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Glassheim of Grand Forks gets standing ovation from N.D. Legislature after hospitalization

State Rep. Eliot Glassheim, D-Grand Forks, (right) shares a laugh with Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in the office of House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, (background) at the state Capitol. Photo by Mike Nowatzki / Forum News Service

BISMARCK – House lawmakers surprised longtime state Rep. Eliot Glassheim with a standing ovation when he walked into the chamber Wednesday morning after a brief hospital stay for what doctors believe was a mild stroke.

The Grand Forks Democrat rode in a wheelchair to the House chamber, where he stood up and walked to his desk, setting off a chain of applause from fellow representatives.

“That was pretty overwhelming,” he said afterward.

Glassheim, who represents District 18, went to the hospital Sunday because he was having trouble talking and wasn't feeling well.

The 77-year-old said doctors believe he had a transient ischemic attack, but they didn’t find any blood clots and a scan showed no brain damage. They couldn’t perform an MRI because of his pacemaker, he said.

Glassheim said walking was making him tired and he was short of breath, though he attributed that to blood flow from his heart and not the mild stroke.

Assistant Minority Leader Corey Mock, who wheeled Glassheim down the hallway after the morning session, said it made his day to see Glassheim return to the House chamber. Mock recently bought Glassheim’s used bookstore, Dr. Eliot’s Twice Sold Sales.

Glassheim – who holds a doctorate degree in literature – is serving his 13th session, tied with Rep. Jerry Kelsh of Fullerton as the longest-serving Democrat in the House, though Kelsh spent 18 of his years in the Senate.

Glassheim was first elected to the House in 1974, lost his next election in 1976 and then won his current seat in 1992. He also served 30 years on the Grand Forks City Council.

“It’s not the same without him,” Mock said.

Glassheim was in good spirits, joking about all of the attention he received.

“This is wonderful. I have to get sick more often,” he said.

He also quipped that he was glad he missed Monday’s House vote on the late-session bill introduced by Republicans to reform the state’s oil tax structure.

“I would have had a stroke then,” he said.  

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.