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Longtime community leader remembered for his service

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A Jamestown businessman noted for his community involvement is being remembered by his friends in Jamestown and around the state.

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Fran Romsdal, 63, died Thursday in his home after a two-year battle with cancer.

“If he met someone he made them his friend,” said Dwaine Heinrich, Romsdal’s friend and a fellow member of the Jamestown Lions Club with Romsdal. “Sometimes people shine away from being a friend because they are afraid. Fran didn’t have those phobias.”

His ability to make friends also came with the ability to listen to people.

“One of the things I attribute to him is he always wanted to hear what was going on in people’s lives,” said Casey Stoudt, another longtime friend of Romsdal. “He was a great listener.”

Stoudt said Romsdal used his personality to provide service to the Jamestown community.

“He was very dedicated to this community,” he said. “If you peel that back a little bit, it was pure generosity on his part. For all the volunteer work he did, I don’t know that it sold another tractor.”

Romsdal first came to the Jamestown community in 1976 to work with his father who owned Central Sales, an implement dealership located south of Jamestown. Over the years he advanced within the family business and retired as president and general manager at the end of 2013 due to poor health.

During his years in the farm implement business, he was involved in trade groups such as the North Dakota Implement Dealers Association.

“Fran was an excellent business and community leader,” said Matthew Larsgaard, president and CEO of the NDIDA. “He fought for small business and was a constant advocate for his dealer friends. He inspired those around him to rise to the next level. The quality we will remember most about Fran is that he was a wonderful friend.”

Harvey Huber, a longtime friend of Romsdal, said his ability to lead will be missed.

“We are all replaceable,” Huber said. “But it will be hard to find another with his brand of leadership.”

Kirk Heim, another longtime friend of Romsdal, said he was generous in many ways.

“Life was all about service,” Heim said. “Fran was involved not just in Jamestown but on many state boards. He had a way of making people feel wanted.”

Heim said Romsdal was particularly active in the Jimmie Boosters.

“He got me involved,” Heim said. “I think he had every piece of paraphernalia they sold.”

Romsdal also played an important part in the operation of the Jamestown Country Club.

“He got the big bridge built,” Heim said. “It was a $40,000 project, and he offered $20,000 from Central Sales if it would be matched.”

Romsdal was the recipient of the 2012 Citizen of the Year Award from the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. When he received the award in February 2013, he had already gone through one cancer surgery and was anticipating going through chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

He had also just gotten married to Monica Peldo in December 2012.

Despite health issues and a new marriage, Romsdal took time to talk about the community of Jamestown for a Jamestown Sun article on Jan. 24, 2013.

“The biggest asset in Jamestown is our people,” he said.

Stoudt said Romsdal was one of the people who helped make the community of Jamestown better.

“He will definitely be missed,” Stoudt said.

Funeral services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 523 4th Ave. SE, in Jamestown

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email atknorman@jamestownsun.com

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