Bourne, Richard Wentworth

Richard W. “Dick” Bourne, Major, USAF (Retired)
November 18, 1934 – October 6, 2016

Richard “Dick” Wentworth Bourne took his final flight on 06 Oct, 2016 after battling cancer for more than two years. He was a friend to everyone as well as a distinguished military officer, educator, father, husband and hoarder. Not a man for material possessions – he would give you the shirt off his back. However, he never threw away a receipt or bank statement in his 82 years.

A celebration of life will be held at Oakes Public School Gymnasium with a parade and reception at the Angry Beaver Lodge in Oakes on October 22, 2016 starting at 2:00. Burial will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery with a full military ceremony.

Dick was oldest of 12 siblings, born a diehard Red Sox fan to Osgood Wentworth and Winifred Daley Bourne on Nov. 18, 1934 in Wakefield, MA. He was active in football, baseball, and basketball and was voted “Most Handsome” in his graduating class at Ayer High School. He joined the Navy at 17 to help his family and begin to realize his dream of world travel. He trained as an airplane mechanic and deployed to the Pacific toward the end of the Korean War, where he met his first love: All things aviation. Leaving the Navy after his first “hitch,” he thumbed his way to California to work for his Uncle Frank, plastering buildings. In 1956, he entered pilot training as an aviation cadet in Texas and began an affair that defined him. Dick was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant Dec. 5, 1957 and was designated as a U.S. Air Force pilot. After completing follow-on helicopter and survival training, he reported to his first assignment flying H-19 helicopters in Japan. On his very first mission, Dick flew nearly 48 hours straight rescuing 166 Japanese citizens from a flood earning him his first Distinguished Flying Cross and personal recognition from the Emperor of Japan. After telling that story hundreds of times at the Officer’s Club, he returned to serve as the Wyoming Civil Air Patrol Liaison, where he met and married his first wife, Katrinka Bly. His military career continued for another decade with over 1,052 combat hours in Vietnam as well as a search and rescue tour in Alaska and missile silo missions in Montana. Dick ended his 22-year military career in 1973, accumulating 8,500 flight hours in 34 different types of helicopters and airplanes. Although a combat veteran of two wars, Dick was most proud of the 30 peace-time helicopter rescue missions he conducted saving some 300 lives.

Dick started his second career as the lead Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor in 1976 at Fargo North High School, where he served for 17 years. Known as “The Maj,” Dick received dozens of national outstanding instructor awards and was beloved by the students. Always giving, he could consistently be found lending an ear to young students in distress. However, he was an exacting inspector who was feared during Thursday uniform inspections! His color guard marched with precision and brought great honor to thousands of events. During his JROTC conclusion, he was inducted in 2003 to the Fargo North High School Hall of Fame.

After a short teaching stint in Misawa, Japan, Dick wed his second wife, Kathy Fenno and settled in Oakes, ND, for the last 23 years. A staple of the Oakes community, Dick could be seen everywhere and heard even farther. He was a substitute teacher who was loved for how he could be coaxed off task. (Little did they know they were learning more about life than any school lesson.) He also volunteered as a bartender at the golf course for lady’s night, coordinated the American Legion baseball program, spearheaded the revival of the Veteran’s Day celebrations, helped fundraise for the new hospital, led annual Boy Scout camping trips, tutored for the geography bee and remained the most fanatical Oakes wrestling fan to ever help with the Potato Harvest. Many Oakes Folks would smile when Dick would come in a room with a big “Whoo-hoo” and give bear hugs, whether wanted or not.

Dick will be remembered for his generosity, unpretentiousness, huge heart, loving spirit, ferocious appetite, gluten-reactions, humble service, unwavering loyalty, and zest for life.
Richard is survived by his wife Kathy Fenno Bourne. Children: Toni Rivas (Juan, Raymondville, TX – Francisca & Abbie Anna), Brett Bourne (Catrin, Swansboro, NC- Carl & Charlotte), Kristina Bourne (Tim Valentine, Duluth, MN – Daley & Finley). Roberta Charpentier (Marti, Chamberlin MN- Rachel, (Zach) Hannah, Daniel), Kris Carlson (Todd, Pelican Rapids MN- Cole & Rhett), Robert Fenno (Renelle, Fargo, ND – Zachary, Alexis, & Andrea), Kim Schmit (Doug, Oakes, ND- Ellie (Ethan), Robert & Christopher), Rich Fenno (Kelly, Fargo, ND – Ty). Siblings: Wayne (Mary) Bourne, Russell (Betty) Bourne, and Margaret Bourne.

