Deland A. Porath of Perham, MN died Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at his home on Paul Lake. Visitation will be 4:00-8:00 p.m. with a rosary at 7:15 and parish prayers at 7:30 on Sunday, December 22 at Schoeneberger Funeral & Cremation Service in Perham. Visitation will resume from 9:30-10:30 a.m. followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dent, MN. Interment will be at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 26 at Windom Memorial Gardens, Windom, MN.
Deland Porath, age 77, was preceded in death by his parents Kenneth and Norine Porath; brothers Lowell and Ronald; sisters Kathleen and Mary Lou. He is survived by his wife Diana; daughters Illene (Robb) Reed and Lois (Driss Hakimi) Porath; granddaughters Emily Reed, Olivia Reed and Jessica Ojala; brothers Donald (Diane) and Leland (Karen); sister Virginia (Sis/Ginny); and many cousins, nephews and nieces.
Deland was born in Storm Lake, IA at the Porath Hospital on July 25, 1942 approximately five minutes ahead of his twin brother Leland. They moved to Mountain Lake, MN when he was 6 months old. Deland grew up on the family farm and was active in local 4H and FFA clubs. He played high school football and received several athletic awards. After high school graduation, he volunteered draft and served for two years. His most memorable assignment was Wackernheim, Germany. While in Germany, he pursued his interest in family genealogy and was able to contact several distant relatives. Following his two years in the military service, he attended Mankato State College for his first two years of college before transferring to the University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus Agricultural School where he received his degree in Agricultural Education in 1969. He received his bachelor’s degree in the first week of June, but he was only a true bachelor until June 14 when he married his wife Diana. They just celebrated 50 years together this past summer. He taught two years at Sioux Valley School in Southern Minnesota. Then in 1971, he began his teaching career in New York Mills, MN. One of his greatest achievements was his forestry team qualifying for the National FFA competition on several occasions. He also received New York Mills “Teacher of the Year”. His greatest achievement was when he started the East Otter Tail County Fair Children’s Barnyard which was named after him.
He was forced into early retirement in 1996 because of his bout with Multiple Sclerosis, but he still remained active in order to limit the progression of the disease. He did this by gardening, hunting and fishing. Included in his fishing exploits was acting as a fishing guide for several priests over the years on several fishing expeditions. He was also well known at the Perham Hospital for getting fishing lures stuck in his hand. Because of his interest in different cultures, he and his family hosted eight foreign exchange students over the years. Some very close ties were developed with their “American Dad”. He was able to search the genealogy of each branch of the family; the furthest results were traced back to the 1400s.
He was deeply loved and respected by his family members, friends and students alike and was greatly appreciated by everyone who knew him. We will all miss him greatly.
Schoeneberger Funeral & Cremation Service, Perham, MN (218) 346-5175 www.schoenebergerfh.com
Eulogy for Deland Arno Porath
Hello. I want to thank everyone who has come here today to both celebrate my father’s life and to honor him in death. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Lois Porath, I am Deland’s second and youngest daughter. I have given several eulogies throughout my life, each one of them for someone very special and close to my heart. So, when my father died unexpectedly this past Tuesday, December 17th, there was no question that I would deliver a eulogy for him. However, as my family and I have organized my father’s funeral these past few days, I have realized that this eulogy is like none other that I have ever given. One might just assume that this is because Deland is my father, and of course, this is partially correct; however, the real reason that this eulogy is so different from any that I have ever given or even ever heard before is because after organizing his funeral and speaking to literally dozens of people who knew him these past few days, I realized that I have truly never known a person who died who has impacted as many lives as my father has. Simply put, my father was truly an astonishingly great man.
Born on July 25, 1942, my father came into this world with his twin brother Leland, the youngest two children in a farm family of ten. His parents, Kenneth and Norine Porath, were not wealthy, they did not even have electricity or running water in the house until my father was five years old. Nevertheless, I have yet to meet another family who has such a deep understanding and appreciation for the importance of close-knit family ties. And I am not only speaking of one’s immediate, nuclear family, but rather, the entire extended family! My father grew up knowing and spending substantial amounts of time with his entire extended family on both of his parents’ sides. It is this same love and esteem for family that molded his character, shaped his choices, and influenced the path he chose in life.
His passion for family genealogy began at the very young age of seven. Already as a child, my father began intently listening to his elders when they spoke about the family, past or present, and took notes on what he heard. As an adult, he researched each branch of every member of his immediate family, with his furthest findings dating back to the 1400s. Although his work on family genealogy is truly awe-inspiring, its impressiveness is dwarfed when compared to his efforts to maintain close family ties with the entire extended family.
My father taught me as a very young child to honor the elders in our family. Not only can they impart considerable knowledge and wisdom to the youth, but the courtesy and deference shown to them create the cornerstone upon which extended families can create and maintain solid relationships over generations. My father excelled at this. During his 77 years on this Earth, there was rarely a wedding, funeral, family reunion, or other family gathering that he missed, and this commitment to family cemented his reputation and standing among aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I always recognized the rarity of my father’s choices with regards to family, as well as their impact upon others, but the extent to which he touched the lives of so many in the family became exceedingly clear as I called people to tell them of my father’s passing. The intense sadness and enormous loss which shattered numerous hearts shook me to the core.
