Jens Michael Bolstad Sr., 78, Great Falls, a retired firefighter, died of natural causes Tuesday, June 26, at his home.
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At his request, a graveside service is 1 p.m. Monday at Fort Benton Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
God needed a piano player, so on June 26th he took one home. Jens Bolstad was born on April 23, 1934, to Jens and Alpha (Wraa) Bolstad in Winger, Minn. He was raised in Crookston, Minn., where he started working as a farm laborer at a young age and attended the Northwest School of Agriculture High School in Crookston. At the age of 16, he drove his 1937 Ford out to Great Falls to visit relatives and to see the wide open spaces. Within a few days of his arrival, he was hired by Geneva Lippert as a ranch and farmhand. Jens worked for the Lipperts for the next two years, only returning to Minnesota to finish high school. After graduation in 1952, Jens came "home" to Montana to stay.
In 1953, Jens went to work for the Great Northern Railroad in Fort Benton. It was there in 1954 that he would meet his bride, Patricia Nagengast, whom he would love and be married to for 54 years. Jens and Patricia made their home in Great Falls, East Helena where they owned the Korner Bar, and then back to Great Falls where they lived for the last 39 years. They raised four children, Alisa (Dexter) Hale, Jens Bolstad Jr., Ann (Jim) Perkins and Steven (Laura) Bolstad.
In 1958, Jens found his calling in the fire service. He served for 27 years as a Great Falls firefighter, a deputy state fire marshal, a volunteer fireman and, for most of his career, a fire instructor for the State of Montana Fire Services training.
Jens was a member of the Eagles and a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus. Jens loved reading, especially history, playing his piano and taking long drives to see the country, the crops and the livestock. He also loved people and visiting - he never failed to find a smiling face in any town in Montana. Above all, Jens loved his wife, his family, his grandchildren Fletcher and Marias Hale, Jens Bolstad III, his sister Josephine and his many brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters, Kathleen, Gloria, and Judy, and his brother, Ole Morris.
Dad, Pop, Poppa, Grandpa, Uncle Jim, you will be missed by us always. You were a real-life hero. We will remember you whenever we hear a honky-tonk piano or see a smiling face. But most of all we will always remember "You are My Sunshine."
Donations and remembrances may be made to the Holy Spirit Catholic Parish Memorial Fund, 201 44th St. S., Great Falls, MT 59405.
Condolences may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on June 29, 2012