Fargo businessman, father of lieutenant governor, dies
FARGO - Howard W. Wrigley, a prominent Fargo businessman and father of the lieutenant governor, died unexpectedly of a heart attack Saturday morning at his remote fly-in fishing lodge in the far reaches of northern Saskatchewan. He was 79. Wrigle...
FARGO – Howard W. Wrigley, a prominent Fargo businessman and father of the lieutenant governor, died unexpectedly of a heart attack Saturday morning at his remote fly-in fishing lodge in the far reaches of northern Saskatchewan. He was 79.
Wrigley was CEO of Wrigley Mechanical, a Fargo-based industrial contractor that he founded in 1978, and still went to work almost every day, his son Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley said Sunday night.
"Life was very, very full for my dad still," Drew Wrigley said.
Howard Wrigley had been battling lung cancer for the past six months, his son said, but "he was definitely winning that battle." He had a surgery scheduled for the end of the month.
"It's a shock, but at the same time we feel incredibly blessed about my dad and the life that he had, and the life that we had with him," Drew Wrigley said.
To the end, Howard Wrigley enjoyed the outdoors-he went turkey-hunting last month-and met with a coffee group each morning to discuss politics and RedHawks baseball, his son said.
Drew Wrigley described his father as a "community-minded person," who was active in the church, with the Boy Scouts and with the El Zagal Shrine, which he headed in 1985.
Howard Wrigley grew up on a family farm just northwest of Columbus, N.D., and went to a one-room schoolhouse, his son said. He joined the Army for two years before graduating from the University of North Dakota with a mechanical engineering degree.
In 2012, he was inducted into UND's prestigious Engineering Alumni Academy.
"That was just one of the proudest days of our whole family's life, really capping off an incredible career," Drew Wrigley said.
Toward the end of his life, Howard Wrigley had two open-heart surgeries and two knee replacements, but his son said these didn't slow him down.
"All these things, and the guy, within days, his eyes were always sparkling," Drew Wrigley said. "In the end, Howard Wrigley was never going to rust out. He wore out."
Howard Wrigley could be a disciplinarian, but he also joked around and "boy, was he unconditional in his love," Drew Wrigley said. "For his family, for his kids, for the scouts, for his friends, for people he knew. He had a real way about him."
One of his favorite places was the fishing cabin in Canada, where he had been going for more than 25 years and went on Friday with his son Blake and three close friends.
"If Dad had written the script for where he'd like to be and how he'd like to go, I guess that would've been it," Drew Wrigley said.
Howard Wrigley is survived by his wife Gloria, who he married almost 60 years ago and "was a full partner in everything he did," Drew Wrigley said. He is also survived by his sons, Drew and Blake, who is president of his business; his daughter, Tanya Lingle; and six grandchildren. He was one of four brothers and the last of them to die.