Bjarne “Slip” Tonneson


July 31, 2020

Dell Rapids, SD

On a small Iowa farm, Bjarne was born to Norwegian immigrant parents Birger and Ragna Tonneson. One of five children, he attended a small country school and later graduated from Harrisburg High School in 1950. In high school is where he met Patricia, the pretty girl he asked to the 1949 junior prom. Three years later they were married in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was stationed in the Air Force. In 1956, after departing the service, the young couple made their first real home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After nine years of city living, they moved to the country to raise the family.  The acreage was near Baltic where they lived for twenty-two years raising five children. In 1987, Bjarne and Pat made their final move to Dell Rapids where he lived until his death. 

Bjarne earned the nickname Slip when his parents traveled to Norway and he stayed at home with a hired hand who accused him of “slipping” out of his farm chores. Anyone who knows Bjarne knows that he never shied away from a day’s work; nevertheless, the ironic nickname stuck. Slip first put that strong work ethic to use as an avionics electrician in the Air Force. He served for four years, including an 18-month tour in Japan. After returning home, he put his mechanical skills to work for John Morrell & Company where he became the fleet maintenance and garage division supervisor. After devoting thirty-six years to Morrells, Slip retired and became the transportation supervisor for the Dell Rapids School District for fifteen years.  His work did not cease, however, at the five o’clock whistle. Slip was known for saying that “work was his hobby.” He enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing his well-tended lawn, his clean and orderly garage, and his properly running vehicles. He was also innovative, looking for ways to “get the job done.” When the job was finished, he could often be found watching his Twins hitting it out of the ballpark, fishing with his friends and relatives, and encouraging and supporting his children and grandchildren in their many endeavors. 

Bjarne enjoyed his work and his hobbies, but he loved his family more. He is preceded in death by his parents Birger and Ragna; his sisters Sylvia, Gerd, and Violet; and his brother Carl. 

He is survived by his wife, Patricia; five children including Lon (Kathy), Glyndon, MN; James (Pam), Sioux Falls, SD; Larry (Ginny), Williamsburg, VA; Todd (Julie), Eagan, MN; Ann Sittig (Bob), Baltic, SD; fourteen grandchildren; and 13 great grandchildren with another great grandchild due soon. 

Visitation is Tuesday, Aug. 4, from 5-7 p.m. at Minnehaha Funeral Home, Dell Rapids, S.D.

A private funeral service will be held Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, Dell Rapids. Service will be livestreamed beginning at 10:30 AM at the Minnehaha Funeral Home & Cremation Services Facebook Page.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to a charity of one’s choice.