In Memoriam - David A. Vaaler, '57

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


David A. Vaaler, 88, of Grand Forks, ND died on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, surrounded by his family.

David Allen Vaaler was born on February 6, 1930, in Mason City, IA the son of Paul T. and Thelma (Thorson) Vaaler. When David was five years old, his family moved to Grand Forks, where he lived the remainder of his life and graduated from Grand Forks Central High School in 1947. He went on to graduate from the University Of North Dakota School Of Law in 1957 with a Juris Doctor degree. While attending college, he met his future wife, Nan Stokesberry. They were united in marriage on August 29, 1953, in Walker, Minnesota. After obtaining his college degree, he joined his father in the insurance business. Following his father's death, he assumed ownership and management of Vaaler Insurance in Grand Forks. He expanded the business to include locations in Fargo, ND, Bismarck, ND and Minneapolis, MN. At the age of 76, when most people are enjoying retirement, David decided to start a new venture and built Stay & Play Pet Resort in Grand Forks.

David and Nan loved to travel with their five children, Julie, Bruce, Jill, Carolyn and Nancy. They spent many years hauling the family to scenic spots around the country in their pop-up camper. When that grew too small for the family of seven, they found a lake home on Pike Bay in Cass Lake, Minnesota, and then one on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota. David and Nan loved traveling to different parts of the world, often bringing along their five children. As everyone's families grew, they included the spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. David was happiest when he was spending time with his family, his dogs and his golfing buddies. He also loved spending his winters at his home in Maui, Hawaii.

David was very active in the community of Grand Forks. He served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce in 1972 and on the board of directors of many organizations, including: YMCA, Salvation Army, UND Alumni Association and First National Bank, to name a few. He was also instrumental in introducing Junior Achievement to the Grand Forks Public School District.

David is survived by his wife of 65 years, Nan, his children, Julie Vaaler-Cinelli, Bruce (Renee) Vaaler, Jill (Ken) Jore, Carolyn LaDue (John Fulp), Nancy (Steve) Johnson, all of Grand Forks, ND, 12 grandchildren, David (Elise) Vaaler, Jennifer (Zac) Marben, Matthew Jore, Andrew Vaaler, Christina (Tom) Haug, Paul LaDue, Ellie Johnson, Jennie Cinelli, Luke Johnson, Callie Jore, Katie LaDue and Max Johnson, 5 great-grandchildren, Hallie Haug, Avery Haug, Radley Marben, Emma Haug, and Freya Vaaler, a nephew, Jeffrey Vaaler, and a niece, Gretchen (Stephen) Folson.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Robert and an infant sister, Nancy.

David's family prefers memorials be given to the Circle of Friends Humane Society, 4375 North Washington St. Grand Forks, ND 58203 or the Alzheimer's Association, 225 North Michigan Avenue, Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601.

Memorial Service: 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 30, 2018 in First Presbyterian Church, 5555 South Washington Street, Grand Forks, ND.

Family Greeting: One hour prior to the service in the church on Friday.

Interment: Memorial Park North Cemetery, Grand Forks, ND, at a later date.