A memorial service for Paul J. Bridston, who served in the N.D. House of Representatives from Grand Forks in the 1970s after having served in the Kennedy and Nixon administrations, will be at 3 p.m., Saturday, August 3, 2013, at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji, Minn.
Paul Bridston died November 12, 2012, at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minn., surrounded by his family.
Paul Joseph Bridston was born May 28, 1928, at Deaconess Hospital in Grand Forks. He was a devoted student, graduating Valedictorian of Grand Forks Central High School in 1946. After high school, Paul enrolled at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.. In college, Paul was a member of the Torch Honor Society and the Scroll and Key secret society. He also sang in the Glee Club and was captain of the golf team. He graduated from Yale as a History Major with High Honors. After college, Paul obtained his MBA from Stanford Business School in Palo Alto, Calif., and subsequently served as an officer in the U.S Navy. While stationed in San Francisco, Paul met Margaret “Peggy” Cullen, a commercial artist from Tulsa, Okla., who was working as a Navy draftsperson. Paul and Peggy married soon thereafter and moved back to Paul’s hometown.
Upon his return to Grand Forks, Paul joined First Federal Savings & Loan Association, which had been founded by Paul’s father, Joseph Bridston. After Joe’s eventual passing, Paul succeeded him as Chairman and CEO. First Federal ultimately grew to become the largest financial institution in northeastern North Dakota. Also during this time, Paul took over as owner and President of the J B Bridston Co. insurance agency in Grand Forks.
Paul was civically active as well, serving in the North Dakota State House of Representatives, as President of the Grand Forks Rotary Club and President of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce. He also sang in the United Lutheran Church choir, was an active supporter of the YMCA and a donor to the University of North Dakota Hockey team, including the donation of the bronze UND hockey player statue.
Paul took two long leaves of absence from First Federal, first to serve in the Kennedy administration as an organizer of the Federal Housing Guarantees Program and later in the Nixon administration as Assistant Inspector General for foreign assistance in Latin America.
After First Federal merged with another financial institution in the late 1970’s, Paul and Peggy moved to Peggy’s hometown of Tulsa, OK, where they lived for many years. They also lived several years in Norman, Okla., where Paul in semi-retirement taught Strategic Management at the University of Oklahoma.
In his spare time, Paul enjoyed reading, singing, traveling with Peggy, spending leisure time with his family on Lake Bemidji and Big Bass Lake and playing golf. He was a member of the Grand Forks County Club (where he won multiple club championships, primarily at the original East Grand Forks location), the Bemidji Town & Country Club and the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. He particularly enjoyed entertaining friends and family at Augusta National and traveled there frequently over the years. Due to his history in golf, Paul was inducted into the North Dakota Golf Hall of Fame.
Paul had a great desire for knowledge and achievement, but also had a wonderful, dry sense of humor that will be missed. Paul was preceded in death by his wife, Peggy, his brother Keith Bridston and his sister JoAnne Hedlin. He is survived by his three children, Peter Bridston (Karen), Becky Pontarelli (Tim), Sara Mikkelson and his two grandchildren, Charlie and Anna Pontarelli.
Memorial donations may be directed to the Bridston - Hedlin Endowment for Business and Music at the University of North Dakota. Checks should be written out to the UND Foundation and mailed to 3501 University Ave, Stop 8157, Grand Forks, N.D. 58202 or on the website at http://www.undalumni.org.
July 29, 2013