Lyle Edward Orstad

Lyle Edward Orstad, loving husband, cherished father, and generous grandfather passed away on September 6th, just shy of his 88th birthday in Hillsborough, NC.

Born at home in a farmhouse in Walsh County, North Dakota on September 16, 1931, Lyle was the only son of the late Hilda and Sivert Orstad and a brother to his older sisters, the late Avis Knaus, the late Elaine Zadro, and Donna Patchett. Lyle grew up on the North Dakota farm and loved to tell stories of his experiences being taught in a one-room schoolhouse, raising livestock and chickens, and riding the plow at his father’s side through the wheat fields. At age 12, his family moved to Everett, Washington, and Lyle graduated from Everett High School in 1949.

In 1955, Lyle met the love of his life, Rachel Mertens, a freshman at the Everett General Hospital School of Nursing. His beautiful tenor voice and skilled strumming on his Gibson guitar began a love story that lasted over sixty years. Lyle and Rachel were married in 1957, and their three children, Lisa, Roger and Richard were born during the next ten years while living in Everett. His grateful children remember their father as a gentle soul whose attention, kindness and devotion to them remained constant. Lyle’s love of music, regardless of the genre, was evident throughout his life, and he could sing them all: Norwegian folk songs, traditional hymns, crooner classics, broadway musical scores, fifties standards,and barbershop chorus tunes. He was a member of various barbershop groups for thirty years, singing with the Melody Men and the Coastal Chordsmen in Connecticut as well as with the General Assembly Barbershop Chorus in North Carolina. In addition, he entertained many grateful and surprised recipients with his popular Elderbari’s Barbershop Quartet Singing Valentines.

From prairie homestead to corporate headquarters, Lyle was a self-made man. He served in the Army during the Korean conflict, and with the GI Bill in hand, attended Everett Junior College and The University of Washington, graduating in 1959. Upon graduation, Lyle started in the mailroom at General Telephone & Electronics, and nearly thirty years later, with moves to North Carolina and Connecticut, achieved the title of Assistant Treasurer of the company in its Stamford headquarters in 1976. Lyle retired from GTE in 1986, eager to explore post-retirement opportunities in real estate, in both Bath, New Hampshire and in New Canaan, Connecticut.

A proud Scandinavian and devout Lutheran, Lyle’s love of hymns, storytelling, coffee, lefse, and all things Norwegian was notable. He lit up the room with his charismatic smile and love of life. He was a dedicated Duke fan in a house divided, savoring every NCAA college basketball game for years. He had a notorious sweet tooth, especially for cookies and ice cream. 

After retirement, he and his wife, Rachel traveled the world, exploring far-flung places like Tahiti, Dubai, Oppdal, and Barbados, as well as following his daughter and family’s international school postings on four continents. His adventurous spirit lives on in all of our hearts. 

Lyle’s family is forever grateful to those dedicated caregivers who ensured that his final years were filled with tender loving care - C.W. Boyette, who was by his side for three years, Trefor Studenberg, who added his skill and patience in Lyle’s last year, and wonderful hospice nurses in his final months. As it began, Lyle’s life ended at home, with his family by his side. 

Lyle is survived by his wife of 62 years, his three children and their spouses, and his seven grandchildren - Erika, Eddie, Michael, Margret, Lilly, Luke, and Lulu Margaret. A celebration of Lyle’s life will take place on October 12th at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chapel Hill. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to either Hospice of Alamance-Caswell County, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215 or to the Barbershop Harmony Foundation Society, 110 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37203.

A Celebration of Lyle's Life will take place on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chapel Hill.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to either Hospice of Alamance-Caswell County, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215,, or to the Barbershop Harmony Foundation Society, 110 7th Avenue N, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37203,

The Orstad family is under the care of Walker's Funeral Home of Hillsborough.