Richard was predeceased by his parents, Son: Ron (Mel-Battle Lake, MN Jessica & Jacob) Fenno, Siblings: David Bourne, Roberta Doyle, Francis Bourne, Kenneth Bourne, Patricia Martin, Barbara Wylie, Bruce Bourne, and Winifred Bourne.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the memorial scholarship fund being set up at Oakes High School, 804 Main Ave, Oakes, ND 58474. Memories may be shared and viewed online at


October 22, 2016 2:11 PM
Maj. Bourne was my biggest role model when I was growing up. I had the pleasure of being in his Jr. ROTC for 4 years at Ben Franklin and Fargo North High School 1983-1987. He got us all multiple rides on Air Force aircrafts, took us on multiple field trips, from air shows to community service as a group (pulling weeds), practice on the flight simulator, march with the color guard and we even started a new drill team. I always loved the Maj. and he truly cared for all of us. Major Bourne helped shape who I became. I will always cherish the time I got to spend with him. He will be with me for the rest of my life. I salute you Major Bourne.
Roger Teegarden, Fargo

October 20, 2016 12:58 PM
Thank you Maj Bourne for your JROTC program in Fargo. Without your teaching and mentoring, I would never have joined the service. Without the service, my life would have been less fulfilling. Thank you for your inspiration to me and so many others. Our lives were improved because of you. We’ll now do our best to continue exemplifying your character during our remaining lives. In this way, your work and beliefs live on. What you gave to us, we give to others, and they in turn give to others. We are all blessed to have you in our lives. God certainly blesses you and keeps you.
MSgt (Ret.) Norm Reich, Colorado Springs, CO
October 14, 2016 10:14 AM   
I am very thankful for Major Bourne’s presence and influence in my life. His encouragement made a real difference in my youth in the 1980s and continues to guide me as an Officer. My sincere condolences to his family.
 Karl Altenburg, North Dakota
October 13, 2016 3:51 PM   
Kris, Todd and family. Prayers for all at this most difficult time.
Peggy Wadena
October 13, 2016 12:12 PM   
My deepest, heart-felt condolences to the Bourne family–they and this nation lost a great man last week. I’m thankful for having had the privilege of knowing Major Dick Bourne. The many stories he told of his life and of all the many places he had seen gave countless young kids (like myself) the confidence to dream big and the desire to see for ourselves this exciting world he described. He was our role-model and hero–I was never so proud as on that day in 1988 when he personally commissioned me a 2nd Lt in the US Air Force. That was the first day of an incredible 21-year- long adventure that, like him, took my family and me to places and gave us memories we never could have imagined. They most likely never would have happened, and I wouldn’t be who I am today, if it weren’t for his encouragement and mentorship way back then. He truly cared for his students. He made a difference. May God richly bless his family for the love and support they gave him and for the sacrifices they surely made in support of his service to his country and to his many students. Respectfully, Mark W. Tesmer, Lt Col, USAF (ret)
Mark Tesmer, Centerville, Ohio
October 11, 2016 11:26 PM   
I met Major Bourne in JROTC at Ben Franklin. I was a student at Shanley HS who went to Fargo North daily to attend his class. He even came in early so I could attend class and still get back to SHS before class started. He was a mentor that has been an inspiration to me over all these years. RIP Major thanks for all you did for all your students.
Jerry Bannerman, Menomonee Falls, WI
October 10, 2016 11:29 PM   
So saddened to learn of Major Bournes passing. Not a day goes by, that I can forget The Maj’s guidance in my life. He helped me with his words of wisdom, at a time in my young life, when I needed it the most. Thank you Sir for helping a young student in need of guidance, and for being a mentor, at a time, when the ones I was counting on were not there. Salute Maj., you helped this cadet more than you ever knew.
Shawn Ramsholm, Fargo, North Dakota
October 10, 2016 10:59 PM   
The “Majah” was a colleague of mine for many years at Fargo North. He was an excellent teacher and a mentor to many students in our school at that time. He always had a smile on his face and was happy to greet you each day. I wish I would have had the chance to tell him this in person. He was quite a guy!
Don Dumais
Don Dumais, Troy, Ohio
October 10, 2016 1:21 PM   
Dick was truly one of those people whom you will never forget. We are both Air Force officers who knew Dick, and our son was in the first JROTC class at North for three years. Major Bourne was a great influence in his life and Dick never forgot and always asked about him.  As one who also began my career in the Navy, we wish him fair winds and a following sea.
Ron & Nancy Saeger, North Fargo
October 10, 2016 8:15 AM   
AFJROTC graduate 84-89. Thank you Maj. Bourne for your guidance and inspiration.
Michael, Watertown, SD
October 9, 2016 9:38 PM   
Mr. Bourne was a memorable substitute teacher that never ran out of high fives or enthusiasm! He would fill in for our kindergarten phy’ed and music classes on occasion. Every time he returned the kids to me he would say, “Bless you for being a kindergarten teacher! You deserve a nip and a nap!” HE was a blessing to all those around him! Kelli Gebhardt
Kelli Gebhardt, Oakes, ND
October 9, 2016 5:45 PM   
His leadership of the JRAFROTC program was outstanding. He treated students as responsible young adults and they responded positively. As the principal of Fargo South and an Air Force vet, I knew the students and program was in outstanding hands! One of the best may he RIP.
Dick Warner, Fargo,ND

