University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering David Joel Hassett

David Joel Hassett, 66, passed away on Saturday, January 15, 2011, after a short illness.

Dave was born on March 4, 1944, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was the only child of Florence (Matson) and Richard (Dick) Hassett. The Hassett family moved to Winona, Minnesota, when Dave was a young child. They lived in the Sugarloaf area, and Dave attended Winona Public Schools. After high school, Dave attended Winona State College, receiving his Bachelors Degree in Chemistry in 1966. He worked as a chemist at Watkins Products in Winona until 1968, when he was drafted into the Army. During his service, he performed medical research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., until 1970. After his honorable discharge from the Army, Dave returned to Watkins Products and then, in 1973, enrolled in graduate school at Winona State College where he was the Chemistry Department Graduate Teaching Assistant for 2 years. In 1975, Dave accepted a position at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Engineering and Mines (SEM) as State Fuels Analyst. Dave continued as a research chemist for UND SEM and later the Energy & Environmental Research Center, focusing on lignite-related projects, development of biofuels, coal ash, and environmental chemistry. Dave retired from UND midyear in 2010 after 35 years of employment. Dave knew he wanted to be a chemist when he was 5 years old and felt privileged to be able to work in his chosen field with a diverse number of scientists and other professionals as well as in a variety of settings and organizations. Dave loved working in the laboratory and performing demonstrations for groups of students. He was well known for "blowing things up" during his demonstrations as well as for his enthusiasm for chemistry.

On August 2, 1975, Dave was married to Debra Pflughoeft, and they made their home in Grand Forks. Dave and Debbie worked and played together for 35 years. They enjoyed spending time with family, traveling, cooking, and eating. Dave especially enjoyed Asian cuisine and participation in the local chili cook-off. He also enjoyed music and going to see local bands. Dave and Debbie have two children: Richard, born in 1982, and currently serving in the U.S. Air Force at Beale Air Force Base in California, and Roberta, born in 1984 and currently living in Fargo. Dave also has a daughter Rachel, currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rachel is married to David Finch, and they have one son, Caleb, Dave's first grandchild.

A celebration of Dave's life will be held on Sunday, January 23, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Amundson Funeral Home, 2975 South 42nd St., Grand Forks, with a memorial service at 4:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Salvation Army.

Dave's remains will be interred in Winona, Minnesota, at a later date.

Amundson Funeral Home, 2975 South 42nd St., Grand Forks, with a memorial service at 4:00 p.m.

An online guest register may be signed at

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