Stan was born March 12, 1918 in Bemidji, Minn. to Olaf and Sofie Henriksen Risland, both Norwegian immigrants. Until he started first grade, he spoke only Norwegian. One of 12 children (and 2 more who died in infancy), Stan began working just after his eighth grade graduation to help support the family. He worked continuously after that, until well into his 80s. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became a skilled, self-taught building contractor.
He served in World War II in the Navy, and on November 13, 1942 he was wounded in the battle of Guadalcanal, aboard the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco. All five main officers were killed in the tower just above where Stan was on duty as a gunner’s mate behind a 5” gun on the bridge. Most of the guns were put out of action, and the ship was so badly damaged that it’s nothing short of a miracle that anyone survived. For this incident, Stan was awarded a purple heart and a Presidential unit citation.
While recuperating in port, he met Frances Gertrude Ryken, and they married soon afterward, on March 25, 1943. He went back to sea on a destroyer escort which didn’t see any action. After the war ended, the couple moved briefly to Bemidji, then to Prineville, Ore. where their first four children were born, and finally in 1957 they moved for the last time to Plains. There they raised a total of seven children on the family farm just outside town.
He was a loving husband and father, kindhearted and hardworking. He could build or repair just about anything, but he was especially talented at building rock fireplaces, which were like works of art. He worked on a large number of homes in Plains, leaving as a legacy a number of beautiful rock fireplaces around town. He was such an animal lover that he’d toss them “just a little more feed” every time he walked by, and they learned to take full advantage of his soft heart. He spent most of his time working at his trade, but he also enjoyed hunting, woodworking, fishing, and was an avid reader of nonfiction, but especially his Bible.
In his younger years, he also enjoyed ice skating, baseball (playing on a team), and he enjoyed riding motorcycles and hot-rodding on frozen Lake Bemidji.
Stan was preceded in death in January 2009 by his wife of 66 years, Frances; his brothers, Arvid, Mel, Ed, Irven, Arnold and Palmer; and his sisters, Ruth and Margaret. He is survived by his son, Daniel (Dianne) of Paradise, daughters Pam (Michael) Gardiner of Sultan, Wash.; Jan (Jody) Shano of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Nancy Marten of Vaughn, Mont, Susan Risland of Plains, Sally (Daniel) Lilja of Plains, and Rebecca (Mark) Sorenson of Spokane, Wash.; his siblings, Dorothy Cookston of Bremerton, Wash., Evelyn Williams of Keizer, Ore., and Marlyce Wallace of Vallejo, Calif.; and by numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Stan was always willing to help anyone who needed it; he particularly had a heart for helping widows around Plains with home repairs, for which he charged very little or sometimes nothing at all. He was honest, patient, generous, kindhearted and giving, and he will be greatly missed by so many who knew and loved him.