John "Jack" B. Nordgaard

April 9, 1934 ~ June 7, 2022 (age 88)



John Benson Nordgaard (Jack), age 88 of Red Wing, MN passed away on June 7, 2022.  He was born on April 9, 1934, to Karl and Anna Nordgaard in Mankato, MN.  He grew up in Decorah, IA, where he graduated from high school in 1952.  He attended Luther College in Decorah, until he was drafted into the Army in 1954.  Jack served for two years in Germany.  After his military service, Jack returned to Luther College where he graduated in 1958.  It was there that he met Diane Iverson.  They were married on July 18, 1959.  Jack and Diane moved to St. Paul, MN, where he attended Luther Seminary.  He finished seminary in 1962.  Jack was ordained in July, 1964.  Jack’s first call was to Ord, Nebraska, where he was the pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church.  His second call brought him to Chicago in 1967, where he was the pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church.  While in Chicago, Jack enrolled in the inner-city studies master’s program at Northwestern University.  In 1971, Jack moved to Palatine where he worked as the assistant pastor at Christ Lutheran Church.  In 1972 he started working at Lutheran Social Services Illinois (LSSI).  While at LSSI, Jack directed a ministry in Uptown Chicago for homeless and addicted people.  He then was the director of Prison and Family Ministry, where he advocated and created programs to assist families visit prisoners and to help prisoners’ transition back into society.  Jack worked extensively with Habitat for Humanity.  He organized the first chapter inside a prison, giving inmates the opportunity to learn skills they could utilize when seeking a productive job in the future, and their work ultimately benefits people in need of housing.  In 1993, Jack received the Wallenberg Award for Lifetime Humanitarian Services.  In a statement by Jan E. Muller, founding president of the Wallenberg Committee of Chicago, “He is considered by many to be the premier grassroots advocate for the poor and disenfranchised.  He’s truly a man who has devoted his life to helping others achieve their rightful dignity.”  In 1998, he retired, and Jack and Diane moved to Red Wing, MN.  At that time, he received the Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from Luther College.  During his retirement Jack continued his efforts helping to create programs to assist the homeless.  He was also instrumental in founding a free medical clinic in Red Wing for those in need. 

 Jack is preceded in death by his wife, Diane (Iverson) Nordgaard; son Peter; his parents Karl and Ann; and sister Karlyn.  He is survived by son Michael (Jennifer) Nordgaard; grandsons Erik and Luke Nordgaard; son Timothy (Barbara Schlender) Nordgaard; and many in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends who will miss him deeply.

Services will be held at United Lutheran Church in Red Wing, MN on Saturday, June 25, at 2:00 p.m.  Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.  In lieu of flowers please donate to your local food shelf in Jack’s honor.  Arrangements are by the Mahn Family Funeral Home, Bodelson-Mahn Chapel.

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June 25, 2022

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
United Lutheran Church in Red Wing

Funeral Service
June 25, 2022

2:00 PM
United Lutheran Church in Red Wing (Palatine, MN)

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