In Memory of those who have left us to be with our Savior
The Rev. Stephen R. Ellerbush
Dec 11,1948-Jun 5, 2017
It is with sadness that I must notify you of the death of The Reverend Stephen R. Ellerbusch
Pastor Stephen Ray Ellerbusch was born in Cherokee, IA, on December 11, 1948, the son of Ruby and Fred Ellerbusch. He grew up in Holstein, IA, and later moved to Ralston, NE, and then Bellevue, NE, where he was the catcher of a State Championship baseball team.
Steve attended St. Olaf College where he met and married Carol Anderson. Steve was later inducted into the St. Olaf College Athletic Hall of Fame as the catcher and most valuable player of the three-year conference championship baseball team.
Steve attended Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN and served as a Lutheran pastor for 40 years in the following churches: Grace Lutheran Church, Marshfield, WI; Grace Lutheran Church, Winchester, WI; Hope Lutheran Church, Sioux Center, IA; Bethany Lutheran Church, Emmetsburg, IA; Swan Valley Lutheran Church, Leader, MN; Maple Hill Lutheran Church, Pine River, MN; and as a visitation pastor at First Lutheran Church in Brainerd, MN. Steve loved the many parishioners that he had the privilege of serving. Steve was passionate about preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus Christ.
Steve's other passion was his family! Steve was an awesome husband, and father to his three children, Ben, Morgen, and Erin. Steve loved spending time with his children and later with his six grandchildren, Karlton, Kaya, Hudson, Lincoln, Annalise, and Daniel, doing anything and everything they wanted to do. They brought him pure joy!
Steve' other interests included designing and building many beautiful woodworking projects, playing the guitar, planting trees and gardens, reading and Bible study, playing many sports, walking and numerous outdoor activities.
Steve is survived by his wife Carol, son Benjamin (Courtney) Ellerbusch, Annalise and Daniel, of Highlands Ranch,CO; daughter Morgen (Mark) Juel, Hudson and Lincoln, of Baxter, MN; daughter Erin (Hans) Anderson, Karlton and Kaya, of Baxter, MN; three sisters Kristin (Mark) Gallagher; Karen Fetty; Rhonda (David) Schoenmaker; sisters-in-law Kay (Jim) Johnson; Karen (Mark) Aamot; Cathy Anderson; brother-in-law David Asleson; and many loving extended family.
Steve passed away on June 5, 2017 at his home and was preceded in death by his parents, infant brother Craig Ellerbusch, brother-in-law Paul Anderson, and sister-in-law Donna Asleson.
The visitation and memorial service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Brainerd, MN on Sunday, June 11. The visitation will be from 10:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m. followed by the celebration of Steve's life at 12:30 p.m. Pastors are invited to attend, vested in white. Gather at 12 noon.
In lieu of flowers, the family will be making donations to cancer research, Heifer International, and the American Red Cross. Steve was a long time blood donor and later recipient of numerous blood transfusions. Blood donors save lives!
Thanks be to God for the power of the Resurrection!
Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
June 7, 2017
The Rev. John Hogenson-Rutford
November 3, 1958 to January 4, 2017
John let his light so shine before others… and, more than anything else, John wanted his life to make a difference. He was born in Owatonna, MN. He attended St. Anthony Park Elementary and graduated from Murray High School, Gustavus Adolphus College and Luther Theological Seminary. He served Grace Lutheran 1989 - pastor, Brandon, MN; Martin Luther Manor/ Meadowoods 1992 - Chaplain, Bloomington, MN; Bethlehem Lutheran 1994 - Sr. Pastor, Grand Marais, MN and Trinity Lutheran 1994, Hovland, MN; St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran 2000 - Executive Pastor, Plymouth, MN; St. Andrew's Lutheran 2007 - Lead Pastor, Mahtomedi, MN; and Mount Olivet Lutheran Church 2014 - Sr. Pastor, Mpls, MN. He was thankful and a bit amazed that he served 3 out of the top 10 largest ELCA congregations. He served on many organizational boards and committees, including trustee at Gustavus Adolphus College. He enjoyed his time with Ruth and the girls, the dogs, running, using his road/mountain bikes, driving his 1949 red truck, writing, reading the Bible and leadership books, road trips with the family, and having fun. He was well known for his sense of humor, but not for his driving directions. His favorite places were Grand Marais, Siesta Key, Jackson Hole and being somewhere with a good friend and a good beverage. He looked so forward to being a grandpa and shared many times that he will miss being an ongoing part of their lives. With his generous spirit, he donated his brain/ tumor to Mayo clinic. That's one way to get rid of a brain tumor. He is survived by: wife Ruth Hogenson-Rutford; daughters Kelly (Brian) McKenzie, Jana Hogenson, Kate Hogenson; grandchildren Connor and Megan; brother Matt (Colleen) Hogenson; step-mother Gayle Hogenson; step-brother Chris (Katy) Nelson; step-sister Katie Gonzalez; mother-in-law Donna Rutford; brother in law Doug (Sue) Rutford; sister in laws Lori Rogers and Mary Rutford; aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his dad, Dennis Hogenson, and his mom, Faye Cook Hogenson. We think they were impatiently waiting for him to arrive in heaven. The last two years have taken a loving, dedicated "village" of family, friends, and our churches to make life work. I cannot thank this crew enough - Kelly/Brian, Jana, Kate, Matt, Colleen, Chris, Katie, Donna, Gayle, Doug, Steve, Chuck, Duane, Mike, Jim, Jeff, Phil, Japheth, Brad, Sue O, Carolyn, Sharon, Kari, Lynn, Sue S, Cindy, Sally, the Hogenson's, the Rutford's, the Nelson's, Dr. Rousey, Dr. Groth, Mount Olivet Church, Home, and Rolling Acres, St. Andrew's, the CaringBridge "congregation", Lakeview Health Foundation, St. Andrew's Preschool. All together, along with so many, many more, they helped make this work for us. Memorials preferred in lieu of flowers to the John Hogenson family, Mount Olivet, and the John D. & Ruth Hogenson-Rutford endowment for church relations at Gustavus. Memorial service 11 am 1/14/17, Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Ave S, Mpls, 55419. Visitation 1 hr before service. www.mtolivet.org. www.Washburn-McReavy.com Edina Chapel 952-920-3996
It is with sadness that I must notify you of the death of
The Reverend Richard J. Lafer
Pastor Richard "Dick" J. Lafer, of Baxter, MN died Monday, October 10, 2016 at the age of 90.
Dick was born April 29, 1926 in Toledo, Ohio to Mary (Jameson) and Edward Lafer. Dick was a WWII veteran. He will be deeply missed by his wife, Olive; children, Mark (Kelley) of Phoenix, AZ, Richard Jr. of Pillager, MN, Lea (Mel) Coe of Atlanta, GA, and Dorene (Neal) Weltzin of Cumberland, WI; grandchildren, Ben (Brittany), Nathan (Casey), Micah, Michael, Bryson; and brother, Phil of Idaho. Preceded by his parents; and brother, Edward Jr.
Pastor Mark Skinner (Bethlehem Lutheran, Brainerd) writes:
Dick served as our visitation pastor at Bethlehem until 2008. A beloved pastor and friend to many in our congregation and the community. Our prayers are with Olive, Pastor Dick's wife, and their family, and Bethlehem in Brainerd. Many may remember Dick, and perhaps would like to attend.
A Funeral Service for Pastor Dick will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 13th at Bethlehem Lutheran, 418 8th Ave NE, Brainerd, MN, with Pastor Mark Skinner officiating. Visitation one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment at MN State Veterans Cemetery, Little Falls, MN.
Thanks be to God for the power of the Resurrection!
Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
October 11, 2016
Zakayo Magomolla, 24, passed away Sept. 30, 2016 in Duluth, Minn.
