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Bradley J. Burgum

Bradley J. Burgum, 1974 Attorney, Community Servant, ND Beta of SAE House Corp.Treasurer

Those SAEs who were active in the chapter in the mid 1970s, either knew the stories personally or heard the legends about Brad, aka Silas, Burgum, when he was treasurer to the fraternity. Having read the novel Silas Marner by George Eliot in a literature class, someone gave Brad the nickname Silas which stuck. The comparison of Brad to Silas, who was a miserly, lonely person who found his enjoyment in counting the gold he had hoarded from his earnings, was neither accurate nor fair as a reflection of Brad the treasurer. Nevertheless his integrity, honesty and accounting prowess kept the chapter on a more-or-less fiscally sound footing. Later Brad's skills as a treasurer as well as his integrity and fiscal accountability made him a sought after member of many community organizations. Brad was born January 3, 1952 to Joseph and Katherine (Kilbourne) Burgum. He grew up in Arthur, ND where he spent summers working for the family agricultural business, learning the lessons of hard work, integrity and honesty that would serve him the rest of his life. He graduated from Dakota High School in 1970, enrolled at North Dakota State University (NDSU), and joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity where he was later elected treasurer. It may have been destined that Brad, along with his brother Doug, would be SAEs as their father was one of the charter members of the ND Beta Chapter in 1935. In 1974 Brad received his Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from NDSU. In 1977 he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of North Dakota where he served as business manager to The North Dakota Law Review. 


Having dated Julie Opp throughout college, they were married in 1976 in Streeter ND, and they made their home in Casselton, ND. In 1977 Brad joined the Woell Law Office in 1977 which later became the Burgum Law Firm. Thus, Brad began a long career as an attorney and CPA, and as a public servant. His devotion to public service began when he helped to create the Casselton Ambulance Service in 1978. Brad served as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for over thirty years, going on numerous ambulance runs, day or night, calmly helping neighbors and strangers in their medical crises. His dedication to community service and volunteerism also included founding the Central Cass Dollars for Scholars program and serving as Casselton City Attorney since 1978. Brad's reputation for honesty, integrity and reliability resulted in being invited to serve on the Casselton Business Association, the Casselton Job Development Authority, Cass County Township Officers Association, the Red River Valley Estate Planning Council, and the Pelican Lake Sailing School. 


Brad and Julie were promoters of Bison Athletics, but their support for their alma mater also extended to the arts at NDSU. Their interests in the arts also included the FM Symphony and the Plains Art Museum. His philanthropic support was extended to many community and regional charitable causes, and was characteristic of Brad's humility and modesty, his contributions were made anonymously​.  In addition to his accounting and legal practice, Brad had interests in the Arthur Companies on which he served as board member, vice president and secretary-treasurer. In 2007, Brad became a founding investor and member of the board of directors of Arthur Ventures. He also invested in and served on the board of directors for Great Plains Software from 1984 to 2001, guiding the company through its fledgling growth years, its successful four years as a public company, and its acquisition by Microsoft. Brad and Julie are parents to two sons, James, West Fargo, ND, a graduate of NDSU, and Ben, Chanhassen, MN, a graduate of the University of Minnesota. It was perhaps at their cabin on Pelican Lake that Brad most enjoyed spending his free time teaching his sons to sail and water ski, being the consummate host to his many friends by providing just the right wine and grilling ribs to perfection on the Big Green Egg. Brad's dedication as treasurer was exemplified by 30 years of meticulous financial records that Doug discovered when going through Brad's desk.


That he kept such good records should be of no surprise to those of us who knew Brad as Silas the Treasurer when we were undergraduate members. Every last check-off in the kitchen and every party favor was accounted for, and Brad called out delinquent brothers by name during chapter meetings for not paying their bills in a prompt manner. No one wanted to incur Brad's censure, so we took great pains to pay our bills on time. As Brad often said, and which has been repeated many times by successive advisors to the ND Beta (as well as ND Alpha) Chapter, Brotherhood begins when the bills are paid!”  If the comparison of Brad's frugality and diligence in keeping good financial records earned him the unfortunate nickname of Silas, perhaps Silas's redemption in the novel through the love of his child and by finding contentment among his family and friends is a more apt reflection of Brad Burgum. Brad passed away in February of 2010 and is being honored posthumously for more than 30 years of service to the community and the ND Beta SAE Chapter.

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