Harland A. Nygard passed away on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at the Northern Pines Nursing Home Facility with his family at his side. He was born on July 29, 1934 in Two Harbors, MN to Haino and Lorena Nygard. He was married to Charlotte Urick in Gilbert, MN on Valentines Day, 1953. The two lived in Biwabik their entire married life and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this past February. They were the proud parents of four girls.
Harland spent his adult life quietly accomplishing many different things. His work ethic was like none other. His teenage years were spent on Lake Vermilion where he and his brother helped his parents run the Pine Trees Resort. Then moving to Biwabik, he worked at Helander’s Block Plant, Modern Homes of Biwabik, Gulbranson Excavating as equipment operator, Mary Ellen Mining Company, while running his own Nygard Excavating Company. It didn’t matter the job, he always worked where there was emplyment to take care of his family. He then was hired on at Erie Mining Company/LTV Steel (shovel mechanic), then Foreman in the Maintenance Shovel Department, Foreman in the Heavy Equipment Truck shop, and retired as General Foreman in the Shovel Department. During all this time, he was a member of the Biwabik Volunteer Fire Department from 1961-1983 and worked on the ambulance as an EMT. He also taught CPR classes for many years. Harland also served his city as an elected member of the Biwabik City Council and the Biwabik Planning Commission. He was also a founding member of the Mesabi Igloo Snowmobile Club, designing the logo for them. He spoke often of the good times with that group.
Harland was a lover of music, but his passion was playing polkas on his accordion. Although his fingers moved wonderfully across a piano keyboard, he could definitely strum a guitar like nobody’s business. He was an avid sportsman. Hunting, fishing – he did it all with his great love of the outdoors.
Another great love were his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. Harland raised his girls with the strong hand of a taskmaster. He taught them the value of working hard. But when his grandchildren began being born, well that was the time “Gramps” softened his attitude and those kids were everything to him. At his and Charlotte’s Vermilion cabin, at the hunting shack, at family events, he was always teaching them something, playing his accordion, or making beautiful handmade shovels for the boys and letting those little girls wrap him around their delicate little fingers. After retiring, he turned part of his garage into a wood shop where he fashioned furniture, created wooden toys and carved and painted handmade fishing lures.
Harland was preceded in death by his parents, Haino and Lorena, his only brother Wayne, his in-laws Frank and Viola Urick, and his brother-in-law Robert Urick.
His survivors include his wife Charlotte, his daughters Michelle Wiklund (Tim), Kim Mattson (Jeff), Susan Sailer (Jim), and Jodi Burgraff (Cal). Grandchildren Travis Mattson (April), Joe Sailer, Cassie Polla (Kevin), Trevor Mattson (Jodi), Tom Sailer, Matthew Erjavec (Molly), Jordan Wiklund (Rachel), Jared Wiklund (Kari), Kelsey Mattson (Joe Pugleasa) Andy Erjavec (Krystal), and 15 great grandchildren.
Our family would be remiss if we did not mention every employee at the Northern Pines Nursing Facility in Aurora, MN. From his doctors and nurses, the Hospice Staff, to the kitchen, maintenance and cleaning staff, there are no words to express our heartfelt thanks for everything they did for him from the time of his arrival to the day of his passing. We will always be grateful and every one of you will remain in our hearts.
We will miss you, Gramps.
“Nukima” as he would like to say…
Funeral service will be 10am Thursday, September 21, 2023 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Biwabik with Fr. Kristoffer McKusky officiating. Visitation will be Wednesday from 5-7pm at Ziemer-Moeglein-Shatava Funeral Home in Gilbert and will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church on Thursday. Inurnment will be at a later date in the Lakeside Cemetery in Biwabik.