Dr. Eric Thorsgard’s Legacy
Eric Thorsgard was born on July 8, 1958, to Ernest and Ina (Sundquist) Thorsgard in Northwood, ND. His family moved to Thief River Falls, MN, when he was one year old, where his father was a family doctor in the community. Eric’s childhood home was positioned on the banks of the Thief River, nurturing his love for water, adventure, and camping from a very young age. Eric would describe his upbringing as practically perfect and expressed his deep gratitude for the town of Thief River and the childhood it afforded him.
When Eric was ten years old, his father volunteered in a tuberculosis hospital in Papua, New Guinea taking his family on an incredible around-the-world experience for a year. This deeply impacted Eric in many ways that would be significant later in his life. Eric was a TRF’s varsity swimmer in high school and loved to tell stories about his inspirational Coach Kopari and his teammates that worked and swam so hard. Growing up, he had many adventures with the best of friends, who remain his true friends to this day. His family loved animals, especially horses, that they raised, bred, and trained to drive behind carriages and sleighs on the frozen river behind their house.
When Eric was 12 years old, he decided that he wanted to be a veterinarian, so he became focused on achieving that goal even at that early age. After graduating from High School in 1977, he went to Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, pursuing a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry to launch him into Veterinary School. During a summer break in his college years in 1981, he and his friends made a childhood dream come true and pushed off the banks of the river behind their house and started paddling their canoe to Hudson Bay. The trip took two months following the river and canoeing through Canada to reach their destination.
In 1983 Eric was accepted to the University of MN Veterinary School, where he thrived learning among brilliant professors and a tight-knit group of veterinary medical students. These were challenging and productive years in Eric’s life. In 1987, he achieved his goal of becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He took his first associate veterinarian position in a large animal practice in Perham, MN, where he practiced for six years under the tutelage of 2 fine veterinarians, Dr. Rose and Dr. Clausen. In 1991, he requested three months off and once again joined his childhood friend, Tony Brosseau, to dip their paddles in the river water, but this time heading to the Artic Ocean for another journey of a lifetime.
In 2010, Eric and Gerri became licensed for foster care in Beltrami County. They welcomed many children into their home over the years and ended up adopting three children; a son, Aksel, and two daughters, Erin and Rava (Pixie). The decision to become a foster family was inspired by his own father spending the year in New Guinea, and Eric wanted to give back to this world some of what he had been given.
Eric was enthusiastic about living life and proud of his Norwegian heritage. He had an unbridled curiosity for everything and was known for his inventive spirit, even winning the Northwest MN Foundation Idea Competition in 2009. Eric had a passion for the great outdoors & northern Minnesota. He enjoyed snowy winters, building igloos, snowboarding, and his 15 years as a Buena Vista Ski Patrol. His favorite place was at their family’s lake cabin on Clearwater Lake, being in a canoe, pulling his kids water skiing, floating the river, jumping from the dam, camping with his kids, grilling, and sitting on the deck overlooking the lake with the CWLC. Eric was generous and genuinely loved people, hosting companies and helping to elevate fun for others.
In October 2019, Eric was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme (cancerous brain tumor), which he fought valiantly and tirelessly for three years. He died peacefully on his 64th birthday at his “heaven on earth” lake home with his family at his side.
Dr. Eric will be greatly missed by clients, staff, and pets alike. The Animal Care Clinic Team will carry on his legacy by practicing the same care and compassion that Dr. Eric provided to his patients throughout his career.