Zakayo was born in Tanzania on Jan. 6, 1992, and came to the U.S.A. in 2001. He graduated from Duluth East High School in 2011, where he was a member of the A Cappella and Choralaires choirs, and the Greyhound soccer and track and field teams. After high school he attended the University of Wisconsin where he was actively involved in track and field and soccer. He worked at Bethany Children's Shelter, recorded music videos, and provided care for children with disabilities.
Zakayo is survived by his family, Rick and Brenda Caya, siblings Ginamarie, Richelle, Dominique, Jessi and Adam; aunts and uncles Beth and Immanuelli Magomolla and Carolyn and Steve Sweeney; and cousins Malaika, Makeela, Ally and Suzanne.
VISITATION: 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. memorial service Saturday, Oct. 8 in First Lutheran Church, 1100 E. Superior St., Duluth. All are welcome!
Reverend Gregory Sarkis Daher
April 30, 1956- March 27, 2016
Rev. Gregory Sarkis Daher, 59, died March 27, Easter Sunday, at his home in Kerrick, Minn., with his family by his side.
He was born in Minneapolis on April 30, 1956 to James and Gloria Daher. He married Jennifer Nelson in Minneapolis on Dec. 16, 1977.
He attended Luther Seminary and was ordained June 1, 1977 by Bishop April Larson in the La Crosse Area Synod. His first call was at Bethany and East Lemonweir Lutheran Churches. He was called to Bethany Lutheran and Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Duluth in 2004.He remained as a Pastor to the churches in Duluth up until the time of his passing.
Pastor Daher was devoted to his family, friends and serving the Lord through Christ's beloved Church. He was crazy about his children, grandchildren, hunting, fishing and enjoyed repairing things.
He was preceded in death by his Father and grandpa and grandma Daher grandma and grandpa Hall.
He is survived by his wife, Jennifer; son, Elias; daughters Andrea (Brian) Gregory, Catherine (Leland) Driggs, Amy (Douglas) Waller; grandchildren Ave Gregory, Cyrus Gregory, Natalie Gregory, Gabrielle Driggs, Austin Driggs, Aaron Gregory Driggs and Alexander Driggs; mother Gloria Moser; brothers and sisters Michelle Paajanen, Debra Avila, Anthony Daher, Nora Wessling and Daniel Moser and many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and parishioners. "Hi sweety. This is Dad. Just calling to see how things are going. Give me a holler when you get a chance. Love you lots. God Bless. Bye Bye."
VISITATION: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday March 29 in Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, 2701 W. 3rd St., Duluth. Visitation continues from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. Funeral Service Wednesday March 30, in the Church with Bishop Thomas Aitken presiding. Burial will be at Oak Lake Lutheran Cemetery. Memorials preferred. Final arrangements entrusted to Williams-Lobermeier-Boettcher Funeral Home.
Terrie L. Fossum, 71, of Duluth, passed away on Tuesday Oct. 4, 2016 in United Hospital in St. Paul.
She was born in Beloit, Wis., on Sept. 24, 1945 to Robert and Virginia Guetschow.
Terrie married Bill Fossum on Sept. 10, 1966 in Beloit, Wis. She worked as an R.N. in several hospitals and clinics around the country, and as a Parish Nurse in Grace Lutheran Church in Ely. She was a member of Elim Lutheran Church in Duluth, and was a member of the Elim Choir, and Altar Guild. Terrie loved to spend time with her grandchildren, time spent outdoors in nature, and she loved her dogs and cats.
She was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Susan Williams; and brothers, Mike and Barney Guetschow.
She is survived by her husband of 50 years, Pastor Bill Fossum; sons, Jeff (Sue), and Dave (Amy); grandchildren, Gabe, Skyler, Jessica, and Ahnika.
VISITATION: 12 Noon until the 1 p.m. service on Saturday Oct. 8, 2016 in Elim Lutheran Church. 6101 Cody Street, Duluth, MN 55807. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home. 600 E. 2nd Street, Duluth, MN 55805. 218-727-3555.
