Richard L. Hjort, age 87, of Chisago City passed away Thursday, October 22, 2020 at Parmly on the Lake, in Chisago City.
Richard was born March 28, 1933 to Ruth and Victor Hjort in Columbus Township, MN. Later the family moved to their homestead in Stacy, MN. As an only child, little “Swede” enjoyed playing with his many cousins and often recounted tales of their adventures together. During his childhood he spent his school days at the one room schoolhouse, Violet Dale, several miles north of his home. He would walk to school or catch a ride with the neighboring family who had a horse and wagon. When he grew older he began working for a nearby farmer as a farm hand which he enjoyed very much, especially the delicious lunches the farmer’s mother would pack for them in tall metal milk cans.
In 1951 Richard enlisted in the US Navy and began training in the construction naval battalion known as the “SeaBees”. His tour of duty brought him to Bermuda, Cuba and North Africa – exciting places for a boy from Minnesota. In 1954 Richard was home on furlough and met his future wife Marlys on a blind date. After two dates Richard was sent on to his next post in North Africa and the two began writing letters to each other, which they still have.
The letter writing worked! Richard and Marlys were married in 1957 and began their life together building their home in Chisago City. Soon their son was born and several years later a daughter.
Richard worked as a carpenter building homes in the north metro area and later was a building superintendent on many housing projects done by Northway Construction. His nickname of Swede was how he was known and the homeowners appreciated his down to earth personality. Throughout his life Richard loved spending time with his family camping, traveling, and canoeing. He especially enjoyed bird watching and gardening, and had a keen interest in the weather. His fondness for birds led to a longtime involvement with the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota doing workshops for the public and educational programs for schools. Richard and Marlys were recognized and received awards for their work in the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota and the North America Bluebird Society.
For many years Richard was a volunteer Cooperative Weather Observer for the National Weather Service and also for the Minnesota State Climatology Office collecting and submitting data on weather occurrences in the Chisago Lakes area. His passion and devotion to weather data led to Richard and Marlys receiving the John Campanius Holm Award and later the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest honor for cooperative observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations.
Richard loved connecting with people and sharing his interest of the natural world. A special joy for him was writing the Weather and Field Notes column in the Chisago County Press from its introduction until a few years ago. He appreciated the calls he’d receive from readers and their observations of the goings on in nature.
Richard was first and foremost a devoted and loving husband and father, always a kind word or gesture followed by a smile.
He is survived by his wife Marlys; son Darwin (Kelly); daughter Danitta; grandsons Curtis (Heidi); and Eric (Danielle); great granddaughters Ella, Ericka and Norah.
With special thanks, appreciation and love to the caregivers at Parmly on the Lake and Ecumen Hospice. You are all exceptional people. Memorial to be announced at a later date.