Herbert Thorndal was born January 21, 1929, in Minot, North Dakota. He graduated from high school in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Thorndal served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea and received the Bronze Star for his work as an intelligence officer. His tour was in 1952-53.
A 1951 graduate of North Dakota State University with a degree in economics, he worked in a bank at Mankato, Minnesota before going into the family bank at Columbus in 1954. Thorndal was president of the Columbus State Bank before being appointed as the Commissioner of Banking and Financial Institutions by Governor Guy in 1966 and served in that capacity until his appointment as BND president in 1969.
After his retirement from BND in 1986, he moved to Minot, North Dakota and was the Chief Executive Officer of Farm Credit Service of Northwestern North Dakota until he retired in 1991. His banking career included six international trade missions.
Thorndal was known for his dry wit and generosity. He enjoyed a daily crossword puzzle. He and his wife, Nancy, had nine children and 19 grandchildren. He died March 4, 2002 at his home in Fargo.