Run with Randy!

Randy Berndt

August 9, 1962 - November 1, 2014

Donor, Minnesota

Randy was born on August 9, 1962 to Delwood and Vera. He spent a majority of his childhood years growing up on a farm outside of Breckenridge. He was a part of a Missouri Synod Lutheran family that had four boys and one girl, Randy being the youngest of the four boys. In 1972, Randy’s mother, Vera died of breast cancer after several years of fighting the disease. His dad was married to Shirley who joined the family in 1973. They continued to make their home on the Wilkin County farm. Randy and the boys helped around the farm with field work, chores and in the early years, helping to raise pigs. They enjoyed snowmobiling and many outdoors games of baseball, kickball, summers at the lake with skiing and tubing and hanging out with their friends and neighbors! In the teen years, Vagts Barn was a great hangout spot to meet friends and dance. The boys and Amy were all very good students and very smart, which paid off later for all of them!

Randy was the type that would arrive hours early for a concert to get a good place in line and then in the end hold the door open for many to go in front of him.

Randy was an honor student and took a special interest in the math/science area. He spent much of his spare time either reading or participating in sports. He played basketball, football and ran track. His senior year he went out for cross country where he qualified and ran at the Minnesota State High School Meet. He was a part of the state track team where he ran the hurdles and was on the relay team and participated on the state basketball team, where brother Steven says he was a “stand-out.”He graduated from Breckenridge High School in 1980 but had to miss his actual graduation ceremony as the track team was running at the state meet. He spent his summers working at Sigco Research which later became Mycogen Seeds, working in the fields with sunflowers.

In the fall of 1980, Randy attended North Dakota State College of Science where he studied pre-engineering. He graduated with an AA from NDSCS in 1982. After science school, he went to NDSU where he graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering Degree in March of 1985. Upon graduation, Randy looked at several job opportunities including the military officers program. He moved back to Breckenridge and started working full time at Sigco Research in the grower area until something opened up in his field of study. In the mid 80’s many manufacturing companies were downsizing and laying off their engineering staff, so finding an industrial engineering job was difficult. Any hiring being done in that field was typically engineers with previous experience that had been laid off.

In early spring of 1985, he met a girl Jana, through mutual friends at the bank where she worked. They officially hung out at Randy’s lake place on Pickerel Lake in June of 1985. Randy’s family showed up at the lake unexpectedly, so the party moved to the farm in Breckenridge. Jana and Randy ended up at the piano where Jana’s playing of “Come Sail Away” became a deal breaker! Sally Rudolph’s lessons for Randy paid off as Jana was equally impressed with his version of “Star of the East. The piano and music seemed to bring the two together. They attended a July 3rd party of friends and continued to flirt by playing footsie! Things moved slowly, especially slow for Jana, until August of 1985, when they officially started dating. A trip to Jana’s family lake home in Bemidji and trip down the Mississippi River sealed the deal as the start of an official relationship.

The first “I love you” came in August at Randy’s family lake place and by fall they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together so they started shopping for rings. On December 12, 1985, Randy popped the big question at Jana’s apartment on Wilkin Ave. She said “yes” and on June 21, 1986 they were married in Crookston MN at the First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Philip Weiler officiating. Reception was in Jana’s parent’s backyard followed by a dance at the Northland Lodge. They took a week long honeymoon to Florida and a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas’s, visiting the site where “Gilligan’s Island” was filmed. This later became the ballad that Randy would sing to his kids to get them to go to sleep at night! After their honeymoon, they made their home in Breckenridge, renting an apartment, townhouse and house until purchasing their first home in 1992. Randy was away on business, so Jana looked at the house and purchased it sight on scene. Randy came home on the weekend and approved the purchase. They lived in that home until August of 1999 where they moved one block away to a bigger home on Maple Street. They lived there until Randy’s death in November of 2014.

