By Teri Finneman
Editors Note: This is the eighth story in an eight-part series featuring North Dakotans age 80 or older still making a difference in their communities.
NORTHWOOD, N.D. – Enoch Thorsgard said it’s common for people in the latter part of their lives to want to do something significant. So at 93, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
The Northwood man takes great pride in his latest career as author of the book “Enoch’s Saga: Horsepower to Satellite in a Single Lifetime.”
He keeps busy traveling to Pride of Dakota events, book signings and parades to promote the story he finished two years ago about his life.
Thorsgard is particularly touched by the pile of letters he’s received from fans.
“I never, ever thought I could write a book that people would enjoy and appreciate like that,” he said.
His book talks about his Norwegian heritage, his childhood and all of his ventures since then.
Thorsgard is a former state legislator who served from 1969 to 1980. He and his sons are partners in a large family business that includes 6,000 head of cattle and a farming operation.
His daily routine still involves checking the markets, calling cattle buyers and heading out to the feedlot to check on his cattle.
From there, the self-described “social activist” turns his attention to his other causes, like serving on the board of directors of the North Dakota Family Alliance.
Executive Director Tom Freier said Thorsgard is a one-of-a-kind, staunch supporter of family.
“We know that, on a personal level, he is just a great family man,” Freier said. “He is just an amazing person, at his age, to be so on top of everything that he’s involved in.”
Thorsgard has also been a “great supporter” of the state Heritage Center in Bismarck and has worked hard getting funding for it, said Virginia Nelsen, executive director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation.
“We just really appreciate his energy and consistency with this organization,” she said. “He could be sitting at home doing anything he wants to do, but he tends to still reach out and do important things for other people, and I just find that just wonderful.”
Thorsgard has also been supportive of North Dakota Oilseed Mills, a successor company to Northwood Mills.
North Dakota Oilseed Mills co-owner Clarence Leschied said Thorsgard kept busy advocating for the new company and making business contacts.
“He leaves people half his age in the dust for his energy and zeal,” Leschied said. “I think he still wakes up every morning and makes a list of what he needs to do.”
Leschied said he’s only lived in Northwood for five years, but knew right away Thorsgard was “one of the stalwarts of the community.”
“Enoch is a great advocate for Northwood,” he said. “I think if every rural North Dakota community had an Enoch in their midst, we’d have a much different looking state.”
Thorsgard said he’s always had a strong urge to be involved in community betterment.
“Your age doesn’t change that,” he said. “It’s still in your blood.”