David Morris Saatoff, 52, of Brainerd, died on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. After being diagnosed in June, Dave created the “My Name is Dave” message. He was inspired to get the word out that no one is immune to cancer.
Dave was born on Aug. 30, 1960 in St. Louis Park, Minn., the first of 3 sons to Gene and Beverly Saatoff. The family lived in Belle Plaine and Delano before settling in Long Lake, Minn., where they resided for the remainder of Dave’s school-aged years. The Saatoff family lived in the city but spent most weekends in northern Minnesota where he became an avid fisherman and hunter and pursued his passion for the outdoors.
From early on, Dave had an amazing talent in music. He played the piano and was first chair trumpet through his high school senior year. Dave graduated from Orono High School in 1978. His favorite jobs during high school included working as a gas station attendant where he pumped gas for Prince, a cook at Perkin’s and at Red Owl Bakery. On a music scholarship, Dave attended Bemidji State University starting in the fall 1978. His sophomore year, he became first trumpet in the Jazz Band. Music was effortless for Dave – he had a natural and distinct talent. He loved jazz and big band music.
On Dec. 10, 1981, Dave enlisted in the United States Air Force. Patriotic and proud to be in the military, he received the Air Force Commendation Medal along with numerous other awards. Dave was a Staff Sargent when he received an Air Force Honorable Discharge in 1990. During his time in the military, Dave’s son, Joshua David, was born on January 13, 1985. They lived in Texas, Germany and eventually made their way back to Minnesota. In 1991, Dave joined the Minnesota National Guard and was Master Sargeant for the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth. Dave retired from the National Guard in 1998 as a member of the state staff.
In March of 1992, while on a drill weekend, Dave met a vibrant red head, Natalie Joy Smith. He was immediately smitten. Their long-distance romance blossomed, he was in Hibbing, and she was in White Bear Lake. They were united in marriage on March 13, 1993 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, Minn. They made their home in Wyoming, Minn., where they welcomed their daughter, Elizabeth Noel, on June 12, 1994. Dave worked for ESI Communications and Qwest and during this time received his four-year degree from St. Mary’s University.
In 2001, the Saatoff family moved to the Brainerd lakes area when Dave accepted a job with Integra Telecom. His career led him to US Link in Pequot Lakes and then, TDS Telecom in St. Cloud. He took a job with Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) in 2006 as a sales engineer, and was promoted to Product Engineer. He was respected and highly regarded by the people he worked with. Dave was grateful for his work family and loved his job. He was very proud to be a part of CTC.
Dave enjoyed his part-time job at Gander Mountain surrounded by all the outdoor things he loved and conversing with customers about their hunting tales. For many years he was also a volunteer gun safety instructor. Dave had the distinction of serving as the very first president of the Brainerd Chapter of Optimist International.
Dave was a gentle, kind soul who appreciated the down-to-earth joys of life. He loved God and dedicated countless hours as a confirmation small group leader and mentor at Lord of Life Church, Baxter. He impacted the lives of many youth at his church and they will forever be touched by his dedication.
Dave was a family man through and through. He adored his family. Dave and Natalie complimented each other perfectly and shared a close circle of friends. As a father, Dave enjoyed hunting, fishing and many Boundary Water canoe trips with Josh. He was a dedicated father to Elizabeth. He embraced her dance years and the friends they made through the Brainerd Warrior Dance Team. Dave never hesitated to participate in the Father-Daughter dances and was known to put it all out there. He was proud of his “toe-touch”.
Dave is survived by his wife, Natalie; son Joshua David Saatoff, Seattle; daughter Elizabeth Noel Saatoff, Brainerd; grandson Marcello Rae Saatoff, Seattle; parents Gene and Beverly Saatoff, Waubun, Minn.; brothers Todd (Merritt) Saatoff, Hibbing, Minn.; Russ (Irene) Saatoff, Prior Lake, Minn.; paternal grandmother Leona Saatoff, Waubun, Minn.; In-laws Richard and Vivian Smith, White Bear Lake, Minn., brothers-in-laws: Ryan Smith, North St. Paul, Minn.; Rodmen (Kim) Smith Centerville, Minn.; nieces and nephews – Dennis, Samantha, Kateryna, Kenley & Gracie: several aunts, uncles, cousins, and a large extended family. Dave is preceded in death by his grandparents Rint Saatoff, Evelyn Fisher, Donald Fisher, & uncle Dennis “Butch” Saatoff.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 6190 Fairview Road, Baxter. Following the funeral, burial service will be held at noon at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Ripley in the Administration & Committal Services Building. Visitation will be held at Lord of Life Lutheran Church from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with special remembrances of Dave to be shared at 7 p.m. Memorials are preferred. A scholarship will be established in Dave’s memory through the Brainerd Education Foundation for a student pursuing a music degree.