Reverend Fernard “Fred” M. Norlien, 91, of Duluth, died Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016, surrounded by loving family, at Viewcrest Health Center. He was born on January 26th, 1925 in Kensington, MN to Theodore and Tekla (Anderson) Norlien. In the late 1940’s Fred became a member of the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers International Union of America and he remained a builder throughout his life. He attended Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, and was a graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. He attended Luther Seminary and with Ham Muus and other seminarians founded the ministry of Wilderness Canoe Base at Seagull Lake on the Gunflint Trail. He was ordained in 1959, at Solem Lutheran Church, in Kensington, MN, as an ALC (later ELCA) pastor. He served parishes in Pine River, MN, Dalton, MN, Binford, ND, Bethel Lutheran Church, Scanlon, MN and after retirement an interim appointment in Lutsen/Tofte, MN. He and Edith lived in Silver Bay and spent winters in Phoenix, AZ. for 15 years, before moving to Duluth in 2007. Fred married Edith Berg on July 17, 1948 in Beloit, Wisc. They raised four children together and in July, 2015 celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. Fred enjoyed fishing, canoeing, and camping in the BWCA, journaling, carpentry, and he became a rosemaling artist and teacher. Fred loved talking to people, made friends with everyone he met, and was a great storyteller. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers; Joel, Paul, Milton, Emmett, Raleigh, and James. Fred is survived by his beloved wife, Edith; children, Dan (Carmen) Norlien of Duluth, Becky Norlien of Two Harbors, John (Kathy) Norlien of Pine Springs, MN, and Ken (Rosa) Norlien of Scottsdale, AZ; brother, Walter (LaVonne) Norlien of Maplewood,MN.; special nephew and fishing buddy, Reverend David (Carol) Berg, of Minneapolis, MN; grandchildren, David (Kim), Paul, and their mother, Carol; Matthew, James, Stephen; Ashley and Aaron; Burt, Cassy (Erin), Daniel, and Tasha; great-grandchildren, Marissa and Jocelyn; sister-in-law, Margie Norlien; many nieces and nephews, cousins, and close friends. The family would like to thank the compassionate caregivers at Viewcrest Health Center and St. Luke’s Hospice. A gathering of family and friends will be on Monday, March 14th, 2016, from 10 until the 11AM Memorial Service at Concordia Lutheran Church, where Fred was a member, 2501 Woodland Avenue, Duluth, Reverend Loren Anderson-Bauer officiating. Inurnment will be in Solem Cemetery, Kensington, MN Memorials may be directed to Concordia Lutheran Church, 2501 Woodland Avenue, Duluth, MN 55803 or Wilderness Canoe Base, C/O Lake Wapogasset Ministries, 738 Hickory Point Lane, Amery, WI 54001
December 16, 1932- February 26, 2017
Pastor Bob Twiton, age 84 of Brainerd, MN and formerly of Barneveld, WI, passed away on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at Agrace HospiceCare in Fitchburg. He left us peacefully, surrounded by love and prayers of his family who sang him into his Lord's arms. He was born on December 16, 1932 in Madison, WI to H. Russell and Dora (Bergsland) Twiton. He graduated from Sun Prairie High School, Augsburg College, and Luther Seminary.
