Rev. Leo Bjorlie

Rev. Leo Bjorlie

  • Funeral Date: 3/29/14
  • Funeral Time: 11:00 AM
  • Date of Birth: 8/23/22
  • Date of Death: 3/17/14
  • Funeral Location: St. John's Lutheran Church - Northfield

Pastor Leo O. Bjorlie, age 91, child of God, died peacefully surrounded by family on Monday, March 17, in the Care Center of the Northfield Retirement Community. A gentle man with an impish soul, Bjorlie was widely known for his love of music, poetry, literature (especially Shakespeare), and family. He was always quick with a story and a warm handshake or embrace for everyone he met. He used his story-telling to make those around him feel welcome and loved.
Bjorlie was born August 23, 1922, in Emmons, Minn. He grew up in Albert Lea, Minn., graduating from Albert Lea High School in 1940. He attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., as an English major, graduating in 1944, where he met the woman who was to become his wife of nearly 70 years, Lois Brenna. They served together in parishes in Slater, Iowa; New Hampton, Iowa; Crane Creek, Iowa; Northwood, Iowa; Minot, N. Dak.; Kathryn, N. Dak.; St. Paul, Minn.; Hope, Minn.; and Albert Lea, Minn. While a student at St. Olaf, he served as a radio personality for WCAL, the first radio station in the nation and a founding member of National Public Radio. Bjorlie was also ready to serve his country during World War II, but was honorably discharged for medical reasons.
A good and faithful servant, music was integral to his life and ministry. He built a lifetime of making a joyful noise unto the Lord. He was an accomplished tuba, accordion and piano player. While serving at Memorial Lutheran Church in St. Paul, he was a mainstay as one of the three Wise Men in the annual city-wide Christmas pageant. He was an example of servant-leadership, unafraid to serve his congregations whether from the boiler room or the kitchen sink or the pulpit. He had a poem for every occasion whether silly, joyful or sad.
Leo and Lois Bjorlie raised six wonderful children and they were always enthusiastic supporters of their children, 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He is survived by his children: Ellen (James) Ellickson of Eden Valley, Minn.; Leo (Carol) Bjorlie of Asheville, N. Car.; John (Cynthia) Bjorlie of Gloucester, Mass.; Lois Bjorlie (Corey Mohan) of St. Paul, Minn.; Ruthie (David) Neuger of Northfield, Minn; sister-in-law Esther Burmeister of Harmony, Minn., and numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife Lois Brenna Bjorlie; parents Lars and Karen Marie Bjorlie; and son Mark Bjorlie.
L. O. Bjorlie will forever be remembered for his wisdom, kind words, deep and abiding faith, and acceptance of all people. Known to his family as Grandpa Pancakes, he was a spilliwinker full of the dickens who experienced life with a twinkle in his eyes. His Christian faith – reflecting gratitude, forgiveness and mercy – was a model for all who knew him.
His funeral will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, 2014, with visitation from 4 – 7 p.m. on Friday, March 28, 2014, at Benson & Langehough Funeral Home in Northfield. Memorials may be directed toward St. John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minn., in lieu of flowers.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home.


  1. Barb gill

    What a wonderful man. We will all miss his stories!

  2. Gerhard Knutson

    Leo and Lois were great and close friends. They were mentors to me and a great story teller and poet reciter. He was a joy to know. May they rest in God’s care in eternity!

  3. I met Leo and Lois through my mother, Valeria Daehlin, who also lives in the wonderful community that is NRC. Leo is such a bright light! I cherish the memory of his poetry readings, contributions to the liturgy at chapel and his always kind and heartfelt greetings to me. I’m so sad to hear of his passing. Much love to the family.
    -Lisa Daehlin

  4. Marilyn Finneseth

    Leo will be missed in many ways, but none more than his participation in the Men’s Chorus and Chapel Choir at Northfield Retirement Community. As director,I felt blessed to have as part of our groups.

  5. Evelyn Thomas

    My mother moved to Parkview East in April, 2010, and Lois and Leo adopted her as their breakfast buddy, which made her feel so at home, and she missed them when they moved to Parkview West. I watched your wonderful parents make friends with everyone they met. The NRC Chapel Choir had already been missing his wonderful bass voice, especially Arndt, since Lois left him behind for a short while. I’m so happy for him that they’re together again where they belong, in Heaven with our Savior. Sincere sympathy in your loss, Evelyn Thomas and Coral Peterson

  6. Roger Ellickson

    Leo was not only my brother’s father-in-law, he was also a good friend. In the nearly 50 years that I knew him, he always had a good (usually corny) joke and a ready ear whenever we saw him. Thanks Leo, it was a privilege to know you.

  7. Julie Ellickson

    I will always remember the twinkle in his eye, his love of poetry and music. Grandpa Bjorlie has a special place in my heart. The Ellickson boys and I will miss him dearly. Our love to the entire Bjorlie family at this difficult time. We are there in spirit. — Julie Dart- Ellickson, Ethan, Nathaniel, and Zachary Ellickson.

  8. Sandra Grenell (Widing)

    Pastor Bjorlie was an anchor for me during my high school years in St. Paul, MN. As a member of Memorial Lutheran Church, his guidance helped me in my faith journey. His patience and kindness was shared frequently. I was honored to have him as my pastor during my wedding. We continued written correspondence for many years. I have continued to think about him often and will continue to miss him.

    I was also blessed with the welcoming spirit and warmth of his wonderful wife Lois. I am sure they are smiling down upon their children as they are now together in heaven.

  9. Keith Erickson

    As a fellow tuba player, I enjoyed sitting next to Leo in the Owatonna Community Band in the 80s. Leo sold me his Soysa phone, which I enjoy playing.

  10. Phil Lewison

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. We treasure our friendship with your parents. We made many good memories over the years. May the memory if their love continue to comfort and strengthen you.

    Together in Christ, Phil and Barb Lewison

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