Phillip “Phil” Bjerkager, 88, of Fargo, ND, formerly of Wahpeton, ND, passed away on Friday, September 18, 2020, at Bethany Retirement Living in Fargo. A public visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, from 12 PM to 2 PM followed by a private family service at Vertin-Munson Funeral Home in Wahpeton. A livestream of the service may be viewed on our website. Pastor Jake Dyrhaug will officiate the service. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery in Wahpeton. Arrangements have been entrusted to Vertin-Munson Funeral Home.
Phillip Omar Bjerkager was born on March 29, 1932, in Colfax, ND, to Henry and Clara (Hagen) Bjerkager. He grew up near Colfax and attended school in Galchut, ND. After schooling, he worked on the farm until he enlisted in the US Army in 1952. During his time in the service, SGT Bjerkager earned the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and 2 Bronze Stars.
In the early 1950s, Phil met the love of his life, Myrtle DeFries and later were united in marriage on January 17, 1955, in Doran, MN. Together they had three daughters, Kathy, DeAnn, and Lisa. They raised their family in Wahpeton. After a long and difficult battle with cancer, Myrtle passed away in 1985.
Phil remained in Wahpeton, and for 50 years worked at Wahpeton Glass and Paint. He also was a certified locksmith and carpenter. He was skilled in many ways and his perfectionism made his work ethic incomparable. He even won “Yard of the Week” three times! His hobbies included: playing pinochle, collecting tractors, (with Allis Chalmers being his favorite), and square dancing. In 2007, he moved to Fargo and joined the Hickson Senior Citizens and AM Vets, where he was a lifetime member. He also was a lifetime member at Sons of Norway in Fargo, and American Legion.
Phil would always say, “If you aren’t 15 minutes early, you’re late” and “if you’re going to do it, do it right the first time.” Did we mention he was a perfectionist? When it came to his grandchildren however, he always took his time with them. When Phil would talk about his children and grandchildren, he would get very emotional.
He was a man of faith and was a member at Bethel Lutheran Church in Wahpeton. He would always volunteer for the lutefisk supper, even though he strongly disliked lutefisk. There is no one that could replace this talented, hardworking, loving, and faithful man. He will truly be missed by his family, friends, and the community.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Myrtle Bjerkager; parents, Henry and Clara Bjerkager; parents-in-law, Lubka and Mildred DeFries; and brothers-in-law, Kenneth Lee and Richard DeFries.
Phillip was survived by his daughters, Kathy (Duane) Litton, and their children, Chris (Britney) Litton and Corey (Jen) Litton all of Fargo; DeAnn (Greg) Melkert, Erhard, MN, and her children; Drew (Chelsey) Sondeland, St. Louis Park, MN, and Jenna (Chuck) Braman, Buckley, WA; and Lisa (Myron) Braun, Wahpeton, and their children; Karlie Jo (Tyler) Qual, Lisbon, ND, and Jordyn (Tyler) Phelps, Dickinson, ND; 6, grandchildren; 14, great-grandchildren; a great-great grandchild; sister, Sylpha Lee, Abercrombie, ND; long-time friend, Pat Heibel and family; and many other loving family members and friends.