There is a photo in a Forum newsletter from when columnist Bob Lind “retired” in 1998 that shows the newsroom gathered around him, everyone smiling. Many of those pictured then, as well as friends and family throughout the years, are smiling again, recalling their time with him as he started hospice care this week.

The 88-year-old had a stroke in April, and a number of complications have deteriorated his health.

Forum columnist Bob Lind, with the arrow pointing to him, at his "retirement" in 1998. For more than 50 years, Bob has been the most loved man in the newsroom.  Forum file photo
Forum columnist Bob Lind, with the arrow pointing to him, at his "retirement" in 1998. For more than 50 years, Bob has been the most loved man in the newsroom. Forum file photo

In Bob’s signature style, he’s dealt with these curveballs with grace and humor. In a May 29 column, he revealed his health issues.

“Thanks to the many people who have sent me notes and cards of encouragement and those who are praying for me. You are a blessing,” he wrote. “I now believe that if and when I get well, I’m going to take up golf. Because golfers seek to reduce strokes.”

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Over the last half-century, his easy smiles, good humor, rock-solid faith and unwavering support for the Minnesota Twins have made him one of the most loved Forum writers. Ever.

“I know it sounds corny, but Bob Lind is a good man. He’s a good guy in all aspects. As a friend, he’s not only reliable but trustworthy. Bob is the kind of friend you can go to and talk to and know that will stay private. That means a lot,” says Jack Zaleski, the Forum’s former editorial page editor.

'He loved good news stories'

A 1957 graduate from the University of Minnesota, Lind edited papers in Spring Valley, Minn., and Larimore, N.D., before coming to The Forum as a wire editor in 1969.

The year was a divisive one in the country, but Lind brought a calming perspective to the night desk, says Katherine Tweed, who worked alongside him.

“He was really good at keeping things even-keeled,” she says, adding Lind and her husband Doug would share jokes. “It was easy to laugh and work with Bob and appreciate how to handle things. If he saw something that wasn’t done right, he would find an educational and gentle way to tell you what he wanted.”

He would work his way up to assistant news editor in the early 1980s, but shortly after switched gears and became a lifestyle and feature writer, allowing his humor and love of people to shine in his words.

“He loved good news stories, stories about people’s successes and joys,” Tweed says. “There are lots of days without good news in the paper, and Bob knew he could put a little joy in the paper.”

Bob Lind and his daughter Laurie when she interviewed him for a Father's Day story in 2009. Forum file photo
Bob Lind and his daughter Laurie when she interviewed him for a Father's Day story in 2009. Forum file photo

Whether it was a personality profile or an account of his attempt to work out — 1982’s “Bob meets the nautilus machine” — he did just that and earned major awards along the way until “retiring” in 1998. We use that in quotes because one of the first things he did after retiring was to continue his columns at the request of the company. For the next 23 years, he remained a newsroom regular, cranking out his increasingly popular “Neighbors” column, which runs three days a week.

“He never really quit,” says Zaleski.

Zaleski came to the paper in 1989, and the two became close friends, part of a group that would regularly go out to breakfasts and later lunches.

“It’s not the major news or events of the day, but the character of a community and its history,” Zaleski says about the “Neighbors” column. “Bob has a way of synthesizing that in a very reader-friendly way so readers could indulge in their memories and nostalgia.”

Bob's own social network

As interested as he may have been in local social studies, Bob’s column developed its own social network. He would get mail from a reader asking him if he remembered a certain event, place or person from long ago. Lind would then publish that query, along with any photos, in his column, prompting more letters to feed more columns. He got more mail than anyone else in the building.

“He is like Facebook for a lot of older readers,” says Forum Editor-in-Chief Matthew Von Pinnon. “I think of Bob as a crowd-sourcer. He would put stuff out there, and readers would send answers back in. It was a constant loop of information.”

Sometimes the loop spun longer than expected.

Bob says he was surprised readers were so enthralled by stories of The Galloping Goose, the nickname for regional trains that hauled mail, milk and passengers from town to town in the first half of the 20th Century. On The Forum’s website, there are 170 entries when searching for “Bob Lind Galloping Goose,” dating back to when he first wrote about it in 2005.

His favorite topics were small towns, like his native Niagara, N.D., baseball and faith.

Bob Lind with wife Marcie and daughter Laurie in the early 1960s. Special to The Forum
Bob Lind with wife Marcie and daughter Laurie in the early 1960s. Special to The Forum

“He loved making those connections with people who had warm feelings about the neighborhoods or an area. He enjoyed those historical connections,” Zaleski says.

Those who wish to send well-wishes to Bob can mail them to 2304 15th St. S., Fargo, ND, 58103.

