Alton Vernald Hillesland, 95, Sidney, Montana

Funeral Services will be Friday, February 16, 2024, at 11:00 am at Pella Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana with Pastor Barb Haugerud officiating. A luncheon will follow the service for a time of fellowship and sharing. Visitation will be Thursday, February 15, 2024, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Fulkerson Stevenson Memorial Chapel in Sidney, Montana and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Pella Lutheran Church with a Celebration of Life service to follow, open to the public. Fulkerson Stevenson Funeral Home of Sidney, MT is assisting the family. Remembrances, condolences, and pictures may be shared with the family at

Alton Vernald Hillesland passed from this life on February 10, 2024, at his home surrounded by family.

He was born on July 2, 1928, to Ted and Lottie Hillesland in Calmar, Iowa and grew up on the family farm with three brothers: Dalos, Glenn, and Harvey. He married Harriet Ohnstad and they enjoyed 62 years of marriage. He later married long-time family friend Ruthann Knutson.

His 95 years were filled with the love of learning and his unwavering, steadfast faith in God. He earned his bachelor's degree from Luther College in Decorah, IA and Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He served as pastor in Spring Grove, MN; Willow City, ND; country churches around Parshall, ND; Mondovi, WI; Culbertson and Bainville, MT; Sidney, MT; and Watford City, ND.

Upon retirement as pastor, he was asked to be the building inspector for the city of Sidney and Richland County and served in that role until age 89. His desire to help others and love of medicine led him to become a certified EMT. He served in that role through age 85.

His list of hobbies continued to grow through the years. He taught himself to play the guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and most recently the piano. He also taught himself Norwegian rosemaling, oil painting, wood carving, sketching, wood turning, fine woodworking, and house building. He also authored daily devotions for Christ in Our Home.

He made space for his ever-growing wood shop in each of their homes. His woodworking skills included building a pull-behind camper complete with a kitchen on one side and wardrobe on the other side that was used for annual summer camping vacations. One of the biggest woodworking challenges Dad tackled in his shop was his History Clock. It was a project that took him just over 20 years. It is a testament to his drive and determination.

He was an active member in Kiwanis for many years. He met Monday through Friday for over thirty years with his Coffee Buddies ('the grandpas') and was always up for a game of Pinochle.

Philanthropy and giving back to the communities he lived in was something he felt very strongly about. As a result, he enjoyed supporting many different organizations in the communities where he lived, including serving as a founding member of the McKenzie County Heritage Park in Watford City.

Alton is survived by his wife, Ruthann; four children, Tom (Marie), Jeff (Sally), Chris (Billie), and Sana (Ken) Keller; five stepchildren, Chad (Brad) Knelson, Joe (Jeni) Knutson, Sandra (Mark) Fetting, Marty Knutson (Jenifer Grau), and Bethany (Erick) Spiegel; 23 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. Adding to the family, reconnecting with long-lost relatives, and discovering new family was a joy throughout his life. One of his greatest joys was spending time with all his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers, first wife, and grandson Jade.

If desired, memorials may be made in Alton's name to the Foundation for Community Care, Pella Lutheran Church, or Martha's Place in Sidney.


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