For more than 25 years, Bob Lind’s much-loved Neighbors column could be counted on as a bright spot in The Forum as he helped share good news and fond memories of those in the area.
Lind’s neighborhood of family, friends and tens of thousands of readers may seem a little darker following the death of the 88-year-old writer Monday night.
A visitation will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8, at Korsmo Funeral Home in Moorhead., followed by a prayer service at 5. The funeral will be at 11 a.m., Monday, Aug. 9, at Bethel Church in Fargo.
Lind’s health had declined following a stroke in April. Two weeks ago his family announced he had entered hospice.
Always upbeat and eager to praise others rather than himself, Lind used a May column, in which he updated readers on his condition, to also heap thanks on the caregivers at Sanford Health, Sanford Rehabilitation Hospital and Bethany on University.
“Many of the people taking care of me come from Africa, the Philippines and other areas. It’s great to have these people in our community,” he wrote.
Though he spent most of his life in North Dakota and Minnesota, his love for people knew no borders.
“This is my firm belief from experience that everybody out there’s got a story of some kind,” he said in a 2015 interview for the documentary, “Inside Stories: Oral Histories of North Dakota Journalists Project,” led by former Forum reporter Teri Finneman. “I’ve interviewed important people, you know, major government officials and sports stars and so on. That’s always fun, but it’s the man on the street, the woman on the street. They got stories, too, and even though their name isn’t known, their story is important to them. And it’s just been fun to meet people and to write about that kind of stuff.”
A life in newspapers
Lind was born on March 2, 1933, in Grand Forks and grew up to the west in Niagara, N.D.
His connection to newspapers started with following World War II coverage in the Grand Forks Herald and the Minneapolis Tribune. He recalled a map printed in the Tribune of all of the battlefronts and placing pins in each space as Allied forces moved in.
Lind attended the University of Minnesota, but his studies were interrupted as he enlisted in the Army during the Korean War, which ended when he was still in training. When he returned to Minneapolis, he still wasn’t sure what to do with his life, so he turned to prayer, telling God he would follow His lead.
He enrolled back in school in January 1956 and, needing an elective, took News Writing 101.
“I loved it, and miracle of miracles I started getting A’s. Whoa. You know, that was pretty rare for me, you know?” he told Finneman. “So there were two big things that the Lord provided: a career and a wife.”
Lind met his wife Marcie when they both attended the U of M, and they were married in 1959. After college, he worked as the editor of the Spring Valley (Minn.) Tribune. The couple then bought the Larimore (N.D.) Pioneer and ran that for seven years before he joined The Forum in 1969.
He spent the following decade in editing positions but transitioned to writing for the features and lifestyle sections in the 1980s.
His decades-long experience with regional newspapers made him an ideal interview subject for “Inside Stories: Oral Histories of North Dakota" in 2015.
Lind retired in 1998 but was asked to keep producing the popular Neighbors column, so he kept coming to work and writing.
“Scripture says, ‘Love thy neighbors.’ I love my Neighbors,” he said with a laugh in that 2015 interview. “And people seem to enjoy it, like the people here at The Forum have kept me on for goodness sakes. Again, it’s amazing. So how can I help but be upbeat when you do something you like, working with good people down there. I love these people, all these people. I wish I could get to know them better, but they’re just fun to work with and the people I come in contact with through the column, it’s just fun.”
Lind's daughter Laurie recalled an interesting detail about her dad:
“We had this game as we drove around Fargo-Moorhead,” she said. “On any given block, I’d ask, what do you know about any house on this block? Sure enough, he’d been to this house or that house, written about people who lived here or there, knew of a governor or senator or business owner who used to live here or there, or he and my mom had had dinner in that house, or friends used to live there.”
When Lind retired, his family put up a map and put pins in all of the places he had visited on assignment.
"Bob was a prince among men, a wonderful husband and father and God's gift to me," Marcie Lind said.
At home in the newsroom
Bob and Marcie have four children — Laurie, Kevin, Keith and Mark — and 12 grandchildren.
Still, the newsroom was Lind’s home away from home and his colleagues his second family.
In a 2015 column, Kris Kerzman wrote, “Media organizations don’t have parents, but if The Forum had a dad, it would be Bob Lind.”
In that piece, Lind said whether they are small kids or co-workers, people should hear positive encouragement.
He led by example. He was quick to give thanks and slow to anger. Eager to offer support and reluctant to pass judgment.
The friends he developed through his columns were just as supportive of Lind as he was of them.
“They carried this — (story about my) having cancer in the paper,” Lind recalled in Finneman’s interview. “And I got cards from people I do not know. Cards and messages from people out there who gave the time and effort to write me a get well note or something. That's the kind of people there are around here. I mean, how can you not help but appreciate it? How can you not help but love your neighbor when they go out of their way to do that? I keep them. I still got them at home.”
Later, she asked him how he wanted to be remembered. He answered with his signature mix of humility and humor.
“How do I want to be remembered? Well, I hope that people feel that, if they remember me at all, a few of the stories I wrote were interesting,” he said. “Let’s be honest: Six months after I’m out of here, they aren’t going to remember me. I just hope anybody remembers me at all (laughs), you know, two or three will think that maybe he wrote something that was good to read and contributed something to The Forum. I know nobody was going to spend good money for The Forum just to read my column, but maybe hopefully they’ll see it added a little bit to the overall product, hopefully, maybe.”