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East Grand Forks Mayor Gander reflects on his predecessor’s leadership qualities, life of service

Funeral for Lynn Stauss set for Friday at Hope Covenant Church

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In this Herald file photo, Lynn Stauss talks about his time in office as mayor of East Grand Forks, as he prepares to leave that role in December 2016. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Former East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss should be remembered for the “great sacrifice” he made for his country and community, said Steve Gander who followed him as mayor in 2017.

Stauss, 77, died Sunday, Sept. 11, at his home. He suffered from chronic kidney disease and had been on dialysis for the past seven years.

The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at Hope Covenant Church, 1601 17th Ave. S., Grand Forks. Visitation is from 9 to 11 a.m.

The family prefers memorials to the East Grand Forks Education Foundation, P.O. Box 588, East Grand Forks, Minnesota 56721 or to the East Grand Forks VFW, 312 DeMers Ave., East Grand Forks.

“From his military service in the U.S. Army in (Vietnam), to the positive effect he had on our children as an elementary school teacher, to his dedication to youth athletics, Lynn lived his life in the service of others,” Gander said in an email to the Herald.

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“As we mourn the passing of former Mayor Lynn Stauss, and as we grieve with his family and friends, I hope we will pause to consider his great sacrifice to our country and our community,” Gander said.

“Lynn and (his wife) Marjorie, along with their entire family, have given more to our community than we could ever ask of them. In the aftermath of the Flood of 1997 when Lynn stepped up and gave full-time attention to his duties as mayor, the family business continued to cover his earnings, even without him being there as much as he would have liked, so that he could see to the greater good of East Grand Forks and the surrounding region.

“Very often after a major disaster like the Flood of 1997, community leadership changes over quickly — whether due to the fatigue of the individual, the disapproval of the people they serve, or other factors,” Gander said. “Lynn had the trust of the citizens and the personal tenacity to persevere for over a decade after the flood, helping to implement the steps for recovery. I remember thinking at the time that the load he carried during those years was bound to impact his health. It is likely that he left this earth a bit early on behalf of all of us.”

When philanthropist Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc who built the McDonald’s hamburger fast-food chain, stepped up to provide millions of dollars to help flood victims recover in the spring of 1997, she and Stauss became friends, Gander said.

Stauss had the ability to make “good human connections” and bond with people, a trait that likely strengthened Kroc’s empathy for this region which was so beneficial for the people here, he said.

Gander shared a story that, he said, illustrated Stauss’ leadership qualities. Shortly after the Flood of 1997, when Lynn and Marjorie Stauss visited Kroc in California, they were impressed by the long private drive, the sprawling property and beautiful home.

“Lynn asked her, ‘with the amazing property, the amazing home you have here, are you at all concerned that when you get to heaven it’s going to be a bit of a let-down?’ So he was very candid with people,” Gander recalled, chuckling.

“Joan said, ‘to be honest, that thought has crossed my mind, but I am still absolutely confident that the splendor of heaven will be greater than what we have here.’

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“I think that’s such a cute story: you have the thought and you have the candor to raise the question – and she’d had the same thought herself,” he said with a laugh.

The anecdote illustrates Stauss’ “forthright way of dealing with people, with authenticity,” Gander said. “He was absolutely genuine. With Lynn, what you see is what you get.”

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Edwards finished with 29 points, including 17 in the final frame, to go with five rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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