2016 Living The Mission Honoree:
Leland & Elsie Gilbertson
Lee, the youngest of six Gilbertson children, married Elsie on April 5, 1964. Lee had grown up living and farming in the Charleston, ND region, while Elsie was born in Beulah, ND. After the two married, they spent their time farming until retirement in 1992. Lee and Elsie continued to live on the farm until Lee passed in 2008. The two enjoyed spending their time together traveling and discovering different areas of the world. They visited places such as Israel, China, and several European and Scandinavian countries. Lee and Elsie always found their travels to be entertaining and life enriching. The couple was also very active at Keene First Lutheran Church where they both served in many capacities. Lee also served on the county ASC committee. Elsie believes that God showers His people with many blessings and she continues to use God’s blessings to help others.
2015 Living the Mission Honoree:
Milan Alby, Faculty
Milan Alby was a beloved Science teacher at Oak Grove for 36 years. He inspired many students with his belief that to study science was to study God’s wondrous world in its infinite order and beauty.
Mr. Alby worked very hard to make his classes challenging and thought provoking. He treated each student with respect and dignity and enjoyed being challenged by them. When the school bell rang at the end of the day, you could often find students in his classroom challenging him and other students to intense games of chess.
Mr. Alby’s memory continues to live on as family and friends set up a scholarship in his name to be awarded to a graduating senior who plans to pursue a career in the science or engineering field. In 2013, Oak Grove dedicated the newly remodeled science classrooms as the Milan Alby Science Center, with the hope of inspiring awe and wonder in generations to come.
John and Marie Leseth, Class of 1964
Born and raised in Fargo, Marie graduated from Oak Grove in 1964. She went on to obtain a degree in nursing from Gustavus Adophus College in 1968. John was born and raised on a farm West of Rustad, MN and graduated from Moorhead High School in 1964. From there he attended Moorhead State College where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1970. The two married in November of 1969 and found their way back to the farm. Between seeding and harvesting, John and Marie were very active in their community. John served as trustee and treasurer of their church, Hoff Lutheran. He also held several offices in Northwest Farm Managers, Agassiz Club, Red River Valley Farmers Insurance pool, and MN Wheat Council. He was treasurer of the Northern MN Synod. Marie worked at St. Ansgar Hospital for one year before taking on the full time role of being a farm wife and mother to two children. When she wasn’t driving truck, unloading grain or paying farm bills, Marie was also very active in their church and was the church organist for 17 years. John and Marie have been faithful farmers, church goers and givers. They decided to retire from farming in 2004, but continue to give. They feel as though God has blessed them abundantly, and they would like to return these blessings to him through their giving to Oak Grove.
Nick Hall, Class of 2001
Nick Hall, a 2001 Oak Grove graduate and member of the Championship Boys Basketball team in 2000, is the founder and primary evangelist for PULSE, a Twin Cities, Minnesota-based ministry at the center of some of the largest student-led prayer and outreach efforts in the world. At the age of 32, Nick’s passion is to “awaken culture to the reality of Jesus.” Traveling as a youth communicator for more than a decade, Nick has shared the Gospel at hundreds of events to millions of students while receiving hands-on training from some of the most influential Christian leaders of our day. As a voice to the next generation, his passions include student-led prayer movements, leadership training, evangelism, and discipleship. Nick has been tagged as an emerging international voice in the cause of evangelism. He serves on the student advisory team for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Associate (BGEA), and is a partner evangelist with the Luis Palau Association. In the spring of 2011, he was welcomed to the National Facilitation Committee for the Mission America Coalition (MAC). Nick is married to his best friend, Tiffany and they live in Minneapolis with their son, Truett, who was born in July 2012.
Peder Eide, Class of 1986
Peder Eide is a singer/songwriter, speaker, worship leader, and an advocate for orphans and children in poverty. He has written and recorded 17 projects including 3 Christmas CDs. His music, writings and global ministry have been featured by USA Today, Focus on the Family, 700 Club, Lutheran Magazine, Christianity Today, Thrivent, CCM Magazine, and Compassion Int. In 2000 Peder was selected as one of the “Top Ten Young Minnesotans”. Peder is a 1986 graduate of Oak Grove. “At a time in my life when I was in need of a sanctuary, opportunity, affirmation, and to be poured into, God provided Oak Grove. “There is so much of what I do today that is a direct result of the seeds planted by so many amazing people in the Oak Grove family. I am forever grateful.”
Peder and his wife Sherri live in Farmington, MN and are blessed with 5 children.
Dale and Lu Vitalis
Dale and Lu Vitalis began their ministry at Oak Grove in November, 1975, after serving Lutheran congregations in Montana and Minnesota for 17 years. Living on campus, Dale’s role as Campus Pastor, and Lu’s role as wife and partner, was a 24/7 ministry. Whether it was Friday morning prayer breakfast, a snow day for the dorm students, or a student who just needed a family, the Vitalis home was always open. Dale taught Christian Studies, spoke in chapel, drove the fan bus, led prayer meetings, was the announcer at basketball and wrestling contests, and was a surrogate dad to many. During her very busy days at OG Lu also received her BSN at MSUM and later her MSN from UND. Lu was on the nursing faculty at Concordia College retiring in 2000 but continuing on as Adjunct faculty. Lu’s three nursing passions are childbirth education, nursing education, and parish nursing.
After leaving Oak Grove in 1978, Dale served at Pontoppidan Lutheran Church for 8 years before returning to Billings, MT, for 4 years. Returning to the Fargo area in 1990, Dale served at Olivet Lutheran Church for 6 years and most recently as the Visitation Pastor at First Lutheran Church from 1996 to his soon retirement in December. Dale has served on the Board of Regents at Oak Grove from 2009 to the present. The Vitalis family has left a legacy in our community that cannot be measured but runs deep in the hearts of many. Dale and Lu are a great team and remain great supporters of Oak Grove, still attending as many events as their schedule allows. They have four children of whom they are extremely proud , Kathy ’78, Susan ’79, Beth ’83, and Steve who graduated from Billings West High School ‘90.
2012 Living the Mission Honorees
Helen (Arnseth) Torvik is a 1940 graduate of Oak Grove and has spent a lifetime serving the Lord around the globe. Sensing a call to China, Helen prepared by studying the language only to be called to Madagascar instead. Helen spent 22 years serving on that island before joining the Daystar Ministry where she served 16 years. Most recently, Helen served from 1985-2005 as staff and associate staff for Youth with a Mission, serving short term in the Philippines, Korea and finally China. Helen has a deep passion for sharing with young people the message that God has a plan for their life. Her book, “Hitchhiking by Brush Taxi,” recounts many of the adventures and miracles she has witnessed through her lifetime of Christian commitment and loving service.
The legacy of Fred and Virginia Scheel - Fred has been described as a modern day Renaissance man. Passions extended from industry-leading retail store management to world-class photography, teaching alongside his friend Ansel Adams, to a love of nature that took him and his family on trips around the world. A quiet and generous man who gave from the heart and was devoted to his wife and family. A man of deep faith who supported Christian education in the Fargo-Moorhead area as well as foreign lands, because he knew it made a difference in the lives of young people.
Fred and Virginia traveled to Madagascar to help found a church and mission school. Virginia raised three children and was a social worker, instrumental in the formative years of the Village Family Service Agency in Fargo. She enjoyed traveling the world with Fred, taking particular pleasure in Ornithology, or the study of birds. Virginia traveled from the tip of the Aleutian Islands to the jungles of Central America and Africa to record the different birds in their native habitat. Virginia has a deep faith and volunteers with various mission agencies to this day.