Kermit Reuben Blessum, the son of Hans and Bessie (Berge) Blessum was born on November 17, 1910 on the family farm in rural Rugby, North Dakota. He died at the age of 103 years on September 27, 2014 at St. Andrew’s Health Center in Bottineau, North Dakota.
Kermit was raised on the family farm in rural Rugby. At age ten, he moved with his parents and family to the farmstead that would be his life-long home. When he was an infant, his life was saved by a bachelor neighbor, Jake Clawson. Each year since Jake’s death in the 1940’s, Kermit has honored his memory with flowers for Jake’s grave on Memorial Day. The Blessum family members were used to hard work with an eye to progress. Kermit attended country school but his work on the family farm kept him from completing his education past the eighth grade. This included milking cows and delivering the milk in town for 8 cents a quart. Hans and his sons had one of the first milk trucks for deliveries. Although his farming days began with horse drawn threshing machines, he progressed to his having one of the first combines in the county. He was meticulous and took pride in the care of his machinery. He believed in and often quoted the saying, ‘Light is the load when many share the task’. After meeting at a Memorial Hall dance, he dated and was united in marriage to Fern Rohrer on December 17, 1941. The couple had four daughters and a son. In the 1940’s Kermit had prize registered Hereford Bulls. In later years, he also raised hogs and in the 1960’s had a large egg production operation that flourished until a fire razed both thousands of chickens and a large barn that had been built by Kermit and his father. He had a sincere love for nature. Along the highway east of his farm are rows of evergreens that he planted in honor of a beautification project for the town of Rugby. In his yard is a majestic oak tree planted by Fern and Kermit in 1982. Fern died in 1983. In 1985 he married Helen Cornell. Helen died in 1995. His last year of farming was 1997 when he was 87 years old.
Kermit’s love of nature was also evidenced by his choice of hobbies. He loved working with oak and black walnut wood, making many different pieces of furniture, treasure boxes and toys for children. He loved cutting and polishing rocks and has one of the largest displays of North Dakota agates. He made many rings and pendants out of a variety of hand cut, hand polished rocks such as Agate, Opal, Mexican Crazy Lace and Tiger-eye. He was one of the original farmers that gave $100 to start the Farmers Union Elevator. He was on many boards during his farming and ranching years. He was a life long member of First Lutheran Church, was active on the church council in earlier years and was always the potato peeler for the annual lutefisk dinners. Kermit and his brother Lloyd made many beautiful oak cabinets, cupboard signs and other pieces of furniture for the church. The two of them also purchased pew cushions for the church in memory of Fern and Viola Blessum. Kermit’s profound hearing loss kept him at a disadvantage for joining easily in conversations but he loved having his family around and was content to ‘watch’ if her could not hear. His favorite line was “What would I do without my girls!” and it was always said with such love. Although we will miss you, you are now home with mom.
Kermit is survived by his children, Sharon Blessum of Pittsboro, NC, Bette (Roger) Chalmers of Rugby, Wanda (Steve) Ohly of Minot, and Brenda (Doug) DeMontigny of Dunseith; 11 grandchildren; 21 great grandchildren; a sister Inez Thorstenson of Rugby; nieces, nephews; other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his wife, Fern; wife Helen; a son, Roger; sisters, Helen Shively and Gladys Heidlebaugh; brothers, Lloyd, Melvin and Casper; and his parents.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Thursday at First Lutheran Church in Rugby with burial in the Persilla Watts Cemetery. Pastor Sharon Baker, officiating.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Anderson Funeral Home in Rugby and will continue for one hour prior to the time of services on Thursday at the church.
Organist: Pam Anderson Soloist: Kyle DeMontigny
Honorary Bearers: Dr. Brian Selland, devoted physician & Darryl Blessum, devoted nephew
Casket Bearers: Grandsons, Brett DeMontigny, Kyle DeMontigny, Seth DeMontigny, Chad Chalmers, Jamie Sawatzky, Shane Sattler, David Sawatzky
Arrangements with the Anderson Funeral Home of Rugby. Online registry: www.funeralsbyanderson.com
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