was part of his family history, after all. His grandfather, Napoleon LaFleur, had been police and fire commissioner in the 1920s. Among Mark's activities in Williston was his chairmanship of the legislative reapportionment committee of the Williston Junior Chamber of Commerce.

When he and his family moved back to Minot, his political activity deepened, particularly after he met Larry Erickson and Gary Williamson, long active in Democrat politics. This band of brothers achieved both fame and notoriety at local and state levels, especially during the heady days of Democrat victories in winning seats to the State Legislature in the 1960s. The trio first met in 1964 at a local television station where Mark was moderator for political candidates' television appearances. Erickson and Williamson were seeking election to the State House of Representatives; both were elected.

In 1967 at the North Dakota Democratic Convention which Erickson chaired, Mark Purdy was elected North Dakota National Committeeman for the Democrat Party, serving until 1969.

Their friendship and fraternity as Democrat supporters continued unabated in the years to follow. All three visited Washington frequently, their trips including invitations to the White House Oval Office during the Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter administrations where they spoke for the interests of North Dakota. Mark attended the inauguration of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Mark's other big passion, one he pursued for many years, was Notre Dame football. For the past 30 years, he attended several games during the football season. He also was a fan of the New York Yankees baseball team and of the Green Bay Packers professional football team.

He was an avid reader and a loving grandfather, having acquired the titles, "Gramps" and "Papa."

He is survived by: his wife, Clarice; a son, Michael (Nancy) Minot; Clarice's children, Carolyn (Jeff) Long, Kyllburg, Germany, and Diane (John) Hedlund, Rochester, Minn.; son-in-law, Robert (Shanna) Vanlaningham, Fargo; six grandchildren, Jeff (Heidi) Vanlaningham, Sarah (Sean) Anderson, Triston Desjarlais, Cody and Cole Long, and Ava Hedlund; great-grandchildren, Mark, Abgail and Ella Vanlaningham, Luke, Jordan and Karah Anderson; brothers, Paul A. Purdy, Minot, and James N. Purdy, Bismarck. A number of nieces and nephews also survive.

He was preceded in death by: his first wife, Elaine; a daughter, Diane Vanlaningham; his parents; a brother, Mike; and a sister, Patricia Purdy.

Funeral: Thursday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m., in St. Leo's Catholic Church, Minot.

Visitation and vigil service: Today, Jan. 26, from 2 to 5:30 p.m., with the vigil service at 5:30 p.m., all at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot.

Burial: Rosehill Memorial Park, Minot.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials to an organization of the donor's choice.

Those wishing to sign the online register and share memories may access the online obituaries section at (



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