David 'Dave' Erick Bjelland, 75
On May 27, 1947, a tenacious, warrior spirit was born that the world came to know as David “Dave” Erick Bjelland, born in Minot, North Dakota, to Alf and Irene (Jensen) Bjelland. Fondly to his family and anyone inherited he was also known as "Pop," "Papa" or "Gramps."
At the age of 75, Dave passed away on July 21, 2022, at Logan Health Medical Center.
Like a true warrior, he was strong-willed, kind, stubborn, stoic and in the eyes of many, a hero. Through the years he survived many battles with cancer. Our warrior went to one final battle with cancer and graciously lost his fight. David was surrounded by his loving family members at the time of his passing.
Dave attended Douglas School and graduated in 1965. For one year he attended Auto Mechanic Tech School, before being drafted into the Army. He spent two years in the Army and one year in the perilous jungles of Vietnam at war. Surviving hell on earth affected Dave's life for his remaining years.
His service in the military did not go unnoticed, his medals and experience were something Dave was proud of. He received the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge 1st Award, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device, and Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar. Dave was Army Company B 1st Battalion (Airborne) 8th Cavalry.
After leaving the military, Dave had his first-born Sherri and spent the next 30 years in California as a truck driver. In 1996 he made the move to Montana to where his mother was living.
Beyond his military service, Dave had many things he was proud of and enjoyed in life. It took him a few tries, but his wife Laura was the love of his life. Laura was the only one who could calm the haunting and night terrors of Vietnam. She was the best thing to happen to him and many others echo that sentiment. Together, they shared a life of sobriety. Dave was proudly 23 years sober and counting at the time of his passing. His eight grandchildren were the light of his life and kept him beaming with pride. Each relationship with them was special and unique. His favorite hobby was gold panning in Libby Crick. Dave was a great marksman, another passion of his was buying and selling guns, and deep discussions about guns with his great-nephew Garrett Radabah.
Anyone who knew Dave, knew he was one-of-a-kind. His sense of humor never left him in spite of the trials life put him through. Without fail, his last joke was asking his nurse for whiskey when asked if he needed anything else to keep him comfortable. While he had a temper that all of his children and grandchildren liked to spark, he never strayed from being kind and helping anyone who needed it. He kept God close to his heart and prayed often. Everyday when his grandchildren were young Dave would start the day by calling the housę right in the midst of morning chaos, just to hear the voices of the ones he loved. He taught us all to slow down a little, have a little more heart and a little less worry, to be in love with life regardless of the season we are in. There are many more lessons that came directly from him, and anyone touched by his spirit will spend a lifetime unpacking those heart given gifts.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and mother-in-law Carolyn Hart (morning coffee pal).
He is survived by his wife Laura Wester, brother Norman Bjelland, sister Cecilia (Dan) Bjelland-Lane, daughter Sherri (Ernie) Martinez, stepson Cody Wester, daughter-in-law Angel Wester, stepson Landon Wester (Amber Widhalm); grandchildren, Jolene Jones, Stormy (Jon) Sturz, Cassie Heaton, Geoffrey O'Neill, Santana Wester, Dani Wester, Ragan Wester and Bohyn Wester; great-grandchildren, Rayne O'Neill, Jake Sturz, Sayde Sturz, as well as another great-grandson Sturz on the way; also many nieces, nephews and cousins.
To respect the wishes of Dave a service will not be scheduled. Buffalo Funeral Home is taking care of the family and cremation has taken place,
A celebration of life potluck barbecue will be held for family and friends on Aug. 13 at 1836 Trumble Creek Road, Kalispell, MT 59901 from 1 to 5 p.m. Military honors will take place at 2 p.m.