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Dr. Jerome Bakke

Dr. Jerome Bakke

Jerome "Jerry" Eric Bakke, age 86, passed away on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at Rosewood on Broadway in Fargo, ND.

Jerry was born July 14, 1931 in Mapes, ND and attended Mayville State Teacher College where he met his future bride Beverly Carlson. When Jerry was young he spent his summers working on the farm for his aunt and uncle, Leonard and Ester Ophaug, to whom he gave full credit for teaching him about how to receive and give love. Jerry followed in their footsteps and became a man slow to anger; whose only trigger was observing people acting with disrespect towards others; a character trait he tried to instill in his children and grandchildren.

While attending Mayville State Teacher's College, Jerry's chemistry professor told him that he would be better served to transfer to NDSU, where he eventually earned a BS and MS. Jerry then enrolled in doctoral studies at the UND School of Medicine and earned a PhD in Biochemistry. He began his career with General Mills in Minneapolis but eventually became employed by the USDA as a researcher at the Biosciences Research Laboratory. We have asked two of Jerry's close friends and scientists to share their stories of Jerry's scientific history during the pinnacle of his career and his acumen as a teacher and mentor.

Ake Bergman - Professor Emeritus, Stockholm University, Sweden

"Jerry moved to Sweden in 1978 to work at Stockholm University, Department at Analytical Chemistry as a guest researcher. His first task was to write a review article on recent advances in analytical chemistry related to chromatography. During his first year at Stockholm University Jerry attended a dissertation event that changed his life and also for several scientists in Sweden at Stockholm University (SU) and at the Karolinska Institute (KI)

The work done in 1981 and 1982 lead to an article in the Journal Science (1982) describing the novel pathway leading to the sulfones, a pathway that included a metabolic step in the gut flora. The enzyme was identified as C-S-Lyase which is very, very low in mammals but not in some microorganisms in the gut flora. The cooperation continued with the Swedish scientists at KI and Jerry in Stockholm through 1982. His work led to in depth studies of the binding protein of the sulfones. Jerry then worked with Dr. Ingvar Brandt (Uppsala University) and looked into the binding of the sulfones to tissues, firsthand to lung cells. This work rendered several important publications and the finally renaming a protein to PCB Binding Protein.

Jerry kept contact with the Swedish scientists until retirement and novel questions were raised along this scientific path. It is important to say that what Jerry started in 1978 led to a lifelong collaboration between his successors at the Fargo USDA laboratory and with me. Jerry has been an extraordinarily important scientist, and person who built cooperation and new knowledge in the area of anthropogenic chemical metabolism. Throughout Jerry's scientific career he published approximately 100 original articles."

Per Erik Stromstedt - Director AstraZeneca, Gothenburg, Sweden

"It all started in 1978 in Stockholm...I was on my last year as a student and trainee to become a Research Technician. Part of the training included a few months placement in a basic research lab at the Karolinska Institute to work and support experimental work under the supervision of an experienced senior scientist. Jerry was a perfect mentor for me - he was engaging and encouraging at all times, even at times when things did not go so well. He is also the reason why I went on to enter graduate school to earn my PhD degree. Being from a non-academic environment, to have someone that believes in you meant a lot to me and I proudly dedicated my thesis to Jerry.

Less known about Jerry's own research is that he made a very novel observation that a class of xenobiotic metabolites accumulated in a particular cell type in the lung. This observation has been followed up by other researchers and the protein responsible for binding these metabolites has been identified and is now intensively studied to learn more about its function and as a potential drug target for treating respiratory diseases.

Looking back on that day in 1978 - Little did I know how my placement in a lab at Karolinska working together with an American guest scientist would influence and shape my future, but most importantly - it gave me a very special relationship with a fantastic mentor, father, scientist and a fantastic loving family."

For those of you outside of the scientific community, Jerry is better known for his artistic abilities as a builder and wood carver. For over 40 years he built and carved furniture for his home, family and friends and then eventually began selling carved wooden purses and Scandinavian trunks. Publicly one can see some of his greatest works in the First Lutheran Church chapel and in the sanctuary at Pontoppidan Lutheran, both in Fargo. While Jerry received the credit for the carving one must also acknowledge his wife Beverly for the painting of the cross.

In 1982 Jerry and Bev began designing and "physically" building their Scandinavian themed Minnesota lake home on East Silent Lake with the dream that someday it would be filled with laughter from friends and family. Before Jerry became ill with Alzheimer's he had completed the lake home, a whimsical playhouse for his grandchildren, and a separate garage with the capability of becoming an apartment for Bev. Starting in 2007 Jerry got his wish; with the first annual 4th of July party organized by his grandchildren. Now each summer (and winter) the house is filled with friends of the family, most of whom Jerry has never had the opportunity to meet in person, but who enjoy the home that he lovingly built for them.

The family has undergone a transformation with the loss of Jerry, but it would have been with much greater pain and sorrow if it had not been for the caring love he, and we, received from the staff and nurses at Rosewood on Broadway, and the ever diligent nurses at Hospice who ensured our father's transition from our world to the next was as pain free as possible - thank you.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Beverly, Fargo, ND; his daughters, Cherilyn (Bill) Sinner, Menahga, MN and Kirsten (Donn) Diederich, Fargo, ND; six grandchildren, Addie (James) Rothmann, Kayla (Brian) Ganzer, Aaron (Christine) Sinner, Beth (Jeff) Tabaka, Erik Bakke Diederich, and Anna Bakke Diederich; three great- grandchildren, Jacob and Isaac Rothman and Travers Tabaka; and two sisters, Laverne Aamold, Mayville, ND and Janet Opgrand, Crookston, MN.

Jerry was preceded in death by his father, John Bakke and mother, Cora Bakke; sister, Connie Elken and great-granddaughter, Hayden Sinner.

Memorials are preferred to the Alzheimer's Association or Hospice of the Red River Valley.

MEMORIAL SERVICE: 2 pm, Monday, August 28, 2017 at First Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND.

VISITATION: One hour prior to the service.

INTERMENT: Riverside Cemetery Mausoleum, Fargo, ND.

Condolences and memories can be shared at

Arrangements by Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home - Fargo, ND.