Obituary: Walter J. Kirkegaard

August 31, 1929 - October 23, 2023
Walter J. Kirkegaard
August 31, 1929 - October 23, 2023
Posted at 12:28 PM, Oct 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-25 15:34:36-04

Rev. Walter J. Kirkegaard of Great Falls, MT passed away on October 23, 2023, at the age of 94. Walt was born on August 31, 1929, in Littleton, CO to Anton and Helen Kirkegaard. He graduated high school in Aurora, CO in 1947. He obtained his Bachelor of Science through Dana College located in Blair, NE. In 1957, he then graduated from Trinity Seminary in Dubuque, IA and was ordained into the Lutheran Ministry in Racine, WI.

The first parish Pastor Walt served was in Minden, NE. Here, he helped to facilitate the construction of a new church building. He was then called to start a new congregation in McCook, NE. Grace Lutheran Church in Watertown, SD called Pastor Walt to fill the position of Senior Pastor, and he answered. In 1978, he accepted a call to the Senior Pastor from Our Saviors Luther in Great Falls, MT. He served for 4 years.

Choosing to take a break from parish ministry, Pastor Walt went to work at Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home in Great Falls, MT as their manager. A year passed, and he then decided to further his education and attend Worsham School of Mortuary Science in Chicago IL, graduating as a Licensed Mortician, Funeral Director, embalmer, and grief counselor. He was on staff at Chapel of Chimes for nine years and then decided to return to parish in ministry in Havre, MT.

Serving as Senior Pastor at First Lutheran Church in Havre for nine years, he facilitated the development of a preschool/daycare program and started a limited television broadcast. During this time, he also served on the Board of Trustees for Northern Montana Hospital for a period of six years.

With plans to retire from the ministry, he moved back to Great Falls in 2000. However, after just three short months, he was asked to serve as Associate Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church. He accepted the call. Finally, Bethany Lutheran Church in Dutton, MT called upon him in 2002. He served in Dutton until he retired in 2015 at the age of 86.

He is survived by his wife, Sandy; sister, Ruth Svinth of Petaluma, CA; sons, Lee (Ann) of Graham, WA, Rod, and Tim both of Great Falls; stepsons, Doug Patzer of Helena, MT and Jim Patzer of Denver, CO; daughters, Tammy (Tom) LaKemper of The Villages, FL and Rosie Hicks of Stanford, MT; stepdaughters, Tammy (Gary) Bistodeau of Great Falls and Jill (Bruce) Cooper of Hemet, CA; 17 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

To read the complete obituary and share condolences, click here to visit the Schnider Funeral Home website.