Mark Bielen

 Mark Bielen, 61, of Sioux Falls, S.D., died Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, at Sanford USD Medical Center following a brief struggle with cancer.

Mark D. Bielen was born Oct. 31, 1953, to Ralph and Avona (Richert) Bielen in Springfield, Brown County, Minnesota. He grew up in Springfield, graduated from Springfield High School in 1971, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in 1976. 

On August 9, 1975, he married Catherine Feyder at St. Mary Catholic Church in Sioux Falls. Following their marriage, the couple lived in Sioux Falls where Mark worked for American Freight System, Dakota Truck Underwriters, Hemar Insurance Co. and ReliaMax Insurance Co. He was serving as the president and executive director of ReliaMax at the time of his death.

“God blessed him with a big beautiful mind and unbelievable business talents,” said his wife. “He was involved with the development and steering of three companies. ReliaMax’s beginning came from his stewardship of Hemar Ins Co, insurer of student loans. He partnered with Michael VanErdewyk in 2005 and they have spent the last 10 years growing ReliaMax. He was quiet, humble and a very kind person, a mentor to many; a man of few words, in the background patiently waiting for others to catch up. We were in awe of his creativity. His love of wood working, especially with walnut, began early. He helped his uncle build homes in Springfield. His shop was his special space; it was a place where he could build things from scratch; he did a lot of thinking there. He drew plans, built furniture and beautiful pieces of art. We would laugh that someday the Antiques Road Show would be looking at a Mark Bielen original and someone would have a treasure with a huge price tag. His latest pieces were for his grandchildren. For each of them, he made a dresser with compartments for their treasures. He spent countless hours thinking of them and working on the gifts.

“Mark was a carpenter and farmer at heart. He spent a substantial amount of time on his grandparents’ farm. He often spoke of time with his grandfather, riding the John Deere tractor, working in the barn and fixing things together. Family was very important to him and growing up there were many special times fishing with his grandparents or camping with his family. He loved the outdoors and trees. When our daughter was young we hiked the national parks. Our favorite was Glacier National. We had many adventures and memorable moments. We spent many vacations on Sanibel Island leaving footsteps in the sand at sunrise and sunset. Quiet time in nature restored our souls. His heart was always home in Minnesota. We honeymooned 40 years ago at Gunflint Lodge, 50 miles to nowhere from the shores of Lake Superior. Since then we have spent many falls days enjoying the Superior Hiking Trails and spending time in our loved Bluefin Bay Lodge on the shore, our ocean. We were there the week when he became very ill. He was diagnosed this past June and complications from his cancer treatment unexpectedly took him, he has gone to his eternal home.

 “On October 8, I lost the love of my life, my best friend and soul mate. We had our first date on Jan. 3, 1971, and we were married that same year on August 9. Before he died I thanked him for those wonderful 40 years, 9 months, 30 days, 15 hours and 34 minutes. I am so blessed to share those final moments with him. The happiest days of our life together were when we married and the birth of our daughter, Jennifer — true gift from God.  Mark and Jennifer’s love for one another is boundless. Jennifer’s marriage to Mike gave us a son and they celebrated 10 years of marriage on the day Mark passed. They blessed us with two grandchildren. They have been a complete joy for our family.

 “A real tribute to Mark’s life is to remember the virtues that his life exemplified, the things that we loved and admired about him. We will try to incorporate that virtue into our own lives. In this way, his absence becomes a blessing, and his presence remains in the world through us. Dear Lord, we thank You for the wonderful reunion that awaits this family in paradise.”

     Grateful for having shared his life are his wife, Catherine, of Sioux Falls, SD; one daughter, Jennifer (Michael) Roose of Stoughton, Wisc; two grandchildren, Christopher and Elizabeth Roose; his sisters, Deborah (Kurt) Jacobs of Cumberlnd, Wisc., Beth (Joe) Hilgendorf of Tomahawk, Wisc., and Lisa Luedtke of Hudson, Wisc.; and his mother, Avona Bielen of Springfield.

Mark was preceded in death by his father, Ralph.

     Mass of Christian Burial was held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Sioux Falls. 

Springfield Advance-Press

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