Reverend Omar Gjerness, 97, of Fergus Falls went to be with the Lord on Friday, July 19, 2019 with family around him. He was born in Mandal, Norway on March 5, 1922, the son of Ove and Amalie Gjerness. He grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Omar received his education at University of Wisconsin, Augsburg College, Wagner College, Pasadena College and Lutheran Brethren Seminary. He was united in marriage to Joan Elsie Larsen in Brooklyn, New York on December 17, 1949.
He worked at various jobs while putting himself through school. He was a carpenter in New York and Montana, fished in Alaska, and farmed in Wisconsin. He dabbled in oil painting, played many musical instruments, led choirs and musical groups and was an avid fisherman and hunter.
Reverend Gjerness served churches in Frontier, Saskatchewan; Malta, Montana; Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York; Billings, Montana; and Pasadena California. He served on various boards for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren (LBS). He was a member of the Boards of Missions, Home Missions, Publications, Education, Synodical Executive Board, Synodical Council and the Executive Committee of the Synodical Council. He has been Secretary of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren, President of the Atlantic District, President of the Central District, Vice President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren, Vice President of Lutheran Brethren Schools, and President of Lutheran Brethren Schools. He was acting President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren for a brief period. He was listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Religion in America.
He served as interim pastor at Briarcliff Manor, New York and Billings, Montana. He taught Systematic Theology at LBS for twenty-nine years and the final seven years of this tenure were as President of LBS.
Reverend Gjerness wrote a column called “Answers for Today” for Faith and Fellowship magazine and authored seven books. Many of his former students fondly recall his “Digression Day” on Fridays where they could ask questions on any subject they wanted.
Reverend Gjerness was widely travelled, having been in all fifty states and sixteen countries. He taught short courses in Japan and Cameroon, Africa. He was a familiar figure in local churches, active in civic affairs. He was a member of the education committee of the Chamber of Commerce, member of the Board of the Community Chest Drive and a member of the Noon Kiwanis Club.
He was proceeded in death by his beloved wife Joan. He is survived by four children: David (Linda) Gjerness of Goodyear, AZ, Melinda (Daniel) Gardner of Eau Claire, WI, (daughters Katelyn Cain (Ryan), Kelsey Gardner) Craig (Christine) Gjerness of Richfield, MN (son Colton), and Peter (Kim) Gjerness of Golden Valley, MN (daughters Bo and Quinn) and one great-grandson Braeden Omar Cain. He also was much loved by 6 nephews and 8 nieces.
Memorial gifts can be made to Lutheran Brethren Schools, or the Apple Pregnancy Care Center in Eau Claire, WI.
Visitation: Friday, July 26 from 3 to 7 P.M. with a prayer service at 5:00 P.M. at the Glende-Nilson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls and will resume for one hour prior to the service at the church
Funeral Service: Saturday, July 27 at 10:00 A.M. at Bethel Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls
Burial: Oak Grove Cemetery in Fergus Falls
Funeral Home: Glende-Nilson Funeral Home of Fergus Falls
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