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Official Obituary of

DeLyle William Pankratz

November 11, 1945 ~ February 29, 2024 (age 78) 78 Years Old
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DeLyle Pankratz Obituary

DeLyle Pankratz, age 78, of Ely Lake, passed away on Thursday, February 29, 2024 at Essentia Health in Virginia, Minnesota.

 

DeLyle was born on November 11, 1945 in Mt. Lake, Minnesota to William and Althea (Lindstrom) Pankratz.

 

DeLyle grew up at his family farm in Mt. Lake, MN. After he graduated high school, he went on to attend Mankato State University. He earned his Masters degree in Geography. He married his high school sweetheart, Merlys Elaine Dougherty, on August 28, 1965, in Butterfield, MN. They made their home and started their family in Mankato, MN, as DeLyle worked at Mankato State University. Together they raised 3 individual, strong-willed daughters that they were very proud of.

 

In 1970, they moved to Mt. Iron, where the couple resided for 25 years. He began work as a college professor at Mesabi Community College, where he taught geography and math. He went on to work for Saint Louis County planning and zoning. His final part of his work career was when he was appointed and worked for IRRRB as a snowmobile trail Divisions Coordinator before retiring in 2006.
 

DeLyle enjoyed the outdoors, deer hunting in Crane Lake and Buyck. In the early years, he enjoyed family camping in the Thistledew area. He loved spending time at their cabin in Buyck, there was always a project to be done. He welcomed the opportunity to spend time with his grandchildren and great granddaughter sharing in many of their activities. DeLyle was a force of nature in his activities and memberships.
 

In 1974, he recognized the need for a groomed snowmobile trail. He pulled together nine area snowmobile clubs, formed a non profit corporation and commenced the 48 mile Grant-In-Aid (GIA) Trail System in northeastern MN. He served as a committee chair for the local trail association, Board of Directors of the International Snowmobile Association (ISA), MNUSA, ISHOF, and numerous other snowmobile related committees, including Range Trail Committee (RTC).

 

In 1977, DeLyle was appointed by Governor Rudy Perpich to the Governor's Advisory Trail Committee (GTAC).

 

DeLye was hired in 1984 by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) to develop a Winter Recreational Trails program to help diversify the economy of Minnesota's Iron Ranges. DeLyle was instrumental in re-establishing the Eveleth Trailhawks, connecting the GIA trail system from Duluth to and around Eveleth.

 

DeLyle has many accomplishments as a passionate leader in the snowmobile industry including being named as MN Snowmobiler of the year in 2020, inducted into Iron Dog Brigade and being named for 3 consecutive years in the American Snowmobiler magazine “Who’s Who List.”, and inducted into the ISA’s snowmobile Hall of Fame. In February 2023, DeLyle was honored by having two snowmobile trails dedicated in his name. He was able to accomplish all of this by having his supportive wife, Merlys, at his side through the years. In addition to being an avid snowmobiler, DeLyle is a member of the Messiah Lutheran Church in Mt Iron.

 

DeLyle was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Merlys Elaine (Dougherty) Pankratz; his parents, William and Althea (Lindstrom) Pankratz; father in law, Robert Dougherty and mother in law, Myrtle Dougherty; brother in law, Larry Kuehl; sister in law, Robbin Heller; and niece, McKenzie Kuehl.

 

DeLyle is survived by his 3 accomplished daughters, Natalie (Dave Leff) Pankratz-Leff, Nicole Pankratz (Steve Drenckhahn), Noël (Wade) Nivala; 6 grandchildren, Dustyn Leff, Paige Mortaloni, Dylan Leff, Tristin Nivala, Payton Nivala, and Sydney Nivala; 1 great-granddaughter Vivian Mortaloni-Ferguson; sisters, Glenice (Rick) Hoek, Lavonne Thomforde, Jean Eigen; numerous cousins; nieces & nephews; and many friends he met through the years on and off the snowmobile trails.

 

Visitation will be held Thursday, March 7, 2024 from 4-7pm, at Messiah Lutheran Church in Mt. Iron. Funeral Services will be held Friday, March 8, 2024 at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Mt. Iron at 11am, with visitation one hour prior. A luncheon will be served at the church following the service.

 

The family would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Good Samaritan that called 911, the First Responders, Erik Jankila, Eveleth & Virginia EMS who rendered aid, and Virginia Essentia Emergency Room staff.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of DeLyle William Pankratz, please visit our floral store.

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Services

Visitation
Thursday
March 7, 2024

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Messiah Lutheran Church - Mt. Iron
8590 Enterprise Dr S
Mountain Iron, MN 55768

Visitation
Friday
March 8, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Messiah Lutheran Church - Mt. Iron
8590 Enterprise Dr S
Mountain Iron, MN 55768

Memorial Service
Friday
March 8, 2024

11:00 AM
Messiah Lutheran Church - Mt. Iron
8590 Enterprise Dr S
Mountain Iron, MN 55768

Luncheon
Friday
March 8, 2024

Messiah Lutheran Church - Mt. Iron
8590 Enterprise Dr S
Mountain Iron, MN 55768

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