Weather Forecast


Prominent engineer, Dennis Borgwarth remembered at memorial service

Friends, family and teachers of Dennis W. Borgwarth, a Brainerd High School graduate who went on to become an engineer in the military-industrial complex, remembered him Saturday in a memorial service in Chalberg Theatre at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

Borgwarth, 52, of Andover, died unexpectedly on Jan. 25.

Evelyn Matthies, a retired Brainerd High School art teacher, said she remembered Borgwarth as a highly intelligent and innovative art student who “was always curious and searching for answers.”

The young man, she said, stood out among the 8,000 or so students she taught in her career because he was always at the top of his class and because of his pleasant personality and humble spirit.

A longtime friend, Dave Torkelson, recalled meeting Borgwarth on Bus 56, which took them to school, and later hanging out with him at the Nisswa Rollerarena. Their friendship continued as Borgwarth became godfather to Torkelson’s son and someone who was there to help when his son’s car need repairs.

Borgwarth, the son of Hanspeter and Gisela Borgwarth, moved to the Brainerd area with his family in 1964. He graduated Brainerd High School, Brainerd Community College and the University of North Dakota-Grand Forks. He was employed for the past 28 years as a senior staff engineer at British Aeronautical Engineering, formally known as United Defense. He demonstrated his entrepreneurial skills with Hot Metal Enterprises, a firm dealing with extreme metal fabrication. In his leisure time he built street rods, custom motorcycles, aviation sheet metal and restoration parts.

Torkelson said this would have marked the 10th year he and Borgwarth and other friends would have traveled to a bike rally in Sturgis, S.D.

“Dennis was my very best friend ever,” Torkelson said.

John W. Vessey Jr. a retired U.S. Army general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a letter that was read at the service in which he addressed Borgwarth’s important work that made the United States safer.

Gisela Borgwarth recalled her son’s passion for water skiing, a passion he retained throughout his life. Hanspeter Borgwarth remembered his son’s interest in ancient history, math, physics and the arts. He also praised the Brainerd School District for the education it provided Dennis Borgwarth.

“No school district in the world is better than 181,” he said.

Paul Cibuzar, who also works in a defense-related industry, spoke of the pressures of that environment. Also speaking were Bill Matthies, Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, John Luce, Brainerd City Council member Chip Borkenhagen.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860