To view a streaming of the celebration access https://www.mtmsales.net/thomas
To view the flowers from Clifford’s service, click here: Clifford Gjellstad Flowers
Clifford Gordon Gjellstad, 76, rural Velva, ND, and Gilbert, AZ, died Monday, May 8, 2023, in a Gilbert hospital.
Cliff was born in a blizzard on January 16, 1947, in Minot, ND, to Norman and Hazel Gjellstad. He was the youngest of five siblings and grew up as “Little Jake” to his brother “Big Jake” Harvey and three proud sisters Marie, Markell, and Crystal. The family moved up to North Prairie after Cliff’s birth, having initially lived at the Gjellstad homestead along the banks of the Souris River near Verendrye.
Cliff began school at the one-room North Prairie #4 less than one mile north of the farm. In later years, Cliff drove to school in the “little car” built by Norman and neighbors, which kickstarted his love for machines and vehicles of all kinds. He opted not to follow his siblings to Dakota Lutheran Academy in Minot but chose Velva Public School to finish his education because he wanted to play sports for the Velva Aggies. Cliff graduated from Velva High School in 1965.
Stories of Cliff driving to and from Wahpeton are legendary; Cliff graduated from North Dakota State School of Science with degrees in Diesel Mechanics and Welding. Following graduation in 1967, Cliff spent a memorable winter in Portland, Oregon, where he lived with his sisters while working as a car mechanic.
Farming and the prairies drew Cliff back from the coast; he returned to help Norman farm, having followed in his father’s footsteps since he could walk. In 1969, Cliff started renting the Rudolf Ness farm, and in 1971 moved in there with Elizabeth (Hegland) following their marriage that spring. They sold the cattle when they became parents and thereafter specialized in small grains on the family farm.
Cliff could fix and build most anything, an invaluable skill for a farmer needing to repair things and create smart solutions for his operation. Named an NDSU Harvest Bowl Honoree for McHenry County, Cliff took pride in being a steward of the land in his lifelong vocation as a farmer. In his spare time, he restored vintage Case tractors and collected old cars. He delighted in driving an old tractor or their 1929 Model A in the annual Velva 4th of July parade. Cliff loved to sing. He enjoyed performing with family, singing at weddings and funerals, in church cantatas and choirs, and recently with the Trilogy Choir in Gilbert.
The new millennium began a new chapter when Cliff and Jacqueline (Larson) married in North Prairie Lutheran Church on 01.01.01 and blended their families. They continued farming until Cliff’s retirement in 2008. This allowed them to spend more time enjoying hobbies of camping and fishing at Lake Sakakawea, sailing in the summer and hunting in the fall. Travel became another favorite pastime; they loved to travel by cruise ship to warmer destinations. In 2009, they tested life as snowbirds; in 2011, they bought a home in Arizona where they spent subsequent winters and built new friendships in their neighborhood. Cliff golfed weekly with the Trilogy Bums.
Cliff invested in his community by helping neighbors, volunteering for numerous organizations, and becoming elected to several boards. He held leadership positions in and served on the North Prairie Church & Cemetery Association, North Prairie Township (appointed “Lifetime Weed Commissioner”), McHenry County Weed Control, McHenry County Farmers Union, Democratic-NPL District 7 (now 6), Midwest Farm Managers, and for local cooperatives such as Verendrye Electric, Central Power, and Basin Electric, where he proudly served as Board President from 2010-2012.
Clifford is survived by his wife, Jacqueline; children, Melissa Gjellstad, Grand Forks, ND; Clint & Jamie Gjellstad, Velva, ND; Zachary Larson, Gilbert, AZ; 3 grandchildren, Odin, Isabelle, and Aurora Gjellstad; his two sisters, Marie (Bob) Eisele, Mesa, AZ; and Markell (Roger) Vogt, Clarks Grove, MN. He is predeceased by his parents, Norman and Hazel (Oien Munson); his brother, Harvey (Vera) Gjellstad; and his sister, Crystal (Daniel) Conrad.
All are welcome to a Celebration of Cliff’s Life on May 22, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. at North Prairie Church Cemetery, (Take Highway 41 North of Velva, 2 miles E 51st Street,1/2 Mile N 14th Ave) Simcoe, ND. Although the original church building stands no more on the prairie, the cemetery lives on. Memorials given to North Prairie Lutheran Cemetery Association are preferred. To view a streaming of the celebration access https://www.mtmsales.net/thomas Visitation for family and friends will be held on May 21, 2023, from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the Thomas Family Funeral Home of Minot.