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Obituary for Bemidji teacher/coach Mark Fodness, 61

Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - 12:18 PM

Mark Halvor Fodness, 61, of Bemidji passed away Wednesday, November 25th, 2020, at his home. Mark was a wonderful man, husband, and father, and his presence will be deeply missed by his family and friends. A limited capacity memorial service for family will be held Saturday, December 5 at Cease Family Funeral Home ( in Bemidji. A celebration of life will be planned for June 2021 when we will gather to honor his impact on so many students, friends, and family members (date and Bemidji location to be determined and communicated later.)

Mark is survived by his wife Karen, sons Kyle and Adam, and daughter Halle. He is also survived by his brother Scott (Lynda); sisters Sharon (Dave), Kathy (Pat); brother-in-law Mike Wheeler and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. He also valued his many friends including Randy Becker, his life-long friend since kindergarten.

Mark was born on April 19th,1959 (a birthday he was happy to share with his daughter Halle), to Halvor and Gertrude Fodness, and grew up in New Ulm, MN. After graduating from New Ulm High School in 1977, he attended Bemidji State University. He married Karen (Stevenson) in July, 1990 and together they shared many great years of raising their children, traveling and making a positive impact on those around them. He taught American History for thirty-two years at Bemidji Middle School. Considered a favorite teacher by many of his students, he went “above and beyond” in every aspect of his teaching and coaching. While teaching, Mark also created projects like “Raking Days,” “Star Search,” and countless others to benefit his students’ education. He coached 33 seasons of tennis at Bemidji High School, 7 years at Bemidji State, and also coached speech & debate, football, soccer, basketball, and baseball, including his son, Kyle, in all of those sports.

He enjoyed hiking, scuba diving, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, hunting, various athletics, and learning to enjoy (and excel at) a wide variety of activities and pursuits. He often amazed those around him with his unceasing energy and ability to see the positive side of any situation. Mark was an active leader and volunteer in a number of different activities and organizations, but most often was a volunteer in helping those around him because he considered it to be the right thing to do.

He was an avid reader and a thoughtful observer of society, and was proud to have passed on that value to his own children and many others.

Memorials given will be divided between places and causes that Mark valued most, including Flandrau State Park in New Ulm (a sapling or a bench in Mark’s memory).

Messages of condolence and support for Mark’s family are very much appreciated and may be left at

Also, Kyle has created a new email address to collect stories and fond memories.

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