Cover photo for Dr. Knute Thorsgard's Obituary
Dr. Knute Thorsgard Profile Photo

Dr. Knute Thorsgard

August 20, 1954 — May 22, 2023

Detroit Lakes

Dr. Knute Thorsgard

Beloved husband, father, and grandfather Dr. Knute E. Thorsgard of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, tragically passed away suddenly on May 22, 2023. A visitation service will be held on Tuesday, May 30, 2023 from five to seven (5-7) p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at one (1) p.m., also at Trinity Lutheran. His family invites you to share in the celebration of his life.

Knute was born on August 20, 1954 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Dr. Ernest Thorsgard and Ina Thorsgard (nee Sundquist). He spent his childhood in Thief River Falls, MN where he graduated from high school in 1972. He received part of his high school education in Queensland, Australia at a boarding school while his father was serving as a physician at a mission hospital in Papua, New Guinea.  

After high school he attended St. Olaf College, where he majored in Norwegian. He transferred to Concordia College to be with the love of his life, Nancy Saetre. He graduated from Concordia in 1976 and married Nancy in 1977.  He attended medical school at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and participated in the Rural Physician Associate Program.  He did his family practice residency in Grand Forks, ND and followed in his Father’s footsteps to be a rural family medicine physician. He started his work as a family doctor in Detroit Lakes, MN in 1985 and served the community for 34 years. He also served as the Becker County Coroner from 1994 until his death.

Knute was passionate about his career as a physician, but also found plenty of time for family, friends, faith, and hobbies. He and Nancy made their home on Fox Lake and they loved spending time with his 4 children and 10 grandkids. They were looking forward to meeting his 11th grandchild later this year. His wife, kids, and grandkids were the joy of his life. Every year Knute and Nancy would build something for their grandkids; a giant sandbox, a zipline, and waterslides. Their home became a cozy place full of love and adventure.

Knute was always an adventurous person. He was particularly passionate about horses, playing his ukulele in his jam band, and cross-country skiing. At age 11 he used money he had saved to buy a yearling stallion named Ali. Starting at age 15 Knute would take a solo 100-mile ride with Ali each summer to go work at Uncle’s cattle ranch in North Dakota. His career as a cowboy ended after college, but he always kept horses, and loved to take his grandkids riding. In the winters he kept enough cross-country ski gear handy to outfit his entire extended family. He and his good friend, Glenn Gifford completed the full 53K (33 mile) Birkebeiner classic ski race fourteen times, most recently in 2023.

During his downtime Knute loved reading and writing about physics. He learned about Polynesian wave maps during his time in Australia and New Guinea. It was these maps which sparked his lifelong interest in physics. His friends and family were often treated to conversations and reading his essays about the speed of light, bosons, dark matter, and similar subjects. It was not always easy to follow the conversation, but it was one of his lovable quirks. 

The beauty of the plains, the horizon, the winter sky, and the mechanics of the natural world inspired Knute to be a curious, loving, and spiritual person. He was a devoted member of Trinity Lutheran Church, where he will be remembered in services on May 30th and 31st. 

Knute is survived by his wife, Nancy, children, Marit Thorsgard (James Eischens), Kai (Harmony) Thorsgard, Greta (Mox) Gunderson, and Annelise (Casey) Nelson, his grandchildren, Leif, Annika, Henrik, Knute, Synneva, Beau, Genevieve, Anja, Klara, and Kaja, and his sister, Kyja. Knute is preceded in death by his parents, brother Eric, and nephew Torin Thorsgard.

His family loved him dearly, and we appreciate your support during this difficult time.

In lieu of flowers please direct memorials and donations to Trinity Lutheran Church, DL Dollar for Scholars, and MN Flyers Fly Time (program for special needs children). Links below.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Knute Thorsgard, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Memorial Service

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)


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A one hour visitation will be held prior to the service.

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