Editor's note: Each week reporter Matthew Guerry shares the life stories of residents of Minnesota or the Dakotas who have died recently. Maybe you don't know them, but their stories are worth knowing. If you have a suggestion for someone to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-321-4314.
Stormin' Norman Ohrmundt was getting his pickup ready for the Verndale, Minn., fire department's annual consignment auction when he had a heart attack.
It was his 53rd year in auctioneer business.
"COVID had kind of set him back this last year for having sales," said Ohrmundt's daughter, Roxy Doehling, of Wadena, Minn. "Otherwise he was still going strong ... he just did not rest. He was a hard-working man."
Ohrmundt's work ethic and attention to detail made an impression on his children, who spent part of their youth helping out on the family farm west of Wadena in Otter Tail County, and through the work they did over the years for his auction business.
Goods had to be loaded onto the trailer just so. Arrange them to Ohrmundt's disliking, and you might be asked to start all over again. Any item up for sale, be it farm equipment or an antique or a piece of furniture, had to be cleaned spotless before the bidding started.
Behind all of that, though, was a jocularity that was as apparent at home as it was on the stage. Ohrmundt loved to make people laugh, family members said.
"You gotta have that sense of humor," son Tim Ohrmundt said, "to be able to talk to people in that line of business ... I know a lot of people after every auction, they would always come up and say, 'God, your dad is a card."
Ohrmundt died March 22, 2021, at the age of 87. Born in Wadena on Sept. 23, 1933, he was the son of Beno and Selma Ohrmundt.
He graduated from Wadena High School in 1951 and, shortly thereafter, attended the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa. He later founded Norm's Auction Service, which he ran until his death. (And yes, he could speak in the rapid-fire style for which auctioneers are known.)
He married Barbara VanOrsdel in 1955, and they had four children before the couple divorced.
He was known on the airwaves as Stormin' Norman, a moniker invented by area radio broadcaster Rick Youngbauer that Ohrmundt enjoyed.
One of the events Stormin' Norman most looked forward to each year, Tim said, was the Verndale auction, where his dad donated his time. It served as something of an informal kick-off to the normal auction season.
Bob Ohrmundt, Norman's eldest son, recalled that auctions could be high- or low-energy affairs depending on the crowd and what was being sold. More often, he said, they were somewhere in between.
"And then if it'd be an estate sale, where they have to sell out, and the family members are standing there arguing and bidding against each other and bawling ... those were the bad ones," Bob, of Wadena, said.
The social aspect of Ohrmundt's work, his children said, was what he liked most about it. He employed numerous people over the years and met many more on the road.
"He loved each and every one of those people that came to his auctions, that (he) sat down and talked with him. He thought the world of everybody there, everybody was his friend," Doehling said.
Ohrmundt was preceded in death by his parents; his son Jeffery Ohrmundt; and his siblings Delores Lacey, Merial "Myrt" Evelyn Thelma Pearson and Alvah Keidel. He is survived by his three living children, seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.