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Golfer Matt Skarperud remembered by family and friends for love of sport and family

Matt Skarperud, 48, died on Tuesday, July 26, at Lake Bemidji State Park, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.

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From left; Brothers Tim, Chad and Matt Skarperud tee off on #3 at the Grand Forks Country Club Saturday during the North Dakota Golf Association state stroke play tournament in June 2020.
Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Matthew Skarperud, an avid golfer and Grand Forks native, will be remembered by family and friends for his love of family and golf. Skarperud, 48, died on Tuesday, July 26, at Lake Bemidji State Park, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.

He was in Bemidji for the Birchmont Golf Tournament, a tournament that his family frequented over the years.

“The family tradition of most of us being at the Birchmont Golf Tournament in Bemidji makes it a bit more comforting to know that he was doing what he loved,” said Matt’s brother Tim Skarperud, of Grand Forks.

Matt grew up in Grand Forks with his brothers Chad, Ryan and Tim. The four boys, raised by Craig and Brenda Skarperud, were all within six years of each other.

“We were pretty close growing up at the same time,” said Tim. “We were pretty competitive with each other, and most of the time in a good way, but Matt always loved to have fun and had a mischievous side to him.”

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Family was important to Matt, said Chad, and made sure his family members knew that. He talked with his two daughters every day and often checked in with his nephews and niece.

“He was a very loving, caring person that cared for a lot of people and always showed that support and love for everybody,” said Chad.

Matt lived with his wife Laura Skarperud in Hamburg, Iowa.

Matt loved sports, said his brothers, especially golf. He played golf on high school and college teams, and even professionally for a few years, competing in mini tours in Arizona and the Dakotas. He continued competing in amateur competitions throughout his life.

“The love of competing was what he was known for and what he loved to do,” said Tim.

Family friend Ron Van Raden of Grand Forks bonded with Matt on the golf course and grew close enough that he named one of his children after him - Adam Matthew Van Raden. Knowing all four of the Skarperud brothers and their competitive nature, Van Raden kept that fact between him, his wife and Matt, only telling the rest of the Skarperuds last week.

“It was kind of a secret that was kept up until Tuesday,” he said with a laugh. “Now they know, and they’ve already chided me a little bit.”

At the Birchmont Golf Tournament this year, Adam Van Raden wore a red ribbon on his hat in Matt’s honor.

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“He helped me a lot growing up with the game of golf. He did a lot for me in the recruiting process, when I was going through it,” Adam told the Bemidji Pioneer on Friday, July 29. “If it wasn’t for him, I honestly wouldn’t have gone anywhere I ended up going. He did a lot for me and taught me a lot.”

In any situation, said Ryan, Matt would find a way to have fun and enjoy it, whether it be a family gathering, social event or competition.

“He always had a light in his eye and a smile on his face, and was easily convinced to just enjoy whatever,” said Ryan. “He was the ideal person to have around because he was so much fun and so fun loving.”

Todd Schaefer, another family friend of the Skarperuds and head golf coach at UND, used to babysit the four Skarperud boys when they were children and watched them grow up.

Schaefer was a pallbearer at Matt’s father Craig’s funeral, and said a line in Craig’s eulogy, given by Bruce Tellmann, then owner of the Red Pepper, still sticks out to him. In the eulogy, Tellmann told Craig to “play through us today, we’ll catch up with you later in the clubhouse.”

“It stuck with me and pertains to Matt because he loved the game of golf and he loved competing,” said Schaefer. “He’s just playing through us all right now and you know, we’ll meet up later in the clubhouse.”

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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