In memory: The community remembers Crist Langelett

Crist Langelett

A holder of many titles and roles, longtime Lillie Suburban Newspapers guest columnist Crist Langelett died July 21. He was 88 years old.

Langelett wrote twice-monthly columns called “Chaplain’s Corner” for Lillie News from 1976 until 2016, when he retired from some of his community-oriented duties. His story began long before he was a columnist.

Langelett was a chaplain, biology teacher, holder of multiple degrees, a Gideon, veteran, father, husband, volunteer, hockey coach, food shelf founder, Polar Arena manager and camp board member.

Those who knew him couldn’t help but notice his busy lifestyle.

“He was always going to a meeting or was on a schedule, and it didn’t seem to bother him. He liked that,” said Bev Wyse, who attended services with Langelett at North Haven Church since 1996. “He always had a next thing.”

Wyse was one of many at Langelett’s July 25 memorial service at North Haven, which was full of students, neighbors, coworkers, family and friends, who all had much to say about him.

“He was out there, up front. He would show up and he would be there for the families or whoever needed him in their time of need,” said North St. Paul Interim Fire Chief Jason Mallinger of Langelett’s days as a chaplain for the city police and fire departments.

Mallinger said Langelett had a pager for emergency calls and would respond directly to the scene. That type of response, Mallinger said, was uniquely proactive for a chaplain.

“It didn’t matter what the call was. He would respond,” Mallinger recalled. “I think that’s something that went above and beyond a typical chaplain’s duty.”

Ted Lillie, publisher of Lillie Suburban Newspapers, says Langelett helped shape the character of the community.

“His strong faith led him to be a spiritual standard bearer for families, individuals and first responders in their time of need in our community,” says Lillie. “Crist led with the example of his personal faith in a caring, loving way that transformed not just individuals, but the community as a whole.”

Early years

Langelett was born on a farm near Thief River Falls in 1931, his obituary says. He was the ninth child of 11 children. When he graduated from Pembina Trail School in the eighth grade, he worked full-time on the farm for four years.

When he was 14, Langelett became a born-again Christian, according to his obituary. After attending Oak Hills Bible College at 17, he joined the U.S. Army for two years and was discharged as a staff sergeant. 



To the Twin Cities

In 1952, Langelett moved to the Twin Cities and met his first wife, Joanne. He earned two bachelor’s degrees at Northwestern and Macalester while working nights. Some seven years after the move, Langelett started teaching biology at North High School, earning two master’s degrees by 1966. 

One of Langelett’s neighbors said she was a substitute teacher for his classroom at North High School — something she only did once in 15 years, because Langelett needed to attend a conference. She prefers not to be named to maintain privacy.

“He was a dedicated teacher and he just loved it,” she remembered. “I don’t think you will see anybody talk bad about him.”


Adding more to the plate

Langelett and Joanne had five children between 1954 and 1962. In addition to teaching, he also helped build and then manage Polar Arena for 24 years, while teaching hockey part-time. 

In 1980, he and Joanne helped found the North St. Paul Area Food Shelf, which is still in operation today.


Religious life

Langelett’s family hardly missed church, which they attended three times a week. His obituary says it was important to instill Christianity into his children’s lives from an early age, and Langelett himself was a member of Gideons International, the evangelical Christian association that distributes free Bibles, for 35 years. 

As for holidays, Langelett always read a biblical Christmas story before it was time to open gifts.

His neighbor said she didn’t feel he wore his religion on his sleeve, but that he did radiate Christianity. “He would always walk down to McDonald’s for a Bible study,” she said. “Just a nice guy.”

In the 1970s and 80s, Langelett and his friend Larry Erie built the Christian-focused Camp Dellwater in Shevlin, Minnesota, where he served on the board until 2008. The camp is still open today.

Marital life

After Joanne died in 1997, Langelett became good friends with Norma Nyborg from church, his obituary says. He asked his children how they felt about the two dating and they all agreed it would be good for him to not be alone, responding with a resounding “Yes!”

The two married in 1998 before traveling the country together and attending Gideons conferences. They served together as chaplains for North St. Paul’s fire and police departments. One year the two were grand marshals in the city’s parade. 

Langelett is survived by his wife, Norma; daughters Sheryl (Mark), Deanna, Beth and Patty (Jerry); many grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; brother Evert Langelett; sisters Eleanor Siltman and Margaret Dawson; and many nieces, nephews and friends. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, August and Clara Langelett; brothers, August, Harold, Alfred, Robert, David and Art Langelett; sisters, Mabel Lundquist and Lillia Asp; his first wife, Joanne; and son, Steven. 


–Amy Felegy can be reached at or 651-748-7815.

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