Cover photo for Randall Balken's Obituary
Randall Balken Profile Photo
1949 Randall 2022

Randall Balken

July 31, 1949 — May 14, 2022

Randall (Randy) Dale Allen Balken, 72, died at home on Saturday, May 14, 2022, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

Randy was born on July 31st, 1949, to Christeva (Taylor) and Albert “Leonard” Balken. Randy was the second of four children born and raised on a farm outside of Rothsay, Minnesota. It was on this farm that Randy developed a strong work ethic, a loyal dedication to family, and a true love and passion for the outdoors. Frequent fishing trips with cousins along with Rothsay “Swamp Buck” hunting began a lifelong passion for Randy and his extended family. Randy was baptized and confirmed at Hamar Lutheran Church in Rothsay. He graduated from Rothsay High School in 1967.

His strong work ethic grew throughout the years as he continued his education at the Fergus Falls Community College from 1967-1969. In the fall of 1968, he met his one true love, Polly, at a dance at the Armory in Fergus Falls. They were married on May 10th, 1969 at Hamar Lutheran Church. They recently celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary and enjoyed every single day spent together. Polly was the love of his life and the center of his world.

On November 9th, 1969, they welcomed their son, Matthew into the world. Shortly after, Randy followed in the footsteps of many family members and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He loved his time spent in Corpus Christi, Texas where he enjoyed serving our country and also meeting many lifelong friends. On September 27th, 1973, they welcomed their daughter, Heather into the world. It was shortly after this, they moved back to Fergus Falls to be closer to family. In 1980, Randy graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Moorhead State University and began his lifetime career in education.

After teaching for one year in Pierz, Minnesota, Randy spent the next 29 years teaching and coaching in his hometown. He spent many summers working for Carlsrud Construction. In 1983, Randy was named the head boys’ basketball coach where he went on to coach for 14 seasons. It was during this time that he was blessed with many talented athletes. Most memorable to Randy was his 20-0 season. He would often be caught telling his grandchildren that he was blessed to have coached 11 players that earned over 1000 high school career points. Along with coaching, his favorite memories of teaching were at the local Storefront, a student run and operated lumberyard. Then eventually becoming the construction trades instructor and helping the community grow through building 17 additional homes with students. His passion for teaching students never waned and he loved nothing more than bumping into former students throughout the years. He retired from Rothsay High School in 2010.

Randy’s greatest joy in life came from spending time with family. He started taking Matthew and Heather fishing from the time they were toddlers. Many family jokes have been made over the years about taking two small children out in snowstorms to fish for the elusive walleye. He exhausted his patience and waited until his kids were in elementary school before teaching them to shoot guns. The love of fishing and hunting was not only instilled in his children, but passed onto his grandchildren, whom he absolutely adored. Annual fishing trips to Canada became a favorite family destination and nothing made him prouder than seeing his grandchildren either in a boat or a deer stand. Randy was able to enjoy these and many other family activities, such as card and yard games and always had time for a story or two. Many of these stories included his time spent in South Dakota pheasant hunting, hunting moose in Canada with Heather, traveling to numerous European countries, and many islands in the Caribbean.

Randy was an accomplished handyman and carpenter. He loved to be busy with various projects and could always be found helping a neighbor. He and Polly loved spending time with their lake friends and always looked forward to pontoon gatherings and lake fun. They were the true pillar of the family and delighted in watching their grandchildren grow up. In January of this year, they were blessed with their first great-grandchild, Kase.

His family takes solace in the fact that he was welcomed home by his best friend and brother, Wesley Balken, his first cousin Gene, and his loving parents Leonard and Christeva Balken.

Randy is lovingly survived by his wife, Polly Balken; his children, Matthew (Brenda) Balken and Heather (Dan) Butler; those blessed to call him “Grandpa Randy”, Payton (Alex) Kelly, Mason Thimjon, Drew Balken, and Isaac Butler; great-grandchild, Kase Troy Kelly, and his siblings, Judy (Bob) Nowak, Tracy (Brian) Buchholz, Lora Balken, and Elaine Balken. Additional special family members, Nathan Butler family, Trina Smaaladen family, Cody Wise, Carly Thorson family, and numerous friends, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Visitation: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2022, at New Life Lutheran Church in Rothsay, MN, with prayer service at 6:30 p.m.
Memorial Service: 11:00 a.m. Friday, May 20, 2022, at New Life Lutheran Church in Rothsay
Clergy: Reverend Randy Whitehead
Interment: Hamar Cemetery, rural Rothsay, MN
Military Participation: Fergus Falls American Legion Post 30 and V.F.W. Post 612

Arrangements provided by Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls.
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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, May 19, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Prayer Service

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Starts at 6:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Memorial Service

Friday, May 20, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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