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Adryn “Ade” Sponberg, 84

Aug 20, 2021

Fargo, North Dakota – It is with sadness we announce the passing of our loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, Ade. He will be sadly missed for his kindness, loving and gentle ways and generosity. He had a way of softening the hard days and making good ones even brighter. His legacy will live on in the lives of those he touched.

Adryn Lowell Sponberg was born Aug. 4, 1936, in New Richland, the son of Herbert and Lucille Sponberg. He was baptized and confirmed his faith at Vista Lutheran Church, New Richland. He received his early education in the New Richland and Tucson, Arizona areas, and graduated from New Richland High School in 1954. He received his undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter in 1958, his Master’s Degree from Mankato State University, Mankato, in 1965, and his Doctorate Degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1968.

Ade was united in marriage to Donna Elvestrom on April 25, 1958. They located in St. James where Ade accepted his first teaching and coaching assignments. Two children, Steve and Kari Jo, were born to this union while living in St. James. The family moved to St. Peter in 1961 where Ade taught and coached at their alma mater, Gustavus Adolphus College. After receiving his Master’s Degree the family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1965 where he coached football and received his Doctorate in Athletic Administration at the University of Michigan. In 1968 the family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where Ade assumed duties as Chairman of the Physical Education Department and Athletic Director of Augustana College. In 1973 they relocated to Fargo, North Dakota where he served as Division Director of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Director of Athletics at North Dakota State University. In 1987 Ade and Donna moved to Madison, Wisconsin where he accepted the position of Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While there he also served on the NCAA Rules Committee. When Ade accepted the General Agent’s role for Lutheran Brotherhood in 1993, they moved to Mason City, Iowa.

Ade retired in 1998 and he and Donna moved to Tucson, Arizona, spending the summer months at their lake home close to Detroit Lakes. They moved back to Fargo in 2013 and enjoyed living close to family and friends.

Ade was gifted with many talents, always keeping things in perspective and maintaining a right balance. He was a man of stature and grace, admired for his intelligence, principles, dignity, discipline, and integrity. His leadership was always levelheaded and unhysterical.

Ade received many honors during his lifetime, among them two prestigious Gustavus Adolphus awards. He was inducted into the Gustavus Adolphus Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985 and was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Citation in Education in 1988. He served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Council during his tenure in athletics. He was inducted into North Dakota State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.

Being an enthusiastic sportsman, he was an interested spectator and spirited participant in many sporting events. Golf became a favorite hobby after his retirement. Ade loved the outdoors and enjoyed spending time at the family cottage he and son, Steve built. Ade’s greatest commitments were to his creator, his family and his friends… all of whom were witness to the dedication and love he shared and taught by example. He will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered by everyone who knew him.

Remembering him is easy; we do it every day. Missing him is heartache that will never go away. Comforting each other and grateful for having shared his life are his wife, Donna; son, Steve (Kellie); daughter, Kari Jo (Kevin) Hanson; grandchildren, Alison Hanson, Kaia (Craig) Ehrmantraut, Sierra (Justin) Speed, Braden Sponberg, Hayley Holcomb and Ben Holcomb; four great-grandchildren, Colbie, Lincoln, Audyn and Maddox; sister, Jana Lee Sponberg; brother-in-law, Don (Joyce) Elvestrom and many extended family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, parents-in-law, a brother and sister-in-law, a sister and brother-in-law.

A Celebration of Life honoring Ade was held Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at 11 a.m. at Messiah Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota. A Reception followed at the NDSU Alumni Center. The service was recorded through the Hanson-Runsvold website.