Robert D. Fougner, 87, Minot, formerly of Williston, passed away Friday, March 29, 2013, at ManorCare Health Services in Minot.
Robert Duane "Bob" Fougner was born on his father's 26th birthday, May 9, 1925, near Froid, Mont., to Ingval and Angeline (Braaten) Fougner, of Bonetrail. When Bob was about 2 years old, the family moved to Williston, where he was raised and educated. He graduated with honors from Williston High School in 1943.
On Oct. 1, 1943, Bob enlisted in the Navy and served two and a half years. He was a radioman and participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa aboard the USS Terror, a minelayer and the flagship of the Pacific Mine Fleet. At Okinawa, the Terror was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze suicide plane and 48 of the crew were killed and 123 were wounded. Bob was off duty and below deck so was unhurt. The casualties were laid out on the fantail and he recalled walking across the area through blood as thick as the soles of his shoes. He was honorably discharged April 12, 1946, as a Radioman 2/C and returned to Williston.
Bob and his brother, Gene, also a Navy veteran, had planned to enter the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in the fall of 1946, but Gene was accidently killed in July, while working on a sewer construction project in Williston when the ditch caved in.
In the spring of 1946, Bob met Betty Jane Sims, originally from Alexander, who was a 1946 graduate of WHS and worked as a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell in Williston. They were married June 12, 1948, in Williston. They moved to Fargo, where she continued to work as a telephone operator and she's credited, along with the G.I. Bill, for putting Bob through his last three years of college. Bob attended UND for one year and then transferred to North Dakota State University in Fargo to study architecture, a five-year course.
He graduated with a bachelor of architecture degree in 1951, and that June they moved to Minot, where he served his three-year internship with longtime Minot architect, G.H. Bugenhagen, at a starting salary of $300 per month, which was pretty good in those days. Betty continued working for the telephone company in Minot until September 1952, when their first daughter, Cyd, was born.
After he earned his license to practice architecture, he had several partners, including James V. DeLoi, Floyd Kielhack, Arnold Hanson, Carl Picket, Edmond Leonard and Vern Hunter. They had branch offices in Williston, Devils Lake and Dickinson. In 1975, Bob set up his own private practice in Minot.
Some of the projects for which he was architect included: Banks: in Minot (American State Bank), Watford City, Beach, Dunseith, Linton, Fessenden, Velva, Stanley, Bottineau and Devils Lake; Churches: in Minot (Bethany Lutheran, Zion Lutheran, and Apostolic Faith Church), Westhope, Bismarck and Turtle Lake; College buildings: in Bottineau (men's dormitory and science building) and the Minot State University Student Union; Schools: Perkett Elementary in Minot and the junior high school at the Minot Air Force Base; Armories: in Minot and Cando; Miscellaneous Buildings: North Central Electric Co-Op headquarters building and their shop and garage building in Bottineau; McKenzie County Courthouse in Watford City; along with Wold Engineering Office and the Pewe Chiropractic Clinic, both in Bottineau. Many other buildings, additions and remodeling projects are scattered around the state.
Bob and Betty were longtime members of Bethany Lutheran Church in Minot, where he served 13 years on the church council and volunteered to work on the church's annual lutefisk dinner for many years. He was a member of the Minot American Legion Post #26, Elks Lodge, Eagles Aerie and the Moose Lodge, all of Minot. He was president of the McKinley Elementary School PTA for two terms and was awarded a lifetime membership in the PTA. He was a charter member of the Sertoma Club of Minot, and served as their president in 1968-69 and was a lifetime member. He also served on the Board of Adjustment for the City of Minot from 1975-85 and was chairman for most of those years. Since its inception, he worked every year at the Norsk Hostfest.
Bob's greatest pride and joy was his loving wife, six children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He became interested in genealogy and started tracing his roots in 1975. At first, he was just going to trace back a few generations so that his children would know something of their lineage, but the more he investigated, the more family information he found.
He enlisted the invaluable aid of his cousin, Agnes (Leom) Cushing, of Minot. Eventually they ended up with a book of more than 350 pages that included more than 1,200 living relatives with pictures of many of them. Also found were the names of some 2,000 ancestors dating back to the 1400s. The book was published in 1986 and it eventually led to a Fougner-Leom family reunion in 1988, held at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds in Minot. Attendees included 200 relatives of which 17 were from Norway.
Bob and Betty traveled to Norway in 1994 and were royally treated by relatives met at the reunion. He then completed similar books on the other three branches so his children now have both maternal and paternal family histories.
Their children all came to Minot in July 1998 to celebrate Bob and Betty's 50th wedding anniversary, but on July 16, 1998, it was discovered that Betty had terminal cancer. Instead of a celebration, the kids came home to support Bob and then took turns coming back so that he was never alone. Betty passed away on Aug. 18, 1998, and was buried in Williston.
The family was very proud of him for being independent for so long. He kept his mind sharp by playing crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other games on his computers. He was current on politics and read the paper every day. He loved to surf the Web. He took photos and videos with his iPad and then uploaded them to his children until the end of his life. He donated hearing devices to his church and was an advocate for the hearing impaired in other ways. He mailed out his own Christmas cards, Christmas gifts and birthday cards to the children, never missing a year. He was much loved and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
Surviving family includes: six children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; daughters: Cyd (Peter) Dolliver, Gig Harbor, Wash.; Kristi McNeese, Knoxville, Tenn., and her children, Angela, of Omaha, Neb., son Daniel McNeese (Michelle), of Baton Rouge, La., and their two children, Jayden and Lucas; Mia (Mervin) Myrvik, and her children, Erika and Asa, all of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Erin Fougner, Wichita, Kan.; sons: Jeffrey (Sandy Loge) Fougner, and their children, Ryan, Christopher and Tyler, all of Minneapolis; and Eric Fougner, Apple Valley, Minn., and his children, Leslie Jo and Jordan, both of Rosemount, Minn.; brother, John Fougner, Williston; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Betty; and brothers, Eugene and Donald Fougner.
Funeral: Saturday, April 6, 2013, at 10 a.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, Minot.
Interment: Saturday at 2 p.m. at Riverview Cemetery, Williston.
Visitation: Friday, April 5, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot.
Memorials: Those wishing to sign the online register and share memories may access the online obituaries section at (www.thompsonlarson.com).