Noel Jon Kjesbo of rural Wendell, Minnesota, peacefully passed away on January 4th, 2020 at the age of 73 years.
Noel was born in Fargo, ND on December 26th, 1946. He was the firstborn son to Norman and Hazel (Mattson) Kjesbo. Hazel went into labor on Christmas Eve during church, so Noel it was. Norman and Hazel raised Noel and his brothers Lee and Dean on a farm near Comstock, MN until 1958 when the family moved to the Wendell, MN area where they founded their family farm.
After graduating from Elbow Lake/Wendell High School in 1965, Noel attended North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton where he received his Associates degree in Electronics and Communications in 1967. During this time, Noel began serving his country in the Army National Guard for 6 years as a Communications Specialist.
Noel started his professional career with 3M in St. Paul where his relationship and communication skills soon led to a new job as a 3M salesman based in Syracuse, NY. There he met Mary Ellen Cimilluca and they eloped in Charleston, SC on July 27th, 1972. After the birth of their daughter Amy in 1974, they returned to Minnesota where he would begin farming with his father Norman and brother Dean. A few years later their son Brian was born and he and Mary Ellen took great joy in their family of four.
Noel had a lifelong love of the land and passion for farming. Being a caretaker of the farm his father started while nurturing it to pass on to his son Brian was one of the things in which he took the most pride. Over the years, he gave his time to many organizations making contributions in support of his community, his strong faith and his love of America. He was particularly passionate about public policy and value-added agriculture. Noel served on the board of directors of the MN Wheat Growers Association and several other farmer-owned cooperatives.
Noel truly loved small town Minnesota life, enjoying the day-to-day work of the farm, his local community, and his family. He and Mary Ellen attended countless school events. They gave their kids a childhood they look back on with joy and gratitude, the drive to be independent and live a meaningful life and very solid winter driving skills.
Noel had many dear friends and loved robust conversations, teasing and joking around with them over coffee, through a pick-up window or around a campfire. He was always curious about the world around him and enjoyed reading, current events, and music – especially singing the bass line of church hymns in the choir. His Sunday newspaper and nap sessions were world class.
In his later years, Noel celebrated the marriages of both of his children and welcomed four grandchildren who loved their Papa and experiencing the farm he guided with such care. Even as he struggled through several `health challenges for many years in his later life, his stubbornness, sense of humor and strong will to live never left him.
We all hope to leave our little corner of the world better than we found it. Noel loved waking-up every day to try to do just that in the beautiful, wide open spaces of North Ottawa Township.
He is survived by his wife Mary Ellen Kjesbo, his children Amy Kjesbo Lincoln, her husband Jason and their children Mara and Evan; his son Brian Kjesbo, his wife Nicole and their children Bryce and Carter; his brothers Lee (Carol) Kjesbo and Dean (Kari) Kjesbo and several nieces and nephews.
A visitation and sharing of stories will be held on Wednesday, January 8th at 3 to 5pm with a 5pm Prayer Service and story sharing time to following. On January 9th there will be a visitation from 11am to 1pm with a Celebration of Life Service to follow at 1pm. All events will be held at United Lutheran Church, Elbow Lake, MN.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the WCA Ag Boosters (301 Co Rd 2, Barrett, MN 56311), The Grant County Veterans Memorial Support Organization (PO Box 418, Elbow Lake, MN 56531), or by simply planting a tree this spring.