Written by Darla Downs
Gerald Martin Simen-sen, age 88, a longtime Wolf Point carpenter, building contractor and artist, died on Jan. 27, 2014, at Faith Lutheran Home.
Gerald was born on Jan. 3, 1926, near Wolf Point, Mont., to Torbjorn and Andrea (Jakobson) Simensen. He spent his early years on the farm south of the Missouri River on the family homestead.
Gerald accompanied his mother, sister and two brothers on an ocean trip to Norway to visit relatives when he was 11. The family was unable to return from Norway, due to World War II, until nine years later when Gerald was 20 years old.
The family spent their time in Norway on the islands of Foldoy, Finnoy and in Stavanger. Gerald went to school until his early teens and then helped support the family with jobs involving chopping wood, growing greenhouse tomatoes, gathering seashells for fertilizer and fishing for sardines.
The Germans occupied Norway during this time period and they sent Gerald to a concentration camp near Oslo where he was eventually freed. While in Norway, Gerald attended Sand Carpenter’s School and learned furniture- making and woodcarving.
After returning from Norway, Gerald returned to the farm and then worked as a carpenter for several years with building contractors on projects in Wolf Point, Circle, Glasgow and Opheim.
During this time, Gerald met a young Wolf Point nurse named Ruth Marie Isachsen. His relationship with Ruth blossomed and he began building their house in Wolf Point. They were married on June 14, 1953.
Over the years, the family and Simensen Construction grew. Gerald built many homes, commercial buildings and some churches in Wolf Point and the surrounding area, and his sons David and Philip eventually joined him in the business. Gerald developed the Isachsen Addition in Wolf Point and built many of the homes on Crescent Drive and East Johnson Street.
Gerald and Ruth were longtime members of First Lutheran Church in Wolf Point and active for many years in church activities.
The family enjoyed hunting, boating and fishing on Fort Peck and trips to Kalispell to visit family and recreate. Gerald also enjoyed gardening and raised wonderful tomatoes.
Later in life, Gerald finally had time to pursue painting. His expert craftsmanship, eye for detail and creativity allowed him to complete many fine oil paintings of Norway fjords, Montana landscapes and the Missouri River Breaks. He thoroughly enjoyed displaying his artwork at area art shows and visiting with fellow artists and art enthusiasts.
Gerald was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Ruth; and his sister, Alphild Osterhus.
He is survived by his brothers, Kastor (Lona) Simensen and Donald Simensen; and children, David (Carol) Simensen, Diane (Richard) Long, Philip (Betty) Simensen, June (Thomas) Welch and Joanna (Don) Stanek. His grandchildren are Tanner and Hunter Simensen, Ryan and Melanie Long, Logan and Karina Simensen, Matthew, Michael (Octavia) and MacKenzie Welch, Jillian and Cole Stanek; and great-granddaughter, Penelope Welch.
Gerald’s family greatly appreciates the care, compassion and attention he was given during his last month of life at the Faith Lutheran Home.
Visitation will be on Feb. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Clayton Stevenson Memorial Chapel in Wolf Point. Funeral services will be held at First Lutheran Church in Wolf Point on Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. followed by interment at Greenwood Cemetery. Clayton Stevenson Memorial Chapel of Wolf Point has been entrusted with the arrangements and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.claytonstevensonchapel.com.