He was ordained on June 6, 1958 at Burke Lutheran Church in Madison. On October 29, 1955, he was united in marriage to Margaret Halen at Central Lutheran Church in Madison. Pastor Bob and Margaret's first call took them to Kathryn, North Dakota. Their next call brought them to Barneveld/West Blue Mounds Lutheran Parish, which was home to them and their children for the next 29 years from 1962 - 1991. In 1991, they took a call in Maple Hill/Swan Valley Parish at Leader, Minnesota before retiring to South Long Lake near Brainerd, Minnesota. In his retirement, he served Bethel Lutheran at South Long Lake until 2013.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Margaret;
his children: Beth (Randy Janssen) Twiton of La Crosse, Barb (Paul) Bower of Minneapolis, MN, Pastor John (Diane) Twiton of Mt. Horeb,Joan (Will Henderson) Twiton of Ozark, MO; eight grandchildren: Erik Janssen, Matt (Melanie Lombard) Bower, Halen Bower, Pastor Andy (Kristin Swedlund) Twiton, Hannah Twiton, Thomas Twiton, Joshua Henderson, and Jacob Henderson; two sisters: Dorothy Twiton of Sturgeon Bay and Mary Bosben of Madison; his bonus daughters: Yukiko (Hirotaka) Katsumata of Tokyo and Maria (Jim) Janicki of Hickory, NC; bonus grandchildren: Manabu Katsumata and Emily Janicki; nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; parents-in-law: John & Violet Halen; and a brother-in-law Robert Bosben.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN OF MT. HOREB, 315 E. Main Street, Mt. Horeb, WI. Burial will follow at West Blue Mounds Lutheran Cemetery. Visitation will be from 3:00 - 7:00 pm on Friday, March 3, 2017 at EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF MT. HOREB. A memorial service will be held at a later date at Bethel Lutheran of South Long Lake near Brainerd, MN.
The Ellestad Camacho Funeral Home, 500 N. 8th Street, Mt. Horeb, WI. For those who prefer, memorials are requested to ELCA Disaster Response.
Thanks be to God for the power of the Resurrection!
Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Pastor Estrem will be missed greatly among us. He was actually on the Roster of Eastern North Dakota Synod, but served in many ways, including as a mentor to other pastors at my request while he and Marilyn lived here. His gospel-centered theology and warmth with people were such a gift to us.
Rest Eternal, grant him , O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon him.
John Carlisle Estrem was born the oldest child of Charles and Elizabeth Viste Estrem on Feb. 13, 1937. He was born in Waukon, Iowa delivered by the same doctor who had delivered his father and would later deliver his son, LeAllan. As a child, John loved roaming the wooded areas on the Estrem farm usually accompanied by the family dog, Ivan. His mother often said that she never worried about John as long as Ivan was with him. He began his education at the one room country school Frankville #7 which sat on land donated by the Bakke and Estrem families. As a boy he was an active 4-H member showing cattle and sheep. He loved the farm life and was his father’s close helper. John was also active in Luther League at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church. After graduating from 8th grade, he attended Decorah High School from which he graduated in 1955. Surprisingly, John was a very quiet teenager whose only extra-curricular activity in high school was going out for wrestling his junior and senior years. John married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn Johnston, on August 24, 1958. They were blessed with four children. After graduating from Luther College in 1959, John took education classes at Mankato State and then taught high school English at St. Francis, MN, for four years. John then felt a call to ministry and attended Luther Seminary, St. Paul, being ordained in 1967. John’s first parish was as a co-pastor at St. John’s Lutheran in Jamestown, ND. After four years, he accepted a call to the four churches in the Sheyenne Lutheran Parish. He also served on local, regional, and district boards and committees. Marilyn was diagnosed with MS in 1978, which progressed rapidly, requiring total care by 1985, when John accepted a call to Zoar-St. Ansgar Parish in LaMoure, ND, where he served for 22 years. During this time he developed many creative confirmation programs and took many classes on retreats to Reservations, backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, canoeing in the Quetico and Boundary Waters, and sailing in the Apostle Islands National Park on a 37-foot sailboat he owned in partnership with others. In 2008, John retired from parish ministry and he and Marilyn built an accessible home in Mahtowa, MN adjacent to the Munger Trail. He did supply preaching and helped out at several area churches. He was also active in the Lions clubs of LaMoure and Carlton, and Carlton County Restorative Justice. John found great joy in serving others whether through his pastoral duties or his community involvement, making friends wherever he lived. John enjoyed gardening, baking, jogging, and biking, including riding the Habitat for Humanity 500 mile bike ride several times. John and Marilyn traveled extensively, attended plays and concerts, took classes at the Fond du Lac Tribal College in Cloquet and enjoyed other local activities. They cherished their life together, including the last precious moments of his life here on earth. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marilyn; children LeAllan (Beth) Estrem; Karla (Mitch) Estrem Booth; Jonis (Mary) Estrem; daughter-in-law Karla Estrem; grandchildren, Julie Estrem, Eric and Angela Kraft, and Ashton Booth; sister, Lilah Estrem Aas; sisters-in-law Doris Brooks and Lois Estrem; nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Elizabeth Estrem; parents-in-law Stanley and Gladys Johnston; son Ethan; brother Paul; brothers-in-law James Brooks and Gordon Aas; and nephew Peter Estrem. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Salem’s Mahtowa Hall or Bethesda Lutheran Church Youth and Family Ministry in Carlton. Visitation will be 5:00-7:00 p.m. Thursday, December 8, 2016 at the Mahtowa Community Center. The visitation will resume on Friday, December 9, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. until the 11:00 a.m. memorial service also at the Mahtowa Community Center. A luncheon and time of fellowship will follow. See the family online guest book at www.nelsonfuneralcare.net. John will be interred in the North Washington Prairie cemetery of Decorah, Iowa at a later date. John lived life to the fullest and never stopped learning.
