WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published December 20, 2013, 12:06 PM

East Grand Forks City Council member dies

Ron Vonasek died at his home Thursday. The cause of death for the first ward council member is unclear, although Mayor Lynn Stauss said Vonasek recently underwent back surgery.

By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald

East Grand Forks City Council member Ron Vonasek, 62, died Thursday evening.

The cause of death for the first ward alderman is unclear, son Shane Vonasek said. An autopsy will be conducted.

The council will appoint a replacement who will serve until Dec. 31, 2014.

Vonasek was appointed to the council in 2011 after the death of long-time alderman Dick Grassel. He was elected to another term in 2012.

“Ron was selected to serve on the council and then elected because he was a lot like (Grassel),” Stauss said. “They came from the same mold — common, ordinary guys.

“Ron was a good neighborhood man who looked out for his ward. He didn’t get into the big issues often because his main concern was his ward.”

Vonasek was the swing vote in the council’s decision for East Grand Forks to continue treating its own wastewater rather than partnering with Grand Forks on the interconnect project. While the other elected officials were clearly on one side or the other from the start of the debate, he had a more nuanced position but eventually sided with the mayor, saying that EGF would lose some control with the interconnect.

Survivors include wife Genny and six adult children.

Visitation is from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, with a 4:30 p.m. prayer service at East Grand Forks Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Sacred Heart.