Elwood O. Bakke, age 98, of Hendricks, MN passed away at his home in Hendricks, MN on Friday, July 23, 2021. A private family graveside service will be held for Elwood in the Marble Lutheran Cemetery. A public visitation will be held Sunday, July 25th from 4 – 6 pm in the Houseman Funeral Home, Birk Chapel in Hendricks, MN.
Elwood Orval Bakke was born on July 17, 1923 on a farm in Deuel County, South Dakota near Astoria. He attended country school near the family’s farm and was a member of Leganger Lutheran Church, where he was baptized by Pastor Ulvedn. During the Dustbowl years of the 1930’s when it was very difficult to make a living on the farm, Elwood’s father, Elmer, purchased land and moved his family to the small town of Puposky in northern Minnesota. They made a living by logging and also growing potatoes for market. Elwood often reminisced about how he and his brother Clayton loaded the 100 pound burlap bags of potatoes onto train boxcars for shipping to market. Elwood attended Bemidji High School where Shop was his favorite class. The family returned to Deuel County about six years later, when the drought had subsided and farming improved. In 1942, Elwood studied at the North American Aviation School in Minneapolis. Upon completing his training, he traveled with buddies to California where he worked building airplanes for the WWII effort. Elwood joined the U.S. Army in 1944 and was stationed in the Philippines during WWII. He was a member of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), and worked undercover to collect and compile information on Japanese military and Communist guerilla groups in the Philippines. Elwood was awarded a very special CIC service badge in 2015 for his service in WWII. He wore the badge pinned to his shirt every day. Elwood also led a group of soldiers through the jungles scouting for Japanese snipers; he saved at least 12 of his buddies by spotting hidden land mines and disarming them before they exploded. Elwood met his future wife, Delphine Jensen, in a Hendricks café when he was on furlough. Delphine corresponded with Elwood throughout the War. He returned to South Dakota in 1946 at the end of the war, and he and Delphine were married on October 23, 1948. In later years of their marriage, Delphine told Elwood that the first time she met him, she said to herself “He’s the one I’m going to have.” Elwood loved to tell this story. Elwood and Delphine lived and farmed in Marble Township for 62 years on the farm where Delphine grew up. They had three daughters, Judy, Joan, and Brenda who helped Delphine and Elwood doing farm chores, vegetable gardening, and field work. Elwood and his family raised livestock including beef and dairy cattle, hogs, and chickens. He farmed a half section of land where he grew alfalfa, corn, soybeans, and small grains. He liked to say that he and his family knew what hard work was and they were proud to do it. Elwood learned the blacksmith trade from his father (Pa), who at one point, encouraged Elwood to purchase his own anvil. The first anvil purchase led to another and another. Elwood was hooked on anvils of all sizes and shapes, manufacturers! He began searching out anvils at farm auctions, and eventually had a collection of 26 anvils, including a very large, heavy cone anvil used for shaping iron. A number of articles have been published in local newspapers about Elwood’s life as a farmer, a blacksmith, and a collector of anvils. Elwood gave his Pa’s anvil to brother Clayton, and together Elwood and Clayton shared many old memories of blacksmithing. In addition to full time farming, Elwood was the Marble Township Assessor for 14 years and later worked for the USDA Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) for 25 years in Ivanhoe, MN measuring fields and grain bins as well as dealing with farmers. Elwood’s diplomatic manner allowed him to easily resolve issues to the farmer’s satisfaction.
Elwood served as the President of the Marble Lutheran Church for over 50 years. When the church closed, he arranged for it to be moved 100 miles to the Shores of Saint Andrews Lake Bible Camp near New London, MN to be used for youth Bible campers, weddings and other activities. This “100 Mile March” was covered by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis TV news channels, and even national cable news networks. In recent years, Elwood has enjoyed nightly Skols with brother Clayton, counting sips of wine together as they reminisce about their lives – living in northern MN during the depression, mischief including motorcycle escapades with Wendell Lunde, and leading a skunk around by the tail (and getting sprayed), and fond memories of traveling together with their wives to northern Minnesota. A particular memory was the time that Elwood and Clayton were helping John Ruttom shock grain on a day when temperatures soared to 110 degrees. At the end of the day, John gave them a bottle of grape juice to quench their thirst. Little did they know that it was actually a bottle of wine. After drinking it, they realized it was not grape juice, but wine, because their eyes began to water. So, they ran to the lake and jumped in to cool down! Elwood enjoyed daily phone conversations with all three of his daughters. He particularly liked to hear about the marmots in Washington state from Brenda, the sightings of sea otters and great blue herons in their backyard pond in Charleston, SC from Judy, and the hummingbirds and chipmunks at the cabin from Joan. Elwood had a number of hobbies, including woodworking, blacksmithing, spending time at the cabin, watching Twins games, deer hunting in Wyoming, collecting rocks and arrowheads, finger pulling, and of course his anvil collection! He shared his woodworking projects with many over the years, and his projects included Scandinavian sleds and boxes, benches, pencil holders, shelves and even a hair dryer holder! He also had a love for all animals, including the many dogs, cats, rabbits and gophers on the farm. In 2009, Elwood and Delphine moved into the Lincoln Lane Villa in Hendricks. Delphine passed away in November 2014, and Elwood continued to live in the Villa until his passing on July 23, 2021, just six days after his 98th birthday on July 17. Elwood celebrated his 98th birthday with the Villa residents, staff, and family and treated everyone to his favorite blueberry donuts from the Hendricks Bakery. The following evening, he had a birthday dinner party with family and friends and blew out the candles on his birthday cake!
Elwood is survived by his daughters Judy Thies (Richard) of Charleston, SC, Joan Beseman (Tom), St. Paul, MN, and Brenda Bakke (Dennis Strasser), Seattle, WA; granddaughter Crystal Hall (Matt), and great granddaughters Tyyna and Clara, Roseville, MN; grandson, Michael Strasser and great grandchildren, Liam and Lily, Boise, ID; and granddaughter, Christina Strasser, Santa Cruz, CA; his brother Clayton Bakke, Spearfish, SD and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. We all love Pop!