Bernard Wilfred “Clem” Thorlaksen passed quietly on Sept. 1, with his children, grandchildren and partner, Karen Good, at his side. He was born to Einer and Johanna Thorlaksen on July 17, 1925, at their farm home south of Powers Lake, N.D. He had four older brothers, William, Roy, Orvin and Arthur. He attended a country school and also went to school in Powers Lake. As a young man, he worked in the café at the hotel, and also stocked shelves for the Skredvig family IGA grocery store. He was active in sports while he was in school, and especially loved baseball and basketball. At some point he came to be known as “Clem,” a nickname that he would fondly carry for the rest of his life.
After graduation from Powers Lake High School, Clem enlisted in the U.S. Navy in January, 1945. He served in the Sea Bees and was stationed on Okinawa until the end of World War II, when he was discharged with honors. He returned to the United States and lived briefly in California, working for the Sears, Roebuck and Company, before returning home to North Dakota. He studied civil engineering at NDSU, which led to a job with the ASCS as a surveyor. He married Lila (Omar) Thorlaksen in 1954. They had three children, Twyla, Brian and Gregory.
With the discovery of oil in North Dakota in 1952, Clem went to work for Amerada Petroleum, where he spent the next 33 years working in Charlson and Tioga, N.D. Amerada eventually became the Hess Corporation we are so familiar with in the Stanley area today. Clem retired from Hess in 1988 as the Production Superintendent in Tioga, but was always pleased to see so many familiar faces are still there today. He was always very proud of the people he worked with. Clem was once referred to as an “Oilfield Icon;” this is a very true statement since there are very few oilmen in the Williston and Tioga area who didn’t know him personally, or know of him in one way or another.
Clem was an active member of the American Legion, serving as Commander of Charles Hartmen Post 134, as well as the VFW and Masonic Lodge. After his retirement, Clem moved to Polson, Mont. He and Karen also traveled south to Mesa, Ariz., in the winter and enjoyed the Stanley and Powers Lake breakfasts as well as the occasional Hess picnics.
Clem was also an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing and golf. He was a dedicated bird hunter who could be found with his dog, Zeke; usually hunting with his friends and family, with Karen always at his side. With Clem it was always “I think I’ll quit hunting next year;” he was not one to sit still for long or stop doing the things he loved.
His door was always open and it was not uncommon to have several people over for a fish fry or barbecue. Clem will be missed by everyone who knew and loved him.
He is survived by his life partner, Karen Good; his three children: Twyla (Jerry) Horvath, Ft Collins, Colo., Brian (Nancy) Thorlaksen, Vernal, Utah, and Gregory Thorlaksen, Colorado Springs, Colo. Step-children: Max (Nancy) Good, Missoula, Mont., Jay (Cindy) Good, Missoula, Rex Good, California: eleven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and his brother, Roy (Adonna) Thorlaksen, Powers Lake.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Einer and Johanna, and his brothers, William, Orvin and Arthur. His memorial service will be held at 11:00 am, Thursday, Sept. 9, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Powers Lake.