Nancy Bjella, longtime Mobridge teacher, dies
Nancy Gay Bjella, 86, of Bismarck, N.D., passed away on Dec. 23, 2012, at Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center.
Funeral services were held Friday Dec. 28, 2012, at McCabe United Methodist Church in Bismarck. Burial was at Sunset Memorial Gardens under the direction of DaWise-Perry Funeral Services of Mandan, N.D.
Nancy was born on April 4, 1926, in Mobridge, the daughter of Leonard and Lucy (Kingsbury) Clark. She was raised and educated in Mobridge, graduating from Mobridge High School in 1944 after being very active in choral, vocal and ensemble music. Her love of music led her to attend Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, where she attained a BA in music. She majored in vocal plus graduate work at Northern State University in Aberdeen and summer observation work at UCLA.
Nancy married Herbert Bjella on June 10, 1950. They were married for 32 years until Herb’s death on Feb. 19, 1983. After college Nancy and Herb taught for many years. She taught choral music in Selby, Eureka, and became choral director in Mobridge.
Upon retiring, she and her husband, Herb, moved to Bismarck where for a short time she worked as teacher’s assistant at Roosevelt School. Later she accepted a position with North Dakota Department of Human Services from 1978 to 1991. Nancy enjoyed her work immensely and her co-workers became very meaningful friends. During this time she became a member of the McCabe Chancel Choir and later became the choir’s director. In 1988, she began organizing the McCabe Centennial Choir and in 1989 the group, attired in 1880s dress, traveled around the state representing the history of Methodist hymn-singing in North Dakota. The Centennial Commission recognized the group as an official representative. Later, the group continued singing under the name, Sounds of The Gospel. She was a very active person and loved the western atmosphere until the day she died.
Nancy was also interested in training and showing German shepherd dogs, having begun this activity in California in 1950. Nancy was past president of Bismarck Kennel Club. Also she was active in Order of the Eastern Star, a 66-year member, OES Past Matron Club, and the Shrine Hospital Auxiliary.
She is survived by nieces, Suzanne (Roger) Haug of Mandan, Libby (Frank) Kilzer of Bismarck, and Diana Clark and Linda Clark, both of Bonners Ferry, Idaho; nephews, Chris Clark of Bonners Ferry, Dave (Sue) Clark of Bismarck, and Tracy Clark, Missoula, Mont.
Nancy was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and brothers, Robert, Leonard, Kenneth, and Gordon.