Cover photo for Francisco Tello's Obituary
Francisco Tello Profile Photo

Francisco Tello


Francisco Tello passed peacefully in his sleep, Monday, September 18, 2023, in Chitre, Panama.

Visitation will be held at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck, Thursday October 19, 6:00-8:00 PM. A celebration of Life will be 1:00 on Friday, October 20, 2023, at First Baptist Church, 306 E. Divide Ave, Bismarck. Burial will be at Fairview Cemetery.

He was born December 4, 1919, to José Francisco Sr. and Rosario Saavedra Tello. He grew up in the town of Santa Maria and spent much of his childhood riding horses and helping on his family’s cattle ranch.

Francisco planned to attend college in France, but World War II changed his direction. In 1943, he came to the United States to attend Central College in Pella, Iowa. He was one of the first foreign students to be accepted to the college. It was there that he met and fell in love with Bertha Ann Reynen. They were married January 30, 1945. With Bertha helping him to learn English, he earned his B.S in Microbiology. He then attended the University of Minnesota where he earned his Master’s degree in Tropical Disease.

In 1954, he and Bertha moved their family to Bismarck, N.D. He worked at St. Alexius Hospital as the Director of the Laboratory. He was then employed by Missouri Valley Clinic, (later to become Mid Dakota Clinic) as the Director of Laboratory Services. He also taught Spanish classes at St. Mary’s High School.

Francisco and Bertha were active members of the First Baptist Church in Bismarck where Francisco taught Sunday school and served as Superintendent and Trustee. He also served as President of the North Dakota State Society of Medical Technology. Francisco served for many years as Honorary Consul to Guatemala. In 1991 he retired and found enjoyment in reading, gardening, family activities and travels with his wife.

On April 18, 1961, he fulfilled his desire to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. He taught and lived by example: set goals,” work hard, play hard,” and give of your best ability in your chosen career. He believed in giving back to the community. He was a gifted storyteller and was always the life of the party! His greatest joy in life was his family. Following the death of his beloved wife Bertha, he wanted to return to his home in Panama .

He is survived by his10 children: Judy (Paul), Bob (Becky), Rick (Vicki), Ron (Joyce), Kathy (Todd), Chico (Nataliya), Tony (Jan), John, Tim (Julie), Mike (Carol) and his foster daughter, Carmen Rodriquez, as well as 22 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 11 great great grandchildren.

Our family is forever grateful to his Panamanian caretaker, Evelina, and her family for their kindness and compassion. Francisco lived an abundant life filled with amazing accomplishments, friends and family.

He was the Patriarch of a large Tello family both in Panama and the United States. He was our “Papa”.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials may be given thru the Bismarck State College Foundation to the Francisco and Bertha Tello Scholarship fund for Medical Laboratory Technician.

To order memorial trees in memory of Francisco Tello, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, October 19, 2023

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Parkway Funeral and Cremation Service

2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck, ND 58503

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Celebration of Life

Friday, October 20, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)


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