MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Vince Lindstrom, who for many years led the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, and before that worked several years for the Fargo Public School District, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 77.
Lindstrom’s wife, Dorothy, posted the news on his Facebook page Monday morning, Jan. 13.
“Vince is gone,” the post said. "He died peacefully in his beloved recliner early this morning. My dear God, we are going to miss him. Peace to his kind soul.”
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Eksjo Lutheran Church in Lake Park, Minn. An open house visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 in the church.
Condolences by the dozens were posted on Facebook.
“Vince has passed on, not away,” former Fargo School Board member Paul Meyers said. “When we lose someone, we often think of what we have lost. I think it is better to remember all that we gained by having Vince for as long as we did. His memory will live on, as we hope all of ours will. Vince. We remember.”
Lindstrom was born Feb. 8, 1942 to Genevieve and Rodney Lindstrom of Detroit Lakes, Minn. He graduated from Lake Park (Minn.) High School in 1960 and Concordia College in Moorhead in 1964. He later received a master's degree in film and fine arts in Connecticut.
From 1962 to 1964, he was youth director at Fargo’s Messiah Lutheran Church. During the 1960s, he also worked as a film editor at a New Haven, Conn., television station and as a teacher of English, film production, television and media at a Clinton, Conn., high school.
In 1974, Lindstrom had been working as a school administrator in Massachusetts when he was chosen by the Fargo School Board to be the school district’s cultural resources coordinator.
Lindstrom called himself “the hustler for the arts” and was known for the energy and enthusiasm he brought to the projects on which he focused, including the Creative Arts Studio and fundraising for the Trollwood Performing Arts School.
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In 1979, he was named as a special council for arts and education by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts.
A year later, Lindstrom was appointed as director of a hospitality council to serve the Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo areas. It was later named the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was an unabashed cheerleader for the Fargo-Moorhead area, and supported efforts to expand the Fargo Civic Center, build a horse racing track in Fargo, build the Hjemkomst Interpretive Center, and he initiated contact with Vimmerby, Sweden, to help connect it with Fargo as a sister city.
Lindstrom was known as an idea man, and at least one of them was a piece of inspired mischief.
In 1985, Yogi Berra, who had risen to fame as catcher for the New York Yankees and later as coach of the New York Mets and Houston Astros, flew in to Fargo to take part in the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament. Lindstrom was driving Berra from the airport to his hotel, when they talked about what sort of crops were grown in the Red River Valley. Lindstrom told him it was potatoes, but Berra was skeptical, telling Lindstrom, "You wouldn't have enough potatoes for my front lawn."
That November, Lindstrom told members of the Red River Valley Potato Growers Association of Berra's doubts. It was then agreed to send a truckload of potatoes to Berra. Soon, 46,000 pounds of spuds were bound for Berra's home in Montclair, N.J., just in time for Thanksgiving.
Lindstrom flew east for the arrival of the shipment and contacted news outlets, getting national coverage from NBC and CBS of the crates of potatoes parked on Berra's lawn.
Lindstrom told The Forum that Berra got a laugh out of the stunt.
"We got tons of publicity," Lindstrom told Forum reporter Patrick Springer. "Fargo was famous for awhile."
"My job is to be the energy," Lindstrom told The Forum in 1986. "People say, 'Dammit, that Lindstom is never in his office.' Well, I can't do my job sitting behind a desk."
He likened himself "a scout, not a wagonmaster."
"I'm a race horse. Put a race horse in a corral and it dies. You've got to let a race horse run," he told The Forum.
Lindstrom served at the CVB until 1990, according to Forum archives.
In 1990, Lindstrom was named the first executive director of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, which at that time was located in LeClaire, Iowa.
In December 1993, Lindstrom was named the senior executive for corporate development for Mikohn, a Las Vegas-based casino sign company.
He later served nearly two years as the head of the Joplin (Mo.) Convention and Visitors Bureau. He started in January 2008 and his successor began in November 2010.
"I never met a man that has so much compassion, inspired everyone to dream bigger dreams, and then go out and accomplish them," said Steve Roark, who met Lindstrom in Joplin.
Lindstrom traveled extensively around the world and believed in maintaining a positive mental attitude in life.
In 2008, Lindstrom told Forum writer John Lamb in a New Year's note that, "Having a positive mental attitude mean(s) loving life, people and taking advantage of every opportunity to celebrate life. I am the most thankful person in the world. My adventures in Fargo-Moorhead set the stage for life in the Quad Cities, Las Vegas and now Joplin, Missouri."
Lindstrom's recent Facebook posts included a positive focus on life and living, including this one from Jan. 7.
"My morning gratitude meditation centered around the important of living with a positive mental attitude. If you have the ability take time to read . I believe that music is the inspiration that will provide a sense of JOY," he wrote, punctuating it with a smiling face emoji. "Today make an effort to avoid negative thoughts. Focus on kindness and compassion."
Lindstrom was living in Maple Grove when he passed away.
Among those surviving him are his wife, Dorothy Clark of Maple Grove; his daughters, Lisa Lindstrom of Lake Park, Minn., Liv (Drew) Gregor of Nairobi, Kenya, Suzanne (Allen) Wheeler of New Hope, Minn., and Carrie Preusse of Chaska, Minn., and several grandchildren.
(This story was updated Saturday, Jan. 18, to include visitation and service information, survivors and other information not previously available.)