Devoted to his communityPublished 10:46am Tuesday, August 28, 2012
With a heart full of love for his family and an unwavering pride for the community in which he lived, Merald Enstad will always be remembered as a man who cared deeply for everyone he knew.
“He was such a congenial person,” said his wife Jeanette. “He liked everyone, and there wasn’t any favoritism. I think he was everybody’s friend.”
Fergus Falls lost the friend to all and devoted community member Sunday, Aug. 26, less than a month after he turned 95 years old.
“He was a serious business man when he was working, but he always had time for his friends and family,” said Jeanette. “He always liked to have a cup of coffee and a good visit.”
Over the years, Merald became very close to his grandchildren.
“His grandchildren and great grandchildren were the highlight of his life,” Jeanette said. “They used to come bounding in and hop on his lap like children do. He just loved it.”
Merald’s granddaughter Jen Enstad-Petersen said she remembers how devoted he was as a grandfather and great grandfather.
“At family dinners, he would eat after everyone else, because he would rock the baby while everyone else ate,” Petersen said.
Merald once asked Petersen if her son had any old clothes he could use for working outside, and she found him a pair of old Abercrombie and Fitch jeans.
“He said, ‘These are the snazziest work jeans I’ve ever seen,’ and he wore them as work jeans all the time,” Petersen said.
In addition to being a devoted father, grandfather and great grandfather, Merald devoted a significant amount of time to the Kiwanis Club. In his 64 years as a member, he became president of the local club, governor of the three-state area, a member of the international board and eventually, international president. During his time as president, he traveled to 306 countries where he met presidents, kings and ambassadors from all over the world.
Fellow Kiwanis member and friend of Merald, Ralph Johnson, was going to quit the club about 10 years ago.
“Merald took me out for coffee and convinced me to stay,” Johnson said. “I’m glad he did.”
When it came to fundraising events, Merald was always way out in front. He sold more than 300 tickets to the pancake feed every year, said Johnson.
“He was just an exemplary man,” he said. “He was a great fellow and everybody liked him.”
Merald was also very active in the First Lutheran Church. He was the chairman of the finance committee for two building additions, a council member, foundation board member and he sang in the choir.
“He never did anything halfheartedly,” Petersen said. “He was always very gung ho.”
Merald was always interested in current affairs and cared greatly about his community, Jeanette said.
“He was always proud of his town and its accomplishments,” she said. “Anything that our little town did meant a lot to him.”
Merald might be remembered most as a friend to all. This became clear when his friends stayed with him until the very end, said Jeanette.
“These last few weeks when he wasn’t doing too well, his friends all circled around him,” she said. “That meant a lot to him.”