“With over 140 years of producing a newspaper, we have had many writers and reporters. Bob Lind is without a doubt the hardest working and best read of any of our reporters,” says Forum Publisher and CEO Bill Marcil Jr. “I joked with him that he never retired, and I think in my 30 years of working and reading Bob’s work, he kept getting better. His life, legacy and columns will live within our legacy forever.”

In a profession where reporters can struggle to make deadlines, Lind has been something of an anomaly, routinely filing his columns six months before being published. In fact, The Forum has enough works submitted by him that if he never writes again, his columns will run in the paper until the fall.

'We’re so happy you’re here'

What you see is what you get with Bob, and the first thing you see is the smile. That’s what Deb Jenkins remembers from the times he, Zaleski and others from the newsroom would come into her Full Circle Cafe for a bite.

Bob and Jenkins’ birthdays were just days apart in the first week of March, and every year he would send her a note wishing her a happy birthday and asking if she’d be going to Jamaica, a favorite spring getaway for Jenkins.

From left, Bob Lind, Arne Teigland and Don Ellingson in a screen grab from Bethel Church's "Old Guys Rule.". Special to The Forum
From left, Bob Lind, Arne Teigland and Don Ellingson in a screen grab from Bethel Church's "Old Guys Rule.". Special to The Forum

That connection with people is something Bob has found even over the last few months. He would learn the names and histories of all who entered his room, from the doctors to the cafeteria staff. When he learned someone was a new American, he would touch their arm and say, “We’re so happy you’re here.”

He’s developed a special camaraderie with a CNA at Bethany Retirement Living named Berin, a bodybuilder from Bosnia.

“We all find this to be the most odd friendship,” says Bob’s daughter, Laurie. “Berin is 27, built like a tank, covered in tattoos, has various earrings, and he and my little shriveled up, clean-cut 88-year-old dad are just great pals.”

“Bob treats people in a very civil manner,” Zaleski says. “He may disagree vehemently, but his priority was not to argue, but to listen and understand. He was not going to argue or criticize people for their beliefs. That understanding of difference makes Bob comfortable to be around.”

'Bob is a man of real faith'

Just as he was committed to writing good news in the newspaper, Bob devoted much of his personal time to the good word of the Bible.

“A finer Christian gentleman than Bob I've never met,” says Arne Tiegland, a former fellow worshipper at Bethel Church. “Some years ago, I asked him to pray for a friend of mine that he had never met, and still I get emails from Bob asking about that friend whom he still has never met. In other words, he keeps his commitments. After his stroke, he asked me to pray for a person I am likely never to meet. I'll try to be as faithful as Bob has been.”

Bob Lind and his wife of 62 years, Marcie, seen here in 2019. Special to The Forum
Bob Lind and his wife of 62 years, Marcie, seen here in 2019. Special to The Forum

Tiegland and Lind received some level of notoriety a decade ago, when a Bethel pastor asked them and another congregant to record a rap song and video called “Old Guys Rule.” It has been viewed about 150,000 times across a couple of video streaming platforms.

The project was a fun way to engage younger audiences, but Bob doesn’t take his faith lightly.

“I don't care whether (the message) is in music, or in drama, or videos or whatever, as long as it stays true to scripture, then I don't think there's anything wrong with it," he told The Forum at the time.

“Bob is a man of real faith. It’s not a showboating thing,” Zaleski says. “Bob would put faith, family and work in that order. It was unshakable.”

As devout as he is in his faith, he is just as devoted to his wife of 62 years, Marcie, and his four children, Laurie, Kevin, Keith and Mark and their children.

In 2009, Laurie interviewed her dad for Father’s Day and asked him about Bob and Marcie’s wedding day, Feb. 14, 1959. Valentine’s Day.

“Mom has always been accused of this, of picking that day so that I would always remember our anniversary date because husbands sometimes can't remember their anniversary date,” he joked.

Bob Lind, longtime columnist for The Forum sits with his wife Marcie and their family at the Fargo Theatre, waiting for the documentary, "Inside Stories," about newspapers in North Dakota. Forum file photo
Bob Lind, longtime columnist for The Forum sits with his wife Marcie and their family at the Fargo Theatre, waiting for the documentary, "Inside Stories," about newspapers in North Dakota. Forum file photo

Good words

His strokes have made it difficult for Bob to talk much, and he lacks energy for many visits outside of immediate family. We asked his daughter Laurie if we could send her some questions to read to him and reply with any responses.

It’s only fitting to let Bob Lind have the last words in his own story.

I've worked with you for 19 years, and in all that time, you've always been able to make those around you smile. What's your key to living a good life?

Following the Lord Jesus.

What has your faith meant to you over the last few months?

Just knowing I’ll be with Jesus forever.

Did your faith influence how you approached your Neighbors column?

Yes, I try to write in a way that’s pleasing to Him.