The End of an Era: Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist Retires After Nearly Four Decades in Law Enforcement

He's been sheriff since 2002

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist announced his retirement nearly a year ago, and now he’s celebrating the end of that chapter of his life with a retirement party.

“I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement. So I was waiting and waiting until that time when I got to school and I’ve loved it since,” he said.

His law enforcement career has spanned almost four decades. He’s been sheriff for 16 years.

“One night I thought, ‘it’s probably time for the younger people to be doing this.’ It’s time for me to say goodbye,” he said.

His successor, Mark Empting, was sworn in yesterday.

“It was nice to get sworn in, a lot of hard work to get to this point. It was nice to have that finally come to fruition,” Empting said.

Bergquist has been a mentor to him both at the Sheriff’s Office and the Dilworth Fire Department.

“I’ve been fortunate to have him as family in my life helping me out and guiding me along,” Empting said.

He says the best advice Bergquist has given him is to always be kind.

“He is most definitely a model of that. There’s no doubt that’s something he’s always done throughout the course of his life and definitely his career,” Empting said.

The retirement party brought together family, friends, and people from different law enforcement agencies.

Little ones were also there to help, and they certainly appreciate the time they get to spend with grandpa.

“He reads stories with me,” Jacey Bergquist, 7, his granddaughter, said.

“It’s been a heck of ride. I’m looking forward to him just enjoying this day for what it has to present and for people to honor him and share their thoughts. It’s been a sweet ride,” Annie Bergquist, his wife, said.

“He’s the best sheriff,” Jacey said.

“It’s been great working for them, and taking care of them, and there’s a lot of great people in Clay County,” Bergquist said.

“Just working for the citizens of Clay County— it’s going to be the funnest part of this,” Empting said.

Bergquist first ran for sheriff in 2002 and replaced Sheriff Larry Costello after he retired.

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