However, my father did not just apply such life principles to our family, but rather, they guided him in his choice of career and how he approached his work. My father loved life on the farm, nevertheless, he chose to pursue a degree in Agricultural Education. Just as he was passionate about genealogy and family bonds, so was he equally a fervent educator. He spent 25 years of his 27-year teaching career in New York Mills. As a teacher of agriculture, my father taught numerous classes – from forestry and wildlife, to small engines, welding, and crop judging. He was impassioned about sharing his knowledge with High School students and he was an ardent proponent of FFA (Future Farmers of America). Although I went to school in Perham, I was nevertheless able to see my father numerous times in his role as a teacher and an FFA Advisor. He truly enjoyed spending time with his students and put forth great effort to help them develop confidence and become successful in their academic pursuits. Both the East Otter Tail County Fair and the State Fair were highlights of each scholastic year. Not only did my father enjoy ‘Fair Time’, but the little town of New York Mills made a name for itself year after year at both levels of competition. My father was extremely proud of the agriculture program he built in New York Mills and he felt immense gratification that he was able to share his knowledge and positively impact the lives of so many young minds. I can personally attest to the fact that students have not easily forgotten my father, neither as a teacher, nor as a friend. Several times over the years, students have asked to come and visit my father, just to catch up and reminisce. Even as late as two months ago, two of my father’s former students called up and asked if they could come over that same morning in order to spend some time with their former teacher. I was downstairs in our house and couldn’t help but to smile and chuckle as I heard the women laugh ecstatically while reminiscing about their High School days with my father as their teacher. I also heard my father roar with laughter a few times as he relished every moment the women were there, reminding him of how many young lives he touched.
Beyond his childhood family and his career, my father sought to start his own family and pursue friendships with the same respect, consideration, and attentiveness that he was taught as a child. On June 14, 1969, he took the first step in this direction by marrying my mother, a devoted wife and beautiful soul, Diana Porath. A year later, my sister, Illene, was born and then two and a half years later I came along. My Dad proved himself to be a strong, dependable, loving husband and father. Sometimes it is difficult to explain why a certain action or gesture affects us so deeply, but two of my fondest, heartfelt memories of my father are these. First, while growing up, my bedroom was located beneath the stairs which entered the house. My father was the type of man who would bring both his and my mother’s cars down the hill in the winter and make sure all the snow was cleaned off and would warm them up before we needed to leave. Well, I remember lying in bed, listening to the sound of my father walking up and down the stairs on squishy, icy snow. Scraping off the deck and getting the cars ready to leave. I felt safe. I felt cared for. I felt loved. My second heartfelt memory dates back only to June 14, 2019, the day of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Riley, my assistance dog had fallen ill quite suddenly and died that morning. In the midst of my grief, I asked my father if he could make Riley a casket, and he told me that it was already done. After I said goodbye to him, I wrapped him in one of his blankets and gently positioned him in the casket. My father then began nailing the top of the casket down. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and my heart was breaking. All of a sudden, a wave of emotion and gratitude for everything my father has done for me came across my heart and I wrapped my arms around him from behind and just hugged him and thanked him for everything he did for me. He never said a word, he never looked at me. He just continued nailing down the top while fighting back tears himself. No words needed to be spoken, no eye contact made, we were both grieving the loss of Riley.
Earlier I said that I was the youngest of Deland’s two daughters; however, this statement requires a small clarification. Yes, I am the youngest of his two biological daughters, but my family has hosted eight foreign exchange students over the years, all being girls. Maybe we are not considered to be a ‘typical’ family, but sometimes dear friends become even closer than family. This is the case with a few of these former exchange students. Therefore, my Dad is indeed the father of two biological daughters, but he has also become the ‘American Dad’ to a few of these girls. This level of love and commitment stems from the same life principles he learned as a child. What’s more, this love and commitment is why he cared for some friends so deeply. It is for this reason that I need to tell you that yes, my family has lost a great deal this week – we lost a husband, a father, and a Grandfather; however, I know that there are some relatives and friends who were so close to my father that they too are suffering a great deal. Therefore, I want you to know how sorry I am for your loss, because I understand why my father might mean so much to you!!
My father was a man who knew what an honest day’s work was and delivered it without complaint or failure. When he had time, he loved the quiet and the solitude of nature, thus making hunting, fishing, and gardening some of his favorite pastimes. Considering the depth of his love of family and friends, you could almost measure his life in the assortment of photographs and home movies that he maintained. For me, I will always be his little girl and I thank God that his last words to me were my last words to him: “I love you.” I love you Dad; I have always loved you and I will always love you. Thank you for being my father, thank you for taking care of me, and thank you for loving me!
By Lois Cathleen Porath - December 22-26, 2019
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