Larry Elvin Jodsaas, age 84, lost his battle with Alzheimer’s April 27, 2020 in the peacefulness of his Summit Hill home in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was born May 11, 1935 in Lisbon, ND to Elvin and Elizabeth Jodsaas. Larry is survived by his wife Lynda; his daughters Sherry (Brian) Dedolph, Blaine, Minnesota, and Kim (William) Polley, Marco Island, Florida; his son Rick Jodsaas, Globe, Arizona; and his stepson Adam (Erin) Newton, Deephaven, Minnesota; his grandchildren: Nick, Brandon & Alex Dedolph; Kirra & Chase Polley; LeRoy (Allison) White, Dylan (Hannah) and Javelin (Erica) Jodsaas; and Finn, August & Annika Newton; and his six siblings: Darline (Woody) Claus, Ray (Diane) Jodsaas, Lynn (Bridgett) Jodsaas, Melissa (Pat) Lee, Virginia Aanenson (Danny), and Keven (Janet) Wiederholt. Larry was preceded in death by infant brother Lloyd Eugene; his parents; and his stepfather, Virgil Wiederholt.
Larry’s life story was remarkable from the beginning. His family moved several times after he was born due to his parents’ work in road construction; he attended 27 different schools before they settled back in Lisbon when he entered seventh grade. Larry’s father died a short time later and he was mentored by his uncles, Robert and Reuben Jodsaas. Larry left high school at the time of his father’s death as well, at age 15, to help support his mother and their family. Larry acquired adaptive resistance and intuitiveness for work at an early age.
In 1954 at the age of 19, Larry enlisted in the US Navy as a submariner electrician’s mate while at the same time earning his GED. After serving in the Navy, Larry entered a 2-year pre-engineering program at the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton, where he also sang in the college choir. He then completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Dakota in 1962. That same year, Larry began his career at Control Data with an engineering position. During his 25 years there, he discovered he liked managing electrical engineers better than being one himself and became the Senior Vice President of Quality and Operations Effectiveness. In 1988 Larry became President and CEO of VTC, Inc., a subsidiary company of Control Data, and two years later, he purchased VTC from Control Data for $1 plus it’s added financial encumbrance. VTC (Value The Customer), a semiconductor manufacturing business, grew to capture 65% of the worldwide market share of the microchip industry under the direction of Jodsaas. In 2000, Larry sold the brand, sales and marketing portions of VTC, but kept the manufacturing portion and launched his own company – PolarFab – the only privately held semiconductor foundry in the United States.
Jodsaas retired in 2005, but his already established noble investments and lifework of generosity continued to change lives. In business, Larry dedicated himself to leading his employees “bull-headed and big-hearted”. He was known as a tenacious and fair CEO who inspired those he led in both work and fun. Larry set clear and direct expectations and rewarded his employees for performance. Attrition in his company was exceptionally low; during his time as owner of VTC, he gave away millions of dollars through profit sharing, calling it “giving the sleeves out of your vest.”
Larry wasn’t only a hero in the realm of science and technology, he also served as an affiliate on the Board of Directors for a myriad of organizations over the years, most of which he chaired and/or was president of at one time or another. These include: The University of St. Thomas Foundation; Normandale Community College Foundation; American Electronics Association; Alzheimer’s Association – National, Minnesota/North Dakota, and Minnesota Lakes Chapters; Minnesota High Technology Association; Paralon Technologies, Inc.; PeopleNet Communications Corporation; Norwest Bank; Centronics; Engineering Technologies Associates, Inc.; Progeny Venture Capital; University of Minnesota TTAC; and University of North Dakota School of Engineering Advisory. Larry was key advisor for two Presidents at Normandale Community College.
Larry has been honored with numerous awards through the years. His pivotal philanthropy and significant business innovation have contributed back to organizations and colleges in many ways. His monetary and educational contributions continue to transform the industry, aid students learning math and science, benefit his community roots, and create a pathway to opportunity in engineering through learning. Larry’s notable awards include: 1996 Minnesota High Technology Special Achievement Award; 2006 North Dakota Business Innovator of the Year; 2006 UND Center for Innovation Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductee; 2007 Normandale Community College Connection Award; 2008 Minnesota Science & Technology Hall of Fame Inductee; 2008 MN High Tech Association Tekne Award for Lifetime Achievement; and 2008 UND Alumni Association Sioux Award. School scholarships in Larry Jodsaas’s name are given annually at the University of St. Thomas and Hope Academy, and Larry has given sizable donations to The Works Museum and the Lisbon Opera House.
In 2003, Larry’s generous gift to Normandale Community College, as well as his work for their “Creating Futures…Changing Lives” major gift campaign opened the 43,000 square foot Jodsaas Science Center, a state-of-the-art science learning and teaching facility. In 2008, Larry’s generous gift to the UND College of Engineering & Mines opened the Jodsaas Center for Engineering Leadership and Entrepreneurship, a teaching and research building, and supports SEED (Society for Engineering and Entrepreneurial Development) which assists the development of student-lead ventures in business technology.
Alzheimer’s research was of the utmost importance to Larry. After he watched his grandmother and mother both pass away from Alzheimer’s, he became involved in the work and vision to someday cure the devastating disease. He is an Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Society Member and wrote a compelling business journal article on the cost of the disease and our aging nation. Larry was honored at the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum in Washington D.C. for his work in helping to create AIM (Alzheimer’s Impact Movement) which drives policymakers to invest in Alzheimer’s research, enhanced care for patients, and improved support for caregivers. Larry donated his brain to the Mayo Clinic for Alzheimer’s research.
Larry’s work passion was to pioneer and drive the unlimited profit potential in electrical engineering semiconductor advancement. A Star Tribune article over 20 years ago quotes Larry, “We’ve seen a tremendous change in the impact of technology on the economy. Just look at Amazon.com; they are restructuring how to deliver product to the market.”
Larry’s life passion was his vision of having unlimited potential in world-wide global boating adventures. A 2012 Yachts International article describes in detail Larry’s 102 ft. custom momentous exhibitioner, and quotes Larry, “I want to be able to go anywhere in the world, and to stay any length of time, in any port.” Memorials preferred to the Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/
Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service 651-228-1006