The Rev. Thomas Hallowell, 63
Pastor Tom passed away October 14, 2016.
He was born to Thomas and Alice Hallowell
on April 11, 1953. He was ordained Sept. 5, 1985
His first call was to Keene Lutheran Parish in Charlson, North Dakota where he served First, Clear Creek and Faith Lutheran Churches.
Other churches he served include Trinity and St.John's Lutheran Churches in Birnamwood, Wisconsin, Belfield, Daglum, and Medora in North Dakota, Resurrection Lutheran in Seward, Alaska, Zion in Elgin North Dakota, St. John's in Schuyler, Nebraska, His last call started in 2006 at Andover Lutheran Church in Windom, Kansas. He transfered and retired to the Northeastern Minnesota Synod in April of 2015.
He is survived by his wife Collette and mother Alice.
His memorial service will be Sunday, October 23, 2:00pm, at
Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Hibbing
Thanks be to God for the power of the Resurrection!
Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
It is with sadness that we share the news
of the death of The Reverend Karl Lunder.
Pastor Karl served three congregations in the
NE MN Synod during his 38 years in ministry.
A celebration of life will be held
Thursday, March 17 in Red Wing, MN.
A full obituary can be found by clicking here.
Thanks be to God for the power of the Resurrection!
Reverend Norbert Mokros 1938-2016
The Reverend Norbert W.W. Mokros died January 25, 2016 in St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota at the age of 77.
A resident of Duluth for six decades, Reverend Mokros served as the founding director of the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers a position he held from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. Through hospitality his ministry acknowledged the dignity of others, as he offered assistance, care, and comfort to strangers from around the world whose work and journey brought them to the ports of Duluth and Superior at the head of the Great Lakes.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Reverend Mokros was born in the Silesian village of Mangschutz Germany on December 8, 1938, home to his father, Robert Mokros an orthopedic shoemaker. His mother, Marta Mokros, nee Gutsmann, came from the nearby village of Minken. Both families had lived in this region of Silesia for centuries according to church records. That would all change in the final months of the Second World War and in its consequential aftermath. Initially they fled the Russian armies advancing into Silesia, witness to the firebombing of Dresden along the way. Thereafter, through forced expulsion following the secession of Silesia to Poland they joined the flow of millions who sought resettlement in what would become West Germany. Their journey brought them to a refugee camp near the Kiel Canal in northern Germany for the next two years.
By the late 1940s the family had settled in Velbert, situated in the vicinity of the city of Essen in the Ruhr industrial district. It was in Velbert that his brother Hartmut was born in 1949, and it was in Velbert that Norbert attended and completed high school at the Realschule, as a student in class 6C. He remained in touch with his 6C classmates throughout the remainder of his life and over multiple years participated in their annual reunions in Velbert, the most recent in April 2015.
