Former East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss remembered for dedication to the city, efforts after Flood of '97
Stauss died Sunday, Sept. 11. He was 77.
GRAND FORKS – Mike Brown remembers Lynn Stauss, former mayor of East Grand Forks, as someone who “really moved his community forward” and was instrumental in efforts to rebuild his city after the devastating Flood of '97.
Stauss died Sunday, Sept. 11, at his home in rural Grand Forks. He suffered from chronic kidney disease and had been on dialysis for the past seven years. He was 77.
Stauss served 21 years as East Grand Forks mayor, choosing not to run for re-election in 2016, citing health issues.
“We took several trips together to Washington, D.C., during our (flood) recovery, to do two things. One was to ask for help and the other was to say thank you for the help we got. (Stauss) was always leading the charge,” said Brown, a longtime mayor of Grand Forks. “He did very well.”
Stauss also was instrumental in distributing millions of dollars to flood victims from the Angel Fund, established by Joan Kroc, a philanthropist and widow of Ray Kroc, who built the McDonald’s hamburger chain. Joan Kroc was one of the first to aid residents of Greater Grand Forks after the Red River overran its banks in April 1997.
Also after the flood, Brown said, Stauss played a key role in bringing “that fabulous Cabela’s sporting goods store in East Grand Forks. He was responsible, I think, in a large part, for that. He really moved his community forward.”
Stauss, who had been a fourth-grade teacher, had optimism and was “caring and giving,” Brown said. “And he was very proud of what East Grand Forks accomplished and how quickly they accomplished it – and, in fact, they made us look slow over here.”
Stauss “worked well with people — that’s really important with your council,” Brown said, noting that Stauss seemed to believe that “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as it gets done. He would be behind the scenes on many positive things in moving his community forward.”
“What was good for his town was good for our town and vice versa,” Brown said.
Stauss was known for often wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with “USA” as he worked to help the city recover from the Flood of '97, said Robert “Punky” Beauchamp, who served as an East Grand Forks City Council member from 1988 to 2003, the last 10 years as president.
Beauchamp said Stauss, “like many long-serving people in East Grand Forks, was a strong advocate for all the people of East Grand Forks.
“He was a strong advocate for youth sports (and) the beautification of the city was big on his mind,” he said. “He wanted East Grand Forks to stand out.”
Stauss’ work, with others, in leading the city after the flood – including redevelopment of downtown and rebuilding of housing – were his major priorities, Beauchamp said.
“When you think about what happened to the community – we had only eight dry houses in the whole community – we came back pretty strong, pretty fast,” he said. “And he played a part in that.”
David Murphy, East Grand Forks city administrator, said Stauss “was always promoting the city of East Grand Forks.”