Lars Undheim Egeland [Photo courtesy of Spanish Valley Mortuary]

Lars Undheim Egeland was born on Sept. 1, 1927, to Anna Allestad and Segurd Egeland in Flekkfjord, Norway. He was the second oldest of eight children. There were five boys and three girls. It was not easy to clothe that many children and as a result each child had to learn to knit on a knitting machine.

Egeland remembered as a child waiting for a bus with children in the neighborhood and everyone was knitting socks because they would wear out so fast.

When Germany invaded Norway, the soldiers took all the livestock and food from the people living on small farms and then came back and took all the able-bodied men. Egeland was conscripted into the German Army from 1948 until 1951. He was sent to Germany and was a guard.

Tom, Egeland’s older brother, came to New York, and some of his mother’s relatives had migrated to Montana. He had seen the movies of the American West, and with relatives living in Big Timber, Montana, it was a perfect time to move from a poor, war-torn country to a life of excitement and adventure.

Egeland took the boat in 1952 to the U.S., even though his brother had moved back to Norway, and he spoke very little English. He caught a bus west following his suitcase from bus to bus because he did not know how to ask which bus he was supposed to be on when they changed stations. He spent 10 years working on three different ranches before he discovered mining paid a lot more money. He moved to Butte, Montana, and started to mine copper.

He became an American citizen while working on a ranch in 1959. There were very few days off for a cowboy. The cows were always calling for help and his uncle needed the cows to pay off the mortgage, but when a day off came, Egeland headed to town. After working on the ranch for a year, a day off was a treat.

He went to town so fast, he didn’t get enough water for a bath and the dance in town was not every successful. The girls did not like the perfume: cow. He never made that mistake again, and eventually met his first wife in Big Timber, Montana. They were married in 1963, and had two boys, Knute Keven Egeland and Roger Randall Egeland. It was about this time that money became important to support a family, and they moved to Butte.

After their divorce in 1967, Egeland heard about the uranium boom in the Southwest. New Mexico was one of the hottest spots, a place called Ambrosia Lake near Grants, New Mexico. Egeland was excited because he missed water, coming from Norway, and he had saved some money to buy a boat when he got there.

He was shocked to find out it had been a lake millions of years ago, and now a very lucrative mining district. It was here that he met Joe Gerstner and began to work for Boyles Brothers. When Boyles Bothers got a contract to drill a shaft at Rio Algom in Utah, he told Joe’s daughter, Karen, he would help move her trailer to Moab if she would marry him. This was in 1969, and they were together for 36 years. He worked for Rio Algom until 1988, when they started to close down the mine and flood the tunnels. Mining was still in his blood, so he went to Arizona to check out the gold mines west of Phoenix. He was there for three or four months, but found the working procedures unsafe and came back to Moab.

The Spring brothers were thinking about going to Elko to work in the open-pit gold mines. Egeland went along and eventually drove the super trucks for Barrick Gold. He was there for about 12 years. Working was important to Egeland, and when he retired from Barrick Gold he decided to work for the senior citizens as a cook’s helper. When he retired from there, he worked for Joe Kingsley in the laundromat and repairing houses. When this ended, he decided to apply for one of the jobs in the newspaper and Brenda, his sister-in-law, said, “It is time for you to really retire.” He bought his house in 2005 and changed a ruined building into a very attractive house and yard.

Egeland is survived by his sister, Astrid Carlsen, and a brother, John Egeland in Norway, and three sons: Joe Egeland, of Moab; Knute Keven Egeland of Billings, Montana; and Roger Randall Egeland, of California.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, Oct. 4, at 11 a.m. at Spanish Valley Mortuary. A viewing was held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 8 p.m., and one-hour prior to the service at the mortuary. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

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