October 9, 2016 3:36 PM
We are saddened at the news of the passing of Richard Bourne. He was one of the best USAF officer’s I knew. He mentored me when I was a newly commissioned 2nd Lt in the ND Air Guard and was someone I looked up to and admired all my career. We were in email contact for years. He will truly be missed. God bless the memory of Richard Bourne!
E John & Brenda Carlson, Fargo, ND

October 9, 2016 3:35 PM
My heart went out to you all when I saw this announcement of a beautiful man and a life well lived. Dick and I were part of the Fargo Public Schools. We shared students, colleagues, and stories. He returned every hug with one twice as affirming. He laughed at the wonderful and giggled at the inane. He never missed an opportunity to praise in public and if needed corrections were only done in private. He exemplified a gentleman and he was a gentle man.
“To care for another is to know their song and when can no longer sing, to sing it for them.”(Unknown) May we all sing Dick’s song. Thank you for sharing him. Nancy J.
Nancy Jordheim, Fargo

October 9, 2016 1:14 AM
Major Bourne was one of the reasons I decided to serve our Nation in the Armed Forces.
Paul Wadnizak
October 8, 2016 7:28 PM
My deepest sympathies and condolences at the passing of my mentor Major Bourne! My favorite teacher at Fargo North. A truly great man, and inspiration too many of his students. Fargo North Class of 1979 U.S. Army 1979 – 1982.
Eric Rommesmo, Fargo, ND
October 8, 2016 5:13 PM
Sympathy to his family such a great man!
Angie Baasch and Family, Oakes, ND
October 8, 2016 3:48 PM
Maj, you taught me respect and courage. The military was a dream I did not get to fulfill after high school but the ways of discipline and respect I carried out into my adult life. And I thank you for that. My son is in the military also enlisting at 17yrs old and is coming up on 5yrs. He thanked me for giving him the drive and motivation to never give up which I owe to you. Forever in our hearts. Thank you for your service and the man you were. Class of 93′
 Nichole Bruns, West Fargo, ND

October 8, 2016 3:44 PM
My condolences to Kathy and family, Dick was a great guy, always enjoyed meeting up with him.
Bob Maddock, Oakes

October 8, 2016 1:33 PM
We loved everything about Dick. Will miss him greatly.
Jay, Jennifer, Karlie &Kollen Knutson, Oakes

October 8, 2016 12:40 PM
What a man he was full of Zest for life, filled with knowledge, exploding with love for everyone. Without a doubt truly one of a kind. A true American totally whom we learned so much from. We will miss this man so much, but we are richer because of him. He lit up a room and gave to all around a smile. Even while he was laying in the hospital so ill with this dreadful cancer he looked at me and with a big grin and a twinkle greeted as though nothing was wrong. We salute you Dick for serving our country to teaching our kids. For all you did for our town, and for being just a good guy. Till we greet you with a bear hug, watch over us and continue to spread peace wherever you visit.
Bonnie Maley, Oakes

October 8, 2016 12:37 PM
A truly great man has left us. Kind, helpful and considerate, Dick was the epitome of a true gentleman. Our deepest condolences to all who loved him.
Sharron and Bill Henjum, Oakes

October 8, 2016 12:11 PM
He will be missed!! When Dick would come into my travel agent office to buy an airline ticket for his next adventure, I learned more about his destination than just the day of departure and return. I got a geography lesson, the origination of the event he was attending and the possible airports (complete with airport codes) he could fly into. I never mentioned it to him, but when in business I was kicking around the idea of becoming a North Dakota destination operator. He was at the top of my list to be the tour guide. Rest in Peace my dear friend. My deepest sympathy and love to the family.
Fran Helwig, Oakes

October 8, 2016 11:42 AM
Toni and Brett, I’m very sorry for your loss. The Major was a great asset to our country.
Mark Menzie, Milwaukee

October 8, 2016 11:19 AM
The Maj was instrumental in helping me get appointed to the US Air Force Academy. I will be forever grateful. He was one of a kind and will be missed. Having him as an instructor was one of my best memories from high school.
Lainie Walkinshaw, Brighton, Colorado

