The Rev. Loren J. Espeland, 85, of St. Anthony Park, died Sept. 2.
He was raised on a farm in South Dakota and attended high school in Pierpont. He began his career as a teacher in western South Dakota at the age of 17 after attending Northern State Teacher’s College in Aberdeen for six weeks. While he was a teacher, he also lived in the one-room schoolhouse.
Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953, he served in the U.S. and in Germany. Following his military service, he enrolled at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D.
There he met his future wife, Shirley. He majored in art at Augustana and graduated in 1957. That same year he enrolled at Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul.
Loren married Shirley J. Wassink on June 17, 1960, in Valders, Wis., where Loren was serving his seminary internship. He graduated from Luther in 1961. His first parish was in Bryant, S.D. Loren and Shirley moved to Redwood Falls, Minn., in 1966, where he served as pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran for many years. Before his retirement, he also served rural parishes in Revere and Johnsonville, Minn.
His love of art, music and nature enriched the expression of Loren’s spiritual life and impacted those he encountered through his preaching, pastoral care and numerous projects, organizations and activities. He was a member of the board for the Redwood Falls Concert Series and a singer in the Prairie Arts Chorale. He taught piano lessons and worked with gifted school children in the areas of art and music. He also was a discussion leader for Junior Great Books.
Since 2001 he shared his gifts at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church by baking bread for the monthly homeless breakfast and providing calligraphy for a great number of certificates and inscriptions. He was the accompanist for the St. Anthony Park Lutheran Choir School for many years and was known to many of the children (and their parents) simply as Grandpa Loren.
Loren loved food and laughter, telling stories and watching British comedies. He will be deeply missed by his family and dear friends.
He is survived by his wife; daughter, Mari (Ken Dahberg) of St. Anthony Park; son, Chaplain Major Leif (Ann); five grandsons, Joseph, Karsten, Paul, Lars and Mats; brother, the Rev. Orlo Espeland; and sister, Sharon Klovstad.
A memorial service was held Sept. 10 at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, with interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.