Leo Benjamin Orpen, the son of the late Elling and Hilda (Hove) Orpen, was born on Aug. 28, 1926, in Chicago, IL. At the age of 5, he moved with his family to Middle River and was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith. Leo graduated from the AC in Crookston in 1943. He worked on the Iron Range for several years, returning to the Middle River/Gatzke community in May, 1956. On Aug. 19, 1956, he was united in marriage to Nathalia Nordlund and they resided in Babbitt for a year before returning to our community. They raised cattle for awhile, but mainly sheep for many years until retirement in 2005. They moved into Middle River where they have since resided. They were long-time members of United Lutheran Church of Gatzke and most recently of First Lutheran Church of Middle River. Leo served on the ASC board for 12 years, the Gatzke and Middle River School Boards for 22 years, was on the church council and the County Extension Board. He passed away two days after entering Oakland Park Nursing Home in Thief River Falls, on Wed. afternoon, Sept. 5, 2018, at the age of 92 years and 8 days.
Leo is survived by children: Carol Chaffee, of Vanderbilt, MI and her children: Ann Chaffee, Mary Grantham and Matthew and Adam Chaffee; Lois (Milo) Ballingrud, Thief River Falls, and her children: Vanessa and Michelle Tieman; Glen Orpen of Middle River; and John (JoAnn) Orpen, of Ashby, MN, and their children: David, Benjamin and Laura; four great-grandchildren; his sister: Mary Ann Nihart, of Winona, MN; in addition to several nieces, nephews and other relatives.
He is preceded in death by his parents, one brother: Richard and son-in-law: Greg Chaffee.