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Published February 07, 2013, 10:42 AM

Retired Grand Forks City Auditor Dies

Don Tingum is remembered as “the epitome of a public servant,” said his successor former Finance Director John Schmisek.

By: Christopher Bjorke, Grand Forks Herald

Don Tingum, a longtime Grand Forks city auditor who died Feb. 5, was remembered as mentor and a model for other city workers.

“He would be, to me, the epitome of a public servant,” said former city Finance Director John Schmisek, who worked under Tingum for 22 of Tingum’s 30 years in city government, which covered 1963 to 1993.

“I don’t know of anybody who would have been more respected by citizens, mayors and city councils,” he said.

Tingum, who grew up in Larimore, N.D., was 81 when he died at his Grand Forks home.

According to a Herald profile written in 1993, when Tingum retired, he oversaw the city’s finances during a period that included some of Grand Forks’ largest expansion geographically and financially.

He was, the article said, a conscientious minder of the city’s money with a sharp mind for statistics and the minutia of accounting.

“I became very aware of how important it was to be protective of the citizens’ money,” said Schmisek, who succeeded Tingum as auditor before the position was changed to finance director.

Though Tingum was serious about his work, he was not dour.

“If you worked with him, you knew he was also a man who knew how to have a good time and enjoy life,” said Schmisek, recalling how Tingum showed up at Schmisek’s house in costume to play Santa Claus for Schmisek’s young son.

Tingum was also known among his colleagues for his love of casinos, which he visited in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

“I never remember him coming back and saying he lost money,” Schmisek said.

Tingum worked under five mayors and worked “desk-to-desk” with former Mayor Pat Owens when she started out as a city employee, according to the 1993 Herald article.

His attitude toward public service is remembered by other staff members in City Hall, according to Schmisek.

“You hate to lose people like Don because they are such examples to others,” he said.

Tingum is survived by his wife, Shirley and sons, Kirk (Janice) Tingum of Grand Forks and Kent (Joan) Tingum of Miramar, Fla., among others. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sharon Lutheran Church in Grand Forks. Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. at Amundson Funeral Home in Grand Forks.