Ryan Thorpe remembered as leader in ethanol industry, giving person

Ryan Thorpe, 47, chief operating officer at Tharaldson Ethanol, died Thursday, July 7, 2022, at Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, according to his obituary from Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home in Fargo.

men wearing headsets standing at a table
Ryan Thorpe, chief operating officer for Tharaldson Ethanol, at the of Casselton, N.D., plant in 2020
Mikkel Pates / Agweek
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FARGO, N.D. — Ryan Thorpe, who led North Dakota’s largest ethanol plant and was respected in the bio-fuel industry, was remembered as a hard-working, giving and fun-loving person.

Thorpe, 47, of Fargo, died Thursday, July 7, at Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

Ryan Thorpe, chief operating officer for Tharaldson Ethanol of Casselton, N.D., shown at the plant in 2020.
Mikkel Pates / Agweek

Thorpe was the chief operating officer of Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota, the seventh largest ethanol producer in the country.

At a service for Thorpe on Tuesday, July 12, a statement from Ryan Carter, general manager at Tharaldson Ethanol, was read on behalf of employees there.

“He cared for all of us at the plant and went out of his way to make sure we were all taken care of,” the message read, also recalling Thorpe’s habit of wearing “funky jeans” and flip-flop sandals.


Among Thorpe’s leadership positions was serving on the North Dakota Ethanol Council. A statement from the North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association and North Dakota Ethanol Council said:

“Ryan was a well-respected leader in the ethanol industry. His knowledge and expertise were held in high regard, and his passion for what he did was always present. Ryan’s leadership role and contributions to both the ND Ethanol Producers Association and ND Ethanol Council were significant, and his absence will be felt. Ryan will be remembered for his dedication to the development and growth of the industry, and his presence within our organizations, industry, and state will be deeply missed.”

Thorpe was born May 12, 1975, and grew up on a farm at Oakes, North Dakota. He was a state champion wrestler in 1992 and part of a state championship wrestling team. He went on to wrestle at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he was an Academic All-American.

He also was known for his time spent as a wrestling coach. Oakes High School and Northern State University wrestlers served as honorary pallbearers.

Thorpe lived in Fargo with his wife, Jackie, and their children.

He was portrayed as a man who enjoyed entertaining at his lake home in Otter Tail County and liked to travel.

CASSELTON, N.D. -- Tharaldson Ethanol on April 5 quietly marked its 1 billionth gallon of fuel ethanol production. The Casselton, N.D., company also announced it will increase annual production this year, making it the sixth largest ethanol produ...

Rev. Michael Toomey of Hope Lutheran Church said Thorpe's death is difficult to take in part because it came by suicide.

“How he died breaks our hearts,” Toomey said, who also called for people who are hurting to reach out to others for help.


Part of the statement from Tharaldson employees read: “Because Thorpe was so focused on work, he rarely shared anything personal. We all wish we could have been there for him more than we were able to be.”

Reach Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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