University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Remembering Clifford Thomforde

Clifford John Thomforde, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, died March 21 at Valley Eldercare Center in Grand Forks.  He was 92.

Clifford (Cliff) Thomforde was born Dec. 15, 1917, to John and Sophia (Kerber) Thomforde in Crookston, Minn.  He grew up and attended school in Crookston, graduating in 1935.  He earned his first amateur radiolLicense in 1933 with the call of WØOGZ, a call he retained to this day. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in electrical engineering in 1941.

He married Evelyn Ramstad June 11, 1941, in Crookston. Cliff then joined the Federal Communications Commission in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco, Calif., where he worked closely with the Air Force to set up an early warning system to protect the United States from surprise attacks from Japan.  In 1942, he was employed by Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which manufactured radio communications equipment for the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

Cliff was appointed assistant professor of electrical engineering at UND in 1947. He then attended Iowa State University during the summers and earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1951. In 1954, he was promoted to professor of engineering and chair of the department.  He held the position of chair until 1974. He retired from the University in 1982 and was awarded professor emeritus status. He was elected to the UND School of Engineering and Mines Academy in 2004.

Cliff began engineering consulting for radio and TV stations in 1955, restricting his activity to the nearby states of Minnesota and North Dakota. After retiring from teaching in 1982, he enlarged his consulting business to include additional states west of the Mississippi.

Cliff was a 65-year member of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Grand Forks. He held many offices, served on numerous committees and volunteered many hours of service to the church.

He was elected to the Grand Forks City Council in 1968 and served two four year terms. He was appointed to the City Planning and Zoning Commission in 1970 and elected as chairperson, serving in this capacity from 1974 through 1981. During that period, the commission recommended to the City Council the Columbia Road overpass and the Columbia Mall.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, daughters Jacqueline Spillum, of Huron, S.D., and Kathleen Longmuir (Gordon), of Youngstown, Ohio, and a son, Dale (Jan), of Rochester, Minn.,  six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Sophia, two siblings in infancy, and brothers Arthur, Lorenz, Harold and sister, Clara Anderson.

The family requests that contributions be made to the Wesley United Methodist Memorial Fund or to the UND EE Dept through the Alumni office.

Memorial Services are at 11 a.m.  Saturday March 27, 2010 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1600 4th Ave. N., Grand Forks.

Visitation: One hour prior to the memorial service at the church.

Inurnment: 11 a.m. Monday, March 29, at Oakdale Cemetery in Crookston.

A guestbook may be viewed or signed at  — Information courtesy of Grand Forks Herald and Amundson Funeral Home.