Richard Owen Balke


Richard Balke, age 88, of Northfield, passed away Friday, January 15, 2021, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Richard was born the son of Ole and Elsie (Engwall) Balke on June 20, 1932, in Willmar, Minnesota. He attended country school through the eighth grade and then high school in Willmar where Richard excelled in sports, lettering in baseball and earning all-conference and all state honorable mention in football. After graduating in 1950, Richard went on to study at Saint Cloud State University. In 1953, he was united in marriage to LaDonna Mae Hills. A year later, Richard was drafted into the armed forces and served in the United States Army, spending one year in Japan.

After his honorable discharge, Richard and LaDonna made their home in Washington where he graduated from Clark College. Following graduation, they moved to Faribault and began working for Nutting Truck and Caster. The couple then moved to Dundas where he began a long career as a design engineer for Sheldahl. They moved from Dundas to rural Northfield in 1975. Richard retired from Sheldahl in 1997 after working there for 37 years. Richard was a member of the Sons of Norway organization and attended meetings held at St. Olaf College.

In retirement, Richard and LaDonna enjoyed traveling and visited every state in the country and 16 Presidential Libraries. LaDonna passed away December 6, 2010.

Richard continued to stay active by going swimming and monitoring the pool at FiftyNorth Senior Center, gardening in his backyard, and making Krumkake that he shared with family and friends. Being an athlete in his early years, it was only natural for Richard to follow sports his entire life, including attending sporting events at St. Olaf College, the Dundas Dukes, Minnesota Vikings, and the Twins. Whether he was at a sporting event or hanging out at the senior center, he loved meeting new people and putting a smile on everyone’s face.

He is survived by his daughter, Patricia Hochschild of Northfield; two sons Doug (Debra) Balke of Eagan, Dean Balke of Morristown; three grandchildren, Derek Balke, Dawn Balke, Alex Hochschild; and a sister Helen Groen of Willmar. He was preceded in death by his wife LaDonna; his sister Kathryn Swenson; and his parents.

Private family services will be at Bierman Funeral Home. The service will be video-taped and posted to the website following the service. Public Visitation will be at Bierman Funeral Home on Thursday, January 21, 2021, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Burial will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. Arrangements by Bierman Funeral Home and Crematory.

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