In Memoriam – April 2017by Access Press Staff // April 10th, 2017
Becklund a pioneer in home care
A pioneer in home health care, independence and dignity has died. Rhoda Arlene Becklund died March 14. She was 79 and lived in Minneapolis.
Becklund was founder and longtime owner of her own home health care companies, and Becklund Outreach, an affiliated nonprofit. She opened her own agency in 1984. She is celebrated as someone who went the extra mile for home care and housing for people with disabilities. She is also remembered as a visionary, who went well above and beyond everyone’s expectations.
One of her pioneering efforts was helping people who are on ventilators live independently. Allowing people with ventilators to live independently was seen by some service providers as being potentially too risky. But Becklund worked to see past the challenges and make independent living possible.
Activist Jeff Bangsberg honored Becklund in his 2011 speech, when he won the Access Press Charlie Smith Award. The annual award is given to recognize those who provide outstanding service to people with disabilities. Becklund was also a nominee that year. Bangsberg and others speak of Becklund as someone who not only advocated for care and housing for Minnesotans with disabilities, she also helped people find meaningful work and find their voices. She had a vision of what home care should be and was a strong advocate for many people.
In his speech, Bangsberg said, “If it wasn’t for Rhoda Becklund, I would not have had the opportunity to work on additional health care-related issues like Medical Assistance-Employment for People with Disabilities.” His work for Becklund later led to a post with the Minnesota Home Care Association.
By 2001 Becklund had grown Becklund Home Health Care Inc. into the Twin Cities’ largest home health care firm. That year she sold the agency to Intrepid U.S.A., which had been in the Twin Cities since the early 1990s.
By then Becklund Home Health Care Inc. was the 13th largest woman-owned business in Minnesota, according to a CityBusiness Top 25 List. By 2000, the company was a great success and was generating about $29 million per year in revenue.
But things were changing. The sale came at a time when Medicare reimbursement cuts were shaking up the home health provider field. Agencies were consolidating, and Becklund followed that trend. But Becklund continued her pioneering work and her services to people with disabilities, even after selling her flagship company. She worked up until her death.
Born in Pipestone on May 22, 1937, Becklund was always interested in and concerned for others. After graduating
from Pipestone High School, she attended St. Olaf College and later received R.N. and PhN. nursing degrees from the University of Minnesota.
She worked in the home health care industry for many years, drawing on her education as a public health nurse. She started her own home health care agency, Becklund Home Health Care, and provided service and employment to many people in her community over the years.
Along with the home care agency, Becklund also started a medical supply company and non-profit agency, dedicated to providing shared housing for people with disabilities.
Her years of dedicated work led to many awards and honors from the business and disability communities in the Twin Cities.
She was always supportive of family and friends, and very much enjoyed spending time with family. Becklund is survived by sons John Robert, and his wife Anna, and Thomas Andrew, grandson Dexter Ray. Also surviving are a nephew, Stephen Joseph Charles, his family and many other family members and friends. Information on services wasn’t available.
Omodt an Arc founder
Longtime Hennepin County Sheriff Don Omodt is remembered not only for a long career in law enforcement, but for his advocacy for people with disabilities. Omodt died at age 89 March 17. He was a longtime Minneapolis resident.
Omodt was a long-time public servant and held the office of Hennepin County Sheriff for 28 years, shaping the department to reflect the professionalism and pride of law enforcement, He also was a special FBI agent and worked as an assistant Hennepin County attorney. He held many top positions with law enforcement groups, and taught law enforcement. He was a World War II and Korean War era veteran, and trained as a U.S. Army paratrooper.
One of his many civic accomplishments was to help found The Arc Greater Twin Cities to support people with developmental disabilities. He was active at two Catholic parishes and several interfaith groups, wrote several history books and enjoyed coaching and watching hockey. He was preceded in death by his wife Helen Ann and daughter Debbie, and survived by seven children, 14 grandchildren, and many other family members and friends. Services have been held, with interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Memorials are preferred to Arc Greater Twin Cities, Vail Place, Helen Ann Omodt scholarship fund at Southwest High School, the Cretin High School scholarship fund or donor’s choice.