University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Remembering Brent Gerhardt

Brent William Gerhardt of Grand Forks, N.D. (and originally Mandan, N.D.), former staff member in the Department of Social Work, passed away at the age of 47 at Altru Hospital on Feb. 4, 2024, with his parents, Pat and Ed Gerhardt, at his side. Brent’s passing leaves a void in his family that will never be filled.

Brent was born on Nov. 30, 1976, in Bismarck, N.D., and graduated from Mandan High School in 1995. Throughout junior high and high school, Brent spent summers working at the concession stand for the Mandan Men’s Softball Association, where he developed a strong work ethic, sense of responsibility, and customer service skills. Brent completed an associate degree at Bismarck State College in 1997, and in 2000 he graduated from the University of North Dakota with two degrees, one in History and the other in Secondary Education.

Brent loved UND and he treasured the years he worked there and his many UND friends and colleagues. Whether it was working for Housing, Student Financial Aid, Admissions, or the Social Work Department, Brent took pride in serving students, faculty, staff, and visitors to the very best of his abilities. Brent especially enjoyed being involved with the UND Staff Senate and volunteering for numerous UND commencement ceremonies.

As the youngest in his family, Brent took frequent (and understandable) advantage of his status as the “baby” of the family and the loving indulgences his family provided. He was a fierce supporter of his siblings and nephews and enjoyed attending their activities – he took great pride in their successes. He enjoyed family vacations – especially trips with his nephews and camping in several national parks with his brother. Some of his fondest memories were of 4th of July family barbeques at Kevin and Donna Fishbeck’s house in Mandan, highlighted by dodgeball competitions and huge fireworks displays.

Brent was known for his kindness and gentle disposition as he was often the first to assist others in need. He loved animals and was especially fond of his nephews’ dog, Sheldon, whom he walked and spent time with whenever possible. He took great pleasure in simple things like a comfortable blanket, an ice-cold glass of milk, and a homemade treat, especially his Grandma Boehm’s Scotcharoos and his Aunt Ceacilia’s spritz cookies. Brent enjoyed movies, history, trivia competitions, bike rides, and current events, especially politics.

Brent’s life was marked with multiple health issues, including ulcerative colitis and liver disease that led to a liver transplant in 2020. Over time, chronic illnesses and physical limitations made it impossible for Brent to work, and seemingly simple tasks became difficult for him to navigate. Brent faced his health challenges, physical pain, and impending death with as much courage, strength, and humor as his weakened body could muster. He was brave and good-humored until the very end.

Brent will forever be missed by those who survive him, including: parents Ed and Pat (Boehm) Gerhardt, sister Cassie Gerhardt, brother-in-law Brad Parrish, and nephews Jack Parrish and Alex Parrish of Grand Forks; brother Eric Gerhardt and nephew Bennett of San Diego, CA; bonus sister/family friend Kari Knudson of Bismarck, ND; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, extended family members, and his childhood dog, Max, whose death he still marked every year.

A Celebration of Life will be held in Mandan, N.D., at a summer date to be determined.

In lieu of flowers, Brent’s family requests that memorials be made in his memory to the UND Alumni Association and Foundation’s Angel Fund, which helps students overcome barriers to their success that result from unanticipated financial hardships.