FARGO — It’s been just over a year since newspaper man Bob Lind released his grip on this world to grasp the hand of the savior he’d been anticipating.
In a corner of Randy’s restaurant, his widow, Marcie, and oldest of four children, Laurie, gathered recently with notes and memories of their beloved.
“He was always trying to encourage people, not only in their faith, but in their ability to do whatever their giftedness was,” Marcie recalled.
“And he absolutely loved life. He was just a content man of integrity,” Laurie said. “He was someone sincerely changed by God who wanted to let others know about the lord of his life.”
Friend Barry Gish described Bob as “a people magnet.”
“You couldn’t not like Bob. I can’t even think of him without a smile, always stretching out a hand.”
For the Lind women, it’s been a year of poignant, intentional reminiscing, as they’ve labored over a book on Bob’s life, expected to be released this fall through Forum Communications Printing.
Lyndi Needham, a family friend, first asked, at his visitation, “So where’s the book?” knowing of Bob’s prolific writing trail, Laurie said. “There’s not enough paper on the planet,” quipped newspaper colleague and friend Jack Zaleski.
But it set their heart-hunches in motion. The black-and-white, soft-cover book will be filled with some of Bob’s best columns, photos and favorite Scripture passages.
Laurie said that with assistance, they’ve culled highlights from Bob’s decadeslong writing career, including his “Neighbors” column, which debuted in March 1996 and continued until his death on Aug. 2, 2021. “He wanted it to be about random acts of kindness.”
“Neighbors” was the culmination of a long and illustrious newspaper career, which, the two affirmed, was a third love for Bob after Jesus and his family and friends.
Underneath the arches
Marcie and Bob met in 1956 at a University of Minnesota Lutheran Student Association (LSA) fall picnic. Hearing someone singing the pep song from St. Olaf College, her alma mater, she had to investigate the source; it was Bob.
Later, at a weekend event at LSA, they found themselves sitting at the base of an archway engaged in conversation. By the end of the weekend, they’d been bestowed the “Ball and Chain Award,” Marcie said, due to their fast inseparability. Two years later, they married.
“He thought you were cute,” Laurie said, recalling a semi-fictional short story her Dad had written about a girl with pedal-pushers, bobby socks and red tennis shoes — like the outfit Marcie had worn their first meeting.
His romantic ways never subsