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Obituary: Charles Severn

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After valiantly battling a number of health challenges, Charles Burton Severn passed away to join his beloved wife on March 11, 2022. Chuck was born on April 11, 1939, in Breckenridge, Minnesota to Kenneth and Doris Severn. He spent his childhood years in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, actively engaged in many sports, and graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1957. From there he attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota for three years where he was the quarterback of the varsity football team, wrestled and played tennis, before graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1961.

After graduating from college Chuck spent three years in the Virgin Islands studying dolphin behavior and communication with Dr. John Lilly, and assisted in training the first Flipper. After this adventure he decided to attend graduate school, and unsure of whether he wanted to study animal or human anatomy, he tossed a coin. He attended the University of Michigan where he received his Masters of Science in 1966 and graduated with his PhD in 1968 in human anatomy & physiology.

In 1967 Chuck married Eran May Dague whom he met at the University of Michigan, and after they both graduated they moved to Omaha, Nebraska where he taught anatomy and pathology at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine for eight years before deciding to pursue his medical degree. While enrolled in medical school he was also an associate professor of pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. He received his M.D. in 1976 and completed his residencies in pediatrics and neonatology in 1979. Later that year Chuck and Eran and their three daughters moved to Bismarck, North Dakota where Chuck practiced neonatology as medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the next 22 years until he retired from medicine in 2001.

Chuck pursued other endeavors during this time such as obtaining his private pilot’s license and building the family guest ranch in the mountains of Montana where he was happiest and where his heart resided. He never tired of the views, the mountains or of life in Montana.

After retiring in 2001, Chuck ultimately failed to retire. He helped build the cabins at Mountain Meadows Guest Ranch. He was a breakfast chef at the ranch until 2005, often assisting as a bartender, housekeeper, driver or wherever he was needed. He then cooked breakfasts at the Big EZ Lodge, worked as a wrangler at Jake’s Horses, was a taxi driver and conducted tours into Yellowstone National Park for Alpine Property Management, sorted mail at the Big Sky Post Office, and assisted with serving breakfast at Buck’s T-4. He also did the plowing for his own house and surrounding area.

In addition to his intense love of the mountains, wild animals and his land, Chuck enjoyed cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, hiking, golfing, tennis, horseback riding on his horse Red, and reading. He was a fierce competitor in cards, and spent many hours playing family games of cribbage and hearts. He also enjoyed baking in his later years, and was a master of angel food cakes. He was particularly passionate about Yellowstone National Park, and greatly enjoyed his days as a tour guide. He especially adored his family and his dogs. He was not much of a traveler, although he enjoyed the beach, preferring instead to remain in the mountains he adored.

Chuck will forever be remembered for his huge heart, thoughtfulness, extreme generosity and perpetual smile. There was not a more loving, kind or humble man. As a doctor he was beloved for his caring nature and compassion. Chuck embraced life wholeheartedly and lived his life on his own terms. So too did he die on his own terms. There was not a better father, husband or friend. He was truly one of a kind and will never be forgotten.

Chuck is preceded in death by his father and mother, and wife Eran of 50 years. He is survived by his sister Mary; brother John; daughters Elizabeth (Johan), Katie (Scott) and Meg (Chris); grandchildren Annika, Rylie, Luke, Sydney and Olivia; his dog Chloe; cat Clancy, as well as one llama, one alpaca and one mini donkey.

A private celebration of life will be held this summer. In memoriam, donations can be made in Chuck’s name to Yellowstone Forever or St. Jude’s Hospital.

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