Two weeks prior to Randy’s collapse, the dream home for Randy and Jana came on the market which again was about a block away on Crescent Drive. They bought and sold a house all in a weekend with the expectation that they would move in March of 2015. At the time, this was disappointing because they wanted to move “NOW” but God had a better plan. Wait….you will need that time Jana to say goodbye to your home and get yourself stronger! Many evening walks included traveling by the new home where they would dream about plans to make this “their” home.

Randy and Jana had three children together starting with their first child, Tyler, born on February 13, 1989. Tyler, like his dad, was smart and ended up taking up running. Tyler and his dad were buddies growing up playing with cars, playing catch and later running together. Four years later, they had their daughter, Emily on April 6, 1993. Emily was daddy’s little girl and played the Princess part very well. They had a very special bond and shared the love of reading! Their last child was born on November 7, 1996, Matthew! Matthew was the child that benefited the most from Randy’s career change in 2002. They spent their summers at home together. Car hunting and dreaming was their special bond with numerous trips through the car lots in town! Randy was extremely proud of his children and his greatest moments were spent with his family!

As a family they enjoyed spending time together watching movies, biking, taking walks, going to the zoo and playing games. In the later years, he enjoyed attending concerts with Jana and sometimes the kids, seeing Garth Brooks in concert 4 times. Lady Antebellum was one of his favorite concerts at the Fargodome! They also had many family trips together including Fort Myers, Florida, Disneyworld, Bozeman, Montana where they enjoyed many downhill ski trips, Reno and Squaw Valley, Yellowstone, Colorado, Disneyland and Seaworld in California, San Francisco, Washington DC, Corpus Christi, TX, Las Vegas, Nashville and many trips to the Minnesota Lakes. Boating, tubing and skiing were all fun summer sports they liked to do as a family. The July 4th parade was a personal favorite of Randy’s especially the latest theme of “Love Boat” ice cream. They served 100’s of mini cones to boaters around the lake. Randy loved to serve others and this was a true example of what he loved to do. He loved to make people laugh and smile!

Golf was an aspiration for Randy. He enjoyed working at it but just really never had enough time to perfect it. He read about it, took lessons, talked to his father-in-law about it and certainly had the passion for it. He and Jana would play in the annual Wildcat Open each June and his father in law and him would play the annual Bremer Golf Tournament each summer. Jana and he talked about their retirement and golf was going to be a “retirement” thing when they had more time to improve their game.

Randy spent over 17 years working for an agri-business. In the spring of 2001, Mycogen sold its Breckenridge; family owned business to Monsanto and moved the plant operations to Olivia. Randy took the severance package and ended up taking a job with a local manufacturing plant. It was a family owned business that restored old war planes and also made wood spindles for older style homes. He worked there for several years but then began wondering if this is how he wanted to spend the remainder his career. He prayed and talked about it with Jana and his local Pastor. After much deliberation, he decided to go back to school to get his Math Education degree. His love for math, mentoring kids and spending his summer with his family drove this decision to make a change. He had spent the last 17 years working long hours in the spring, summer and fall so this change would be good for him and his family. He went to MSUM which took about 2 years to complete his teaching degree.

During his college stay, he started having issues with losing feeling on his left side. He ended up at the doctor where they found a large tumor on his brain. Jana was out of town on business but got a frightening call from Randy telling her to come home immediately. At first they thought it was cancerous but within a day, they have determined that most likely it was not and that it was a meningioma, a tumor on the lining of the brain. It most likely had been there for years, perhaps since birth. He had surgery several days later which lasted over 8 hours but all went well. He was off of school for about a month, but still ended up graduating with honors in the spring of 2002. God was very much a part of this entire experience. They felt God’s presence and love during the entire year and beyond.

Upon graduation from MSUM, he accepted his first teaching job with Discovery Middle School in Fargo, ND teaching 8th grade algebra. He had a great first year experience, meeting several wonderful mentors and friends. The next year, he took a job at Barnesville School where he taught 7th-8th Middle School math. He spent 5 years in Barnesville, commuting everyday 60 miles. He made many good friends and mentors in that school as well.

