Craig James Caspers, 70, of Wahpeton, Dakota, passed away on Thursday, November 23, 2023, after a year-long battle with Uvular Metastatic Melanoma at his residence. There will be a visitation from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Wahpeton, ND. The prayer service will begin at 7 p.m. Craig’s Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at St. John’s Church, Wahpeton, ND. Burial will take place in Fairview Cemetery, Wahpeton, ND. Father Greg Haman will officiate. Arrangements have been entrusted to Vertin-Munson Funeral Home.
Craig James Caspers was born on April 20, 1953, the fourth of six sons to Robert and Bernice (Kohnke) Caspers. He grew up on 7th street, and in the 6th grade they moved to 4th Street North on the golf course. However, the most treasured neighbor was their grandparents who shared a driveway with the Caspers boys.
It was a great neighborhood with ball games going on always; the six and nine o’clock sirens were the only times the kids needed to know. When the family moved to a new house way up north on 4th Street in Wahpeton in the mid 1960’s, there was a large number of boys that would be a part of the Wahpeton Class of 1971. Every house had a basketball hoop, and the golf course were their football and baseball field. Winters were reserved for local games like knee ball outdoors, and comb hockey indoors.
Craig attended St. John’s Elementary School, and walking was mandatory. If he had to serve 7:30 a.m. mass, his 5’2”, 90-pound grandmother would accompany him.
Craig participated in sports, with football being his favorite. He quickly found out that in football, talent was secondary to hard work and determination. Upon high school graduation, he decided to attend NDSSS, an easy decision to make as his closest friends were attending NDSSS to also play football, and a double bonus was his girlfriend, Susan Berseth, was still attending Wahpeton High School. Thanks to bad luck, the starting defensive end for Science School was kicked out of school (for a reason not to be disclosed), so an opportunity arose for a freshman to play defensive end. The fall of 1971 was an exciting year for Science School football, playing on a new football field and stadium. Al Grage and his team tied for 1st place in the four-year football conference thanks to the leadership of the veterans getting out of the Army. 1972 was also a winning year for the Wildcats, the highlight of that year was tying the No. 1 Junior College team, Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Craig took time out from college, and it was during this time when Craig learned the value of having college in the community. Thanks to 7:30 a.m. classes at NDSSS he was able to retake some courses in business that he previously struggled in. After marrying his high school sweetheart, they moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he attended Northern State College. NDSSS had several administrators and teachers from the Aberdeen area who helped Craig through recommendations getting in-state tuition and obtaining part-time jobs while attending Northern State. After a year and a half of college at Northern State, with his wife Sue busy at work as a dental hygienist, Craig met and was impressed with the Northern State football coach, Jim Kretchman. Craig played the next year, having one of his most enjoyable years of football.
Upon graduation, Craig worked for a bank in Aberdeen, SD, until receiving a call from his father who was in poor health. Craig and Sue would then return to work in the family furniture store. Even though he enjoyed the retail business, another opportunity arose ten years later when Bun Munson, a long-time funeral director, was retiring. Upon many discussions with families who had furniture store funeral home relations, Craig decided to go back to college and obtain his degree in Mortuary Science from the University of Minnesota. Once again, Craig learned to appreciate the flexibility and understanding instructors at NDSSS. For the next six months, he was able to take a year of anatomy, chemistry, and microbiology class while working at the furniture store, and that allowed him to attend the U of M that fall. Craig completed his schooling at the U of M, and after a three-month practicum, he started his 30-year career in funeral service at Vertin-Munson Funeral Home in Wahpeton.
Craig was active in the Wahpeton community, serving in JC’s, Downtown Development Corporation, Community Development Corporation, Chamber of Commerce, and ND Retail Association. He was also involved in youth groups through the Optimist Club, Wahpeton Youth Football, and Girls’ Junior Olympic Volleyball.
Thanks to two former neighbors in his boyhood, Jim Sturdevant and Roger Worner, he was able to get oriented in North Dakota Higher Education. Jim started a community group to assist in discussions with a recommendation from the Board of Higher Education of possibly merging NDSCS under NDSU. Roger was hired to assist and give recommendations to the local group and guided the group discussions with Fargo leaders and NDSU Administrators. It was this experience that prompted Craig to submit his name to become a member of the State Board of Higher Education. Craig then served on the State Board of Education for five years.
Attempting to give back to Science School as much as he had received, Craig served on the Alumni Board, Letterman’s Club, Catbacker Club, and served time as an advisor in the Nursing Program.
Craig is survived by his two children, Christopher (Jamie) Caspers and Cassie Caspers Miller; grandchildren, Foster and Bauer Caspers, Halle, Jaeger, and Jameson Miller; and his brothers, who all attended NDSCS, Brian (Sharon), Joel (Audrey), Robert, and Richard (Julie).
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Susan; parents, Robert and Bernice; his brother, Wilbur (Connie), and sister-in-law, Sandy.
In lieu of flowers, donations are preferred to St. John’s Catholic School, 212 Dakota Ave. Wahpeton, ND 58075.