October 8, 2016 11:17 AM
My condolences go out to the Bourne family. . As a former student, I remember Major. Bourne well. When we didn’t want to take a test or do something in class all we had d to do was ask him about a helicopter or something similar and could get him off topic long enough to not do whatever it was that we didn’t want to do.
Nevin Clemenson, Fargo, ND

October 8, 2016 11:12 AM
My deepest sympathy to the family. He was a teacher and good man. He encouraged many young boys to men, including my son, if it hadn’t been for him my son, Scott, may not have been the son, the man, the father and husband that he is today. Many thanks Major Bourne for all that you have done.
Melody Mertz-Dixon, Casselton, ND

October 8, 2016 10:06 AM
An amazing man. Always a smile and a hug for everyone. Thank you for serving our country in the service. Also thank you for serving our children. Every time you subbed at school I knew it was a day the kids learned not just from a book but from the heart. No one will ever be able to fill your shoes. Nor would we want anyone to.
Robbin Witkowski, Gwinner, ND

October 8, 2016 9:36 AM
A great & loving man! A man who loved everyone, whether you had him in class or not! The Maj touched everyone’s lives! Miss ya Maj!! Tammy ’82.
Tammy Holen, BILLINGS, MT

October 8, 2016 9:07 AM
I won’t ever forget his days as a substitute teacher. Anyone would be lucky to live life as he did! He will be missed.
Cale Peterson, Mohall, ND

October 8, 2016 8:55 AM
I’ll never forget Major Bourne. Anyone who had him as an instructor, mentor or friend was very blessed. A truly great man. Fargo North High, 1993.
Kelly DeBerg, Sioux Falls, SD

October 8, 2016 3:19 AM
I was in 9th grade at Ben Franklin Jr High when I met Maj Bourne in 1976 in his first Jr ROTC class.
Great man that I look up to still to this day.
Glenn Kapaun, Saint Paul, MN.

October 8, 2016 2:48 AM
Maj Bourne was my first Air Force instructor, in JROTC at Fargo North. He was a larger than life character who always had something witty to say. The Maj. helped introduce me to what it meant to be an Airman. I am a better man for having learned from him in my youth… He will be remembered fondly.
Scott Paul, Elmendorf AFB, AK

October 8, 2016 2:07 AM
I was one of Major Bourne’s former cadets. I was Cadet/ Captain John Smith. His logistics officer for 2 years, he was a great man with great stories to tell of his time in the service. He will surely be missed by all who knew him, and respected him to.
John D Smith, Moorhead, MN

October 8, 2016 12:06 AM
Thank you so much for helping me chase my dreams and making rotce one of my joys in my life.
Sacha Velimirovich, Eagan

October 7, 2016 11:33 PM
So sorry to hear about Major Bourne’s passing. He was my ROTC instructor from 1978-1981. His influence helped me achieve a 30+ year career as an engineer for the USAF. His influence helped to make me the man that I am. I’ll always be thankful to him.
Love, Jeff Rudh
Jeff Rudh, Ogden, Utah

October 7, 2016 11:17 PM    Toni and family,
So sorry to hear about your dad. I have so many good memories from our Fargo North days. He truly was one of a kind! May all your memories bring you comfort at this very difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Kim Scheidecker and family.
Kim Scheidecker, Fargo, ND

October 7, 2016 10:00 PM
Andrew Marschall, Fargo, ND

October 7, 2016 1:41 PM
Major Bourne had a huge impact on my life as a young man. He was an incredible leader and motivator. Thanks for all you did for me! You will be missed, but your impact lives on in the scores of young men you mentored at a pivotal time in their lives.
Nathan DeVine, Parker, CO

October 7, 2016 9:24 AM
Kathy, I was so saddened when I heard of Dick’s passing. Your heart I am sure is heavy as all of ours. Dick impacted so many different people in his own special, wonderful way. He will truly be missed by so many. I know my son Tyler had so much respect for Dick and thought the world of him. When I told him of Dick’s passing he said that he was a great man. Many of us feel that way. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Kathy Barber, Oakes

October 6, 2016 8:55 PM    I am so saddened to hear about Mr. Bourne. I had the privilege of getting to know him while he subbed at North Sargent. I do not have enough kind words to share about this wonderful man. He will be missed by all. My sympathies to his family, friends and community.
Traci Hanson, Gwinner, ND

October 6, 2016 7:57 PM
I am so sad that we have lost a truest faithful Oakes Resident, but I am happy that God has chosen a better plan for Mr. Bourne, one where his health isn’t a concern. He is at total peace now. God has a mission for him up in Heaven. His kindness and generosity will never be forgotten here on earth, but Heaven has gained a wonderful soul. I didn’t know him well, but what I did know is that he exemplified a true gentleman. May thoughts and prayers to his family.
Lori Burley, Oakes, ND

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