It was from Velbert that the family moved to Minnesota in 1956. In September of that year, he together with his parents and brother immigrated to the United States under the sponsor of the Nokomis Lutheran Church of Minneapolis. The family settled in Minneapolis with Norbert enrolling in Augsburg College shortly after their arrival. Following his 1961 Augsburg graduation he entered Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary to study for the ministry. Upon completion of his theological studies in 1964 Norbert was ordained a minister of the American Lutheran Church.
1964 proved a momentous year for Reverend Mokros professionally. His first ministerial calling following his ordination brought him to Duluth to serve as assistant pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church. By July of that year his practice and vision as a minister expanded significantly in response to a protracted labor strike by grain millers that left a flotilla of international ships without the cargo of wheat that had brought them more than 2,000 nautical miles inland by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the ports of Duluth and Superior Wisconsin, at the head of Lake Superior. The hundreds of international seamen aboard the ships had no opportunity to get off their vessels, contact their families, or have respite from long isolation on board their ship. With the support and assistance of his congregation and those of a dozen added denominations, Reverend Mokros began visiting ships and organizing a shuttle service from the ships to town. He organized the distribution of books and magazines, visited those who were hospitalized, and secured translators. Fluent in multiple languages, the seafarers had found a friend and advocate in Reverend Mokros. The strike ended but many supported the idea of creating a regular ministry to seafarers.
1964 was also a momentous year personally, culminating with his marriage that November to Karen Mokros, nee Larson, of Duluth. The mother of his daughter and son, Andrea, born 1969 and Peter, born 1977, the couple divorced in 1985. By September 1966 Norbert stepped down from his pastoral post at Concordia Lutheran Church and embarked along with his wife Karen on a two year sabbatical in Europe to explore the direction of his pastoral calling toward the creation of a ministry to seafarers in Duluth. The trip included visits to seafarer centers throughout Europe that established a valuable network of professional ties for the years ahead as for example his service as executive secretary of the International Council of Seamen’s Agencies (ICOSA) during the 1970s. During his sabbatical he also served as a visiting minister for the congregation of a Lutheran church in the village of Dorste in the Osterode region of West Germany during the winter of 1967-68.
Reverend Mokros was aware that smaller, rural congregations in Northern Minnesota were also in need of ministerial visits. It is to the needs of these congregations that he directed his calling following his return to Duluth in June of 1968. He continued his pastoral visits to small, rural congregations throughout the course of his career, and gained their partnership in assisting with the establishment, growth, and continued vitality of the Seafarers Center in Duluth through offerings and fund raising.
In 1969, the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers was incorporated and opened officially in a 64X14-foot mobile trailer on Garfield Avenue near the docks. Ship visiting began in earnest with the combined support of eleven denominations who, in addition to their offerings and volunteer work, collected Betty Crocker coupons that led to the initial purchase of a nine passenger van. Six years later in 1975, the Seafarers Ministry moved to its current home, the rectory building of the former St. Clement’s Catholic Parish at 2024 West Third Street, Duluth. The Ministry continues to this day to provide sailors with shuttle rides to churches, shopping centers, medical clinics and other community services, and other amenities while ships are in port. The former rectory offers sailors a space for relaxation, a place they can play ping pong, pray in the chapel, and have a snack or watch television.
The legacy of Reverend Mokros lives on in the work of the Seafarers Ministry. It surely lives on in the hearts and minds of the thousands of others whose lives he touched through his ministry, his friendship, and his love. He is survived by his daughter Andrea Mokros and her husband Brian Dare of San Ramon California and their children, and grandchild Conor, by his son Peter Mokros and his wife Melissa Erskine of Roseville Minnesota, and their son Chester, born but two weeks before the passing of his grandfather, and by his brother Dr. Hartmut Mokros and his wife Dr. Hester Coan of Milltown New Jersey, and their children Arno and Emily. All agree that he departed this world far too soon. A memorial service is planned for Spring 2016. The date will be announced once set. Correspondence can be sent to email@example.com