In 2005, he had another medical issue pop up which was a real scare for the family. It was July 3, 2005 and he was tubing behind the boat on Lake Le Homme Dieu in Alexandria MN. All of the sudden, Randy let go and did not respond when he hit the water. Emily, 10 at the time, jumped into the water to save him. It turned out he had a grand mal seizure from the lack of taking his anti-seizure medicine. It was a scary few hours, but he was home on July 4th and all was well. He had gotten a little sloppy with taking his anti-seizure medicine after the brain surgery and his body had a seizure. Once he went back on his medicine consistently, he was fine. He lost his driving privileges for about six months so ended up commuting with another teacher for the remainder of the year. God was once again faithful to Randy and his family!

In 2007, Randy received a call from the High School Math teacher in Breckenridge saying there was an opening for High School Math. The idea of teaching in his “home” school was very exciting for Randy so he accepted the job where he would be teaching Geometry and Algebra to 9th-10th graders. His first hour class, in a new (old) school, in the front row, he had his daughter Emily for geometry. It was a great year! Having a teacher in the house had a lot of fringe benefits for the kids and Jana. He taught in the high school for one year and then the school had to make some financial cuts. Being the teacher with least seniority, he ended up getting one class period cut and moved to the middle school where he taught 7-8 math. By the next year, he was full time again but stayed in the Middle School where he taught until his death in November of 2014.

In addition to teaching math, he also coached the high school and middle school cross country teams, junior high track and middle school knowledge bowl. His greatest past time was spent reading running books & magazines, attending workshops about running, watching running on TV or past Olympics, including many VHS tapes from previous games and reading the internet on ways to improve his runners. He had several kids qualify for the state meet during his tenure and loved seeing the kids develop into great people! In addition to coaching, he enjoyed running himself. His greatest satisfaction was the year his son, Tyler, qualified and ran at the Minnesota State High School Cross Country meet. No one from BHS has run at the state meet since 1979 when Randy himself was a runner. He thoroughly enjoyed following his kids sports, especially the cross country and track years. Randy also ran the summer Hershey Track program for kids ages 8-12. Many years kids qualified to run at the state level and once year he had a student qualify to run at Hershey Pennsylvania. Later on, he especially proud of the day he ran the half marathon in Fargo with Tyler. His last earthly coaching was with wife, Jana, who he helped start a faithful walking/running program to get her and him in better shape. God was once again preparing this family for was to come in November.

Randy was an avid reader, enjoying Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, John Grisham and many other similar type authors. He was known for reading and re-reading many of his favorite novels. He also enjoyed reading sports illustrated and consumer reports. When he started researching Jana’s shoes, she had to drawn a line! He loved old westerns, any war movie and the history channel. In addition, Randy was a strong supporter of the Republican Party and took a special interest in following that front. He often was frustrated being in the teaching profession where a majority of his colleagues were on the opposite side of the political fence.

He was a kind and loving husband and best friend for over 28 years to Jana, proud father to Tyler, Emily, Matthew and father in law to Mitchell. He was especially proud of the day that Mitchell asked him to be a part of the “proposal” to Emily. Mitchell had requested permission to date his daughter and later called to ask permission to marry her. In March of 2014, Mitchell surprised Emily with a ring on Sanibel Island, Florida, her favorite beach ever! Randy and Jana were a part of the surprise and Randy placed the “ring” on the sand castle for Emily to find. A very proud moment for a father and his daughter! Even though he was not be able to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, she very much had the permission and approval of her marriage to Mitchell.

He was the loving son to Delwood and Vera, step son to Shirley, and son-in-law to Gene and Marilyn. He was a little brother to Gary, Steve, Keith and big brother to Amy. He was a faithful brother in law to Darlene, Rick, Mike & Betty, Todd & Barb, Kathy & Jim. He was a blessed godparent to Katie, Annie & Adam. He was a fun uncle to 8 nephews, 8 nieces. He was dedicated pet owner to Max, his dog and Cassie, his cat. He was a patient teacher, compassionate coach, awesome mentor, kind and witty friend to many and a faithful member of the United Methodist Church.

Randy was a child of God with strong but quiet faith. He was confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in 1974 and continued his religious learning by reading his bible faithfully and attended church regularly. He read book after book to gain more knowledge and insight of God’s kingdom. He loved being challenged by God to better understand and grow in his faith. He was the High School Sunday School teacher for many years and participated in the church choir and annual Choir Cantata, singing in the tenor section. Jana was extremely proud of his involvement in the music program, because it brought them together in God’s house! He served as the church’s chair for the trustees for several years and served on the church council for many years. Randy led his family with his strong attributes of faith, integrity, honesty, hard work, dry sense of humor, kindness, love, patience and excellent an example of what Jesus would do. His faith never faltered regardless of the trials and tribulations that he faced in his 52 years on earth. Randy was not the type to boast about his faith but rather he lived it.

Randy loved to spend time with his family, friends and typically this would involve a nice beer or wine and food. He was a connoisseur of dark or “weird” beer and always made the cook feel good because he rarely said no to “more” food. The weekend prior to his collapse, friends were over to enjoy some of that good food and beverage, a fitting way to spend his last weekend on earth.

On Sunday, October 25, Randy left the house about 7:15 a.m. without saying a word to Jana. He went for a run with his dog, Max which was not real strange, but in the last few months he had spent most of his exercise time with his wife and son Matthew. At 8:06 he collapsed on the side of the road from what turned out to be a heart attack. He had a widowmaker heart attack and was out for over 30 minutes. They revived him at St. Francis Hospital and then airlifted him to Sanford Hospital in Fargo ND. They put two stents in and repaired the heart. The loss of air to his brain caused life changing brain damage. They put him in a medically induced coma for several days hoping to see the brain repair itself. Tests were conclusive, he had suffered too much damage along with several strokes so 6 days later, with his wife, children and family at his side, Randy passed away in the operating room at Sanford. He was a donor through the Life Source Organization where he donated his liver, 2 kidneys, corneas, lung, skin, bones and tissue. They also were able to send his heart to a research center. Randy had chosen to be donor on his driver’s license, but before the family knew that, they had also decided that it seems like the thing Randy would want them to do. Give someone else a chance to have a better life, a healthier world! It was a very selfless act but one that was so fitting to Randy and his personality.

Randy was the type that would arrive hours early for a concert to get a good place in line and then in the end hold the door open for many to go in front of him. He was thoughtful and giving and very concerned for others, at all times. He was often teased about his inability to make a decision like when he had to pick out a greeting card for Jana. She always received three. One serious card, one funny card and one just because! He was teased that he couldn’t decide but he said it’s because he cared so much, he wanted to make sure she knew it.

A service of remembrance was held at the Breckenridge Middle School on November 5th where over 1,000 people attended the prayer service. The funeral was held in Thursday at the school as well with another 1,000 in attendance. A true testament to the wonderful life Randy lived and the many lives that he impacted with his profession, his friendship, his kindness and his faith! The family started a “Run with Randy” movement to keep Randy’s memory alive and is raising funds to build an indoor running track in Breckenridge. Over 1,000 tshirts with the “Run with Randy” logo and 100’s of blessing bracelets have been sold to date and more each and every day. A Facebook page was started “Run with Randy” and has over 1,400 likes on the page. In addition, a blog has been started in It’s updated typically a couple of times a month. There have been 25,000 views on and Twitter has been tweeting about #runwithrandy as well as Instagram. It’s the mission of the family to keep his memory alive as long as they can! In the spring, they awarded the first “Run with Randy” 8th grade award presented to an 8th grader that had displayed many of attributes of Randy. Congratulations Nolan!

In addition to the walking track, it is a goal of the family to someday, meet and get to know the many recipients that Randy was able to help preserve or return to a healthier life. Over 62 lives were directly impacted by Randy’s donation and the families touched by this generous gift are even larger. The family is hopeful that a meeting will take place, when the time is right! Until then, they continue to pray with our “Club 8:06” and ask God to continue to protect, love and guide them each step of the way! They ask for your prayers and thoughts as they continue to travel this path called life in hopes of living each day closer to what God has intended for you and them!

Forever love you!