University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Remembering Thomas Leake

Thomas Allen Leake, retired UND Facilities staff member, 75, of Emerado, N.D., passed away on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, surrounded by his wife and children.

Thomas was born on Jan. 2, 1947, in Grand Forks, the oldest child of Allen and Donna (McGrath) Leake. He grew up in Chester Township in Emerado, where he attended Chester 97 Elementary, Emerado Junior High School and in 1964 graduated from Larimore High School. He attended two years of school at UND before enlisting in the U.S. Army. Thomas served in the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion 39th Artillery Unit in Schweinfurt, Germany, as a Private First Class Specialist E-4, artillery operations and intelligence, from September 1967 to September 1969.

When he left the service, he moved to the Twin Cities and began his roofing career with John A. Dalsin Roofing Co. He excelled as a working foreman and journeyman roofer, a certified Minnesota VOTECH Roofing Instructor and a leader in the Roofers Union.

After moving back to North Dakota, Thomas farmed on the family farm, roofed for Greenberg Roofing and finally joined UND Facilities as a roofer. There, he roofed, worked in asbestos removal and helped the carpenters, plumbers and welders. He enjoyed going to work every day because of the friendships he gained. Thomas retired from the University of North Dakota after 20 years as the UND roofer.

He married Debra A. Gould on Aug. 15, 1970, in the Twin Cities. They raised three children, Shannon, Shawn and Kyle. On July 8, 1989, he married Diane M. Berndt in southern Minnesota. Together they raised their twins, Kelby and Kelsey, in Emerado.

Thomas had a lifelong “need for speed”, including rebuilding motorcycles, go-karts, race cars, tractors and classic cars. He began racing in his teens in Larimore, with go-karts. He built and raced stock cars in Cedar Lake, Wisc., and at the Grand Forks Speedway. He passed on his love of racing to his children, beginning with go-karts at the Emerado Speedway and through stock cars at the Grand Forks Speedway. He ended his racing career as he started, with go-karts, finishing in the Master Class category as points champion at the Grand Forks Go-Kart track at the age of 68.

After retiring, Thomas became an avid flower/vegetable gardener and metal artist, creating unique items from repurposed farm materials. His love of trees, bird watching, family and his dogs filled his daily life.

Thomas is survived by; his wife Diane, of 33 years; children Shannon (Don) Baugh of Fargo, Shawn (Julie) Leake of Grand Forks and Kyle, Kelby and Kelsey Leake of Emerado. Grandchildren Andrew Franks, Megan and Ian Baugh and Aidan and Reese Leake. Siblings Lonnie Leake, Laurene (Steve) Thorson, Todd (Sue) Leake, sister in law Linda (Gary) Peterson, six nephews and one niece.

Thomas was preceded in death by his parents, Allen and Donna.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family for a donation to the ALS Association in his name, or directly to