Harry W. Torgerson, a former music teacher and musician in Great Falls, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 at age 98, in Columbia Falls.
He was born June 8, 1919, to Henry and Jessie Torgerson in Superior, Wisconsin, but grew up in Minneapolis.
A veteran of World War II, he served with the 34th Infantry Division in Ireland, England, North Africa, Italy and Sicily. At the war’s end he was discharged as a member of the Army Air Force. After the war he finished his education at the University of Minnesota and taught high school music and social studies at Delano, Minnesota. In 1951 he moved to Great Falls and taught instrumental music at West Jr. High School for 28 years.
As a musician, he was an active member of the Great Falls Symphony, the Municipal Band, the University of Great Falls Band, First Congregational Church Choir and various dance bands. Over the years, he played an untold number of concerts, dances, shows, parades, fairs and dance recitals. He also served as a board member and officer of the Great Falls Teacher’s Association, the Musician’s Union, the Great Falls Symphony, the Municipal Band and the First Congregational Church.
In 1942, just before going to the war in Europe, Harry married Dorothy Hedtke, his high school sweetheart. Their four children are Donald (Libby), Richard (Sheryl), Diane (David Spencer), and Robert (Elaine). Their grandchildren are Aaron, David (Shirley), Jessie (Michael), Katie and Molly, and a great-granddaughter, Sophia.
Harry and Dorothy, a home economics teacher, at East Jr. High, retired in 1979. They enjoyed a long retirement with many foreign and domestic travels and visits with their families and friends. Traditionally, their family gathered each summer for a week’s reunion at their cabin at Lake Five.
Dorothy passed away in 2009 at age 90. She and Harry had a happy loving relationship of over 70 years. Since his wife’s death, Harry had lived in Columbia Falls with his oldest son, Donald, and his wife, Libby. He was very proud of his children and was thankful for having lived a long and pleasant life, with his loving wife and family. In his 1997 memoir he echoed Yogi Berra who said,
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” His last humorous thought probably was, “Well, now it’s over. Goodbye and good luck. Thanks and love to one and all.”
A memorial service will be held in the spring at a time yet to be determined at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 2900 9th Ave. S., Great Falls.
Any donations in Harry’s memory can be sent to the First Congregational United Church of Christ, P.O. Box 6303, Great Falls, MT 59406; the Great Falls Symphony, 11 3rd St. N., Great Falls, MT 59401; or the charity of your choice.
Columbia Mortuary is caring for Harry’s family.