Sigurd Thoralf Haugan, 97, longtime resident of St. Anthony Park and faithful employee of St. Anthony Park State Bank (predecessor of Sunrise Banks) in his latter years, died peacefully on July 29, 2016, at his current home in New Brighton, surrounded by loved ones.
Sigurd was born Jan. 4, 1919, to missionary parents in China. In March 1927, the family was forced by the Chinese government to evacuate. The family traveled to the U.S. via A-line steamer and settled in St. Anthony Park. Sigurd had been a faithful member of St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church ever since. He grew up cutting lawns in summer, shoveling snow in winter and selling magazines door-to-door.
In the summer of 1930, he traveled to Norway. Once back home, he started school at Gutterson. He caddied at the University of Minnesota golf course, making 50 cents an hour, 75 cents if he carried a double.
In 1935 he started 10th grade at Mechanics Arts High School. His 11th-grade English teacher helped him get a job at the Hill Reference Library for 35 cents an hour.
The next two summers he worked on a farm near Halstead. In 1937, he worked banquets at the St. Paul Hotel for 19 cents an hour and leftovers. He moved on to the Lowry Hotel as a bellhop.
The same day he reported for work at the Fairmarket Railway Ballast Conditioning Corp. in Middletown, Ohio, in 1940, he met Emma May Sanderson. He returned to the U of M in the fall of 1941 and corresponded with Emma May almost daily. He sent her his fraternity sweetheart pin and claimed that if she kept it, they were engaged.
On Dec. 8, 1941, he received his draft notice. He bought an engagement ring and went to Ohio for Christmas to give Emma May the ring, with her parents’ approval.
He came back to St. Paul and reported to the armory for induction. After basic training, he shipped out to the Aleutian Islands. In April 1943, he came back to the U.S. and he and Emma May married on April 23.
The next couple of years were spent at several U.S. bases completing a variety of assignments for the U.S. Army. In September 1946, Sig and Emma May purchased their first home, in San Francisco, under the G.I. Bill. Their second child was born there that December. In spring 1947, they came back to Minnesota.
That fall, Sig registered again at the U of M and finally received his BBA in December 1948. A fraternity brother had just started Twin City Radio Dispatch and offered Sig a job as bookkeeper and dispatcher.
By early 1949, Sig started Mobile Engineering Inc. He put an antenna on top of the Fairmount Water Tower for the police department and Martin County Sheriff. Soon he erected small towers—up to 100 feet—in many places. His best customers were NSP, United Power Co-op and the State of Minnesota.
He left Mobile Radio Engineering and started Northern States Tower Service. This job encompassed tower sales and services (tower erection and painting), antenna and coaxial cable installation, and everything except transmitter hook-up.
Before long, the company was putting up 200-, 300-, and 400-foot towers. The area had expanded to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. Sig decided to “retire.” He sold the business to his youngest son.
In November 1995, Sig answered an ad in the Park Bugle for seniors and started work at Park Bank (now Sunrise Banks). He worked there until 2011, when he decided to retire “early”!
He was preceded in death by his wife, and his daughters, MaryJo Skoriuchow and Margot Summitt; great-granddaughter, Madison; and son-in-law, Victor Skoriuchow.
He is survived by his sons, Sigurd Jr. (Cheryl) and Kevin (PeggySue); 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and siblings, Astrid Anderson, Gus (Anne) and Roald (Jean).
His funeral service was held Aug. 8 at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, with interment at Sunset Cemetery.