Cover photo for Joan Onstad's Obituary
1936 Joan 2023

Joan Onstad

March 30, 1936 — April 17, 2023

Joan Onstad, 87, Bismarck, passed away on April 17, 2023.

A joint memorial service along with her sister, Arta Leno, 67, Bismarck, passed away December 28, 2022, will be held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, June 3, at Eastgate Funeral Service, 2302 E. Divide Ave, Bismarck.

Interment will follow at the Burt Hope Cemetery.  

Joan Berlin Leno Onstad died April 17. 2023 while in hospice care at St. Gabriel's Community, Bismarck. Joan was born in Mott, ND, and after graduation from Hatton High School, married Elroy Onstad. As the wife of a career U.S. Marine, Joan raised four children in California and Virginia, always returning with her children to North Dakota when her husband was deployed overseas. All four of her children also served in the military, in four branches, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Navy. The family returned home to North Dakota for the final time in 1973, after her husband's retirement from military service, one of his last assignments being Crew Chief on Marine One, the Presidential Helicopter. 

Joan worked in a variety of jobs in Bismarck before being hired by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, retiring from that organization. Joan was a woman of many talents and interests. She was never one to let any grass grow under her feet, and often worked two jobs, one full time and one part time, along with caring for her children and keeping an immaculate house always. She was an accomplished musician and singer, performing with country bands and singing in the Bismarck Mandan Civic Chorus, Senior Singers and with several area church choirs. She danced with the Rockin' Cloggers, performing in nursing homes and other venues in the area. Joan loved history, and was very involved in Scout-era and fur trade era rendezvous, demonstrating life in North Dakota in the 1800's. Her particular skill was lacemaking, as a member of the Prairie Rose Lace Makers.  She reenacted with the Old Scouts Society and The Frontier Army of Dakota, and also demonstrated her skills at the State Fair in Minot for a number of years. She played the old-time instrument called a dulcimer and the guitar also. Joan excelled at shooting sports and was accomplished with both black powder and modern weaponry, as well as archery as a member of the Nishu Bowmen. She also learned to fly fish and got into tying her own flies. She loved to camp, fish and hunt with her longtime friend and partner, Ken.

Joan was immensely proud of her heritage, active in both the Germans From Russia Heritage Society and the Sons of Norway. She was also a full member of the Bismarck Elks Lodge and the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary. A patriotic American, Joan supported the Tunnels to Towers and Paralyzed Veterans associations.

Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Arthur and Clara (Bier Wagen) Leno; and sisters Bonnie Leno Chase, Carol Leno Althaus and Arta Leno.

She is survived by sister, Sylvia Leno Olson, Dickinson, ND; children, Anthony (Elaine), Johnstown, PA; Joel, Seguin, TX; Eric (Monaca), Lakewood Ranch, FL, and Henry, Bismarck. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and six step-great grandchildren and her long-time companion and love of her life, Kenneth Heier.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to Bismarck Mandan Civic Chorus or Tunnels to Towers Foundation in Joan's honor.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Onstad, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, June 3, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Eastgate Funeral & Cremation Service

2302 East Divide Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, June 3, 2023

Burt Hope Cemetery

Mott, ND 58646

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 731

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree