Riger M.D. Hatlestad, 88

Riger M.D. Hatlestad, 88

MAY 22, 2018 – Roger Merle Duane Hatlestad, 88, passed away Monday, April 16, 2018.

He was born April 4, 1930, near Garretson, S.D., to Theodore and Mamie Hatlestad. Roger earned his bachelor of arts degree in music and English in 1951 from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served four years as the organist and choral conductor on a Naval vessel during the Korean War.

Following honorable military discharge, Mr. Hatlestad continued his education in music at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, earning a master of arts degree in musicology and piano in 1956. He continued further piano study in New York City with renowned concert pianist Leonard Shure while working as the choir director and organist for Zion Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., until 1961. Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music in New York City became a two-fold blessing — where he earned his master of sacred music degree in 1959 and where he met the love of his life, Juanita Jo Lien. “Nita,” a fellow student at the Divinity School was also a Norwegian from Minnesota growing up just 20 miles from his own farm home. They were married June 14, 1959.

In 1961, he accepted the position of music director of First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, S.D. He then moved the family briefly to Cedar Rapids to begin working on a doctoral degree in organ performance and pedagogy at the University of Iowa.

In 1973, the Hatlestad family moved to Carlinville, where he joined the music faculty of Blackburn College. He received his doctor of musical arts in organ performance the following year.

During his 24-year tenure at Blackburn College, Hatlestad served as faculty member and eventually chairman of the department of music. He was awarded the Sears Award for Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership.

In 1977, he took his family to England, where he spent a year of sabbatical studies in organ at Ely Cathedral, Cambridge, singing in the London Bach Society and playing organ recitals on the continent. In 1986, the couple took a second sabbatical to participate in a teacher exchange in Bergen, Norway, teaching music at the Music College and serving as organist at the Sandviken Lutheran Church. He eventually retired from full-time teaching and touring with the Blackburn Choir and Madrigal Singers in 1995. In addition to his college duties at Blackburn, he served as an active member in several churches serving as organist and choir director in the Carlinville community until moving to Bella Vista, Ark., in 1997.

Semi-retired in Arkansas, he served as adjunct professor and accompanist at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.,  and organist at the First United Methodist Church in Bella Vista, Ark. The couple left Arkansas in 2007 to retire in Albuquerque, N.M. and became active members of Central United Methodist Church.

The couple had four children, Christopher (Linda) of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Lisa Marie (1963-1968, microcephaly), Peter (Sarah) of Walworth, Wis., and Rebecca Riedel (Alec) of Albuquerque, N.M.; and eight grandchildren, Erin, Anders, Kari, Hannah Elliott (Jonathan), Grace Hatlestad and Sadie Tanner (David), Benjamin and Noah.

Preceding him in death were his wife, Juanita; a daughter, Lisa Marie; his brother Philip; and his parents, Theodore and Mamie Hatlestad.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 16, at Central United Methodist Church, 201 University Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, N.M. Internment will take place at Norway Cemetery in Garretson, S.D., next summer.

Memorial contributions may be made to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., for the Roger M.D. Hatlestad, DMA Music Scholarship via email at pierce@cord.edu; mail at Concordia College, Attn. John Pierce: Office of Advancement, 901 S. 8th St., Moorhead, MN 56562; or by phone at (701) 261-8040.