Cover photo for Joel Pfenning's Obituary
Joel Pfenning Profile Photo
1952 Joel 2023

Joel Pfenning

April 4, 1952 — March 12, 2023


Joel Pfenning, loving husband, brother, father, grandfather & friend, passed away unexpectedly at his home on March 12th, 2023, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

A celebration of Joel’s life will be held at 11:00 AM, Friday, March 17, at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck, with lunch to be served at the Bismarck Eagles, 313 N 26th St, Bismarck, immediately following.

Joel was born on April 4, 1952, to Henry and Rose Pfenning, beating his twin sister Joyce by only 20 minutes. He claims he grew up being taunted by sheep and mice on the family farm west of Hannover ND, finally moving to civilization (Bismarck) when he was seven years old. Once in Bismarck, he went to school at Saxvik, Simle, and graduated from Bismarck High School in 1971.

In 1972, Joel met his wife Lora at the Starlite Drive-In Theater. They were married later that same year and went on to have two daughters, Jennifer & Kimberly, and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past November.

He began working as a boom truck operator for Atlas Inc when he was 19 years old and continued to run the boom truck for Knife River Corporation until illness forced his retirement in 2016. Many co-workers enjoyed entertaining family & friends with stories of his abilities, such as picking up and moving pop cans without denting the aluminum.

In retirement, Joel was a handyman, he loved wood working and tinkering around his tool shed and was happy to lend out his tools, but only if you ‘put sh*t back where you found it’! Joel was always the first person to fire up his snow-blower after a winter storm and wouldn’t dare miss a week mowing the lawn in the summer. Bull-headed and stubborn, his grandkids will remember him refusing to ask for help even when he needed it. Whether he was climbing on roofs, crawling under cars, or pouring concrete he was happiest when he was being helpful.

Against all odds, Joel was winning a long battle with kidney cancer. His perseverance earned him the title of Superman!  He disliked being babied and his family was continuously amazed at his ability to stay positive throughout his many doctor visits, hospital stays and treatments.

Joel loved the outdoors spending lots of weekends camping and fishing with his brothers, sisters, and many nieces and nephews. He shared a unique connection with his twin sister, Joyce and his great-niece, Shandy. Joel had an amazing relationship with all his grandchildren and great grandchildren never missing an opportunity to do something silly to make them laugh or to spoil them when he could.

Joel is preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Rose (Aipperspach); sisters, Marlene (Patrick Sullivan) and Donna (Joseph Stein); brothers-in-law, Peter Hellman, Ray, Don, Ed, & Jerry Ereth; and sisters-in-law, Marlene (Jim Bergum), Vi (Vogel) Pfenning.

He is survived by his wife, Lora (Ereth); daughters, Jennifer (William Jr) Bianco, & Kimberly Pfenning; nearly adopted daughter, Shandy; grandchildren, Molly, Emily, Erick (Sarah), Kayshaun, Keyana & Eliejah; bonus grandchildren, William III, Elizabeth, Alexis, Nickolas (Ashley), Vincenzo (Hannah) & Michael; 12 great-grandchildren; brothers, Darold (Marlys), Jerome, Clyde (Cindy); sister, Joyce Hellman (Jerry Auch); brothers-in-law, Vern, Dennis (Vonnie), Gus (Sherry), Roy (Lori), Paul, Terry (Sandy) Ereth; and sisters-in-law, Linda (Ben Schafer), Margaret (Tim Schell).

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

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, March 17, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Parkway Funeral and Cremation Service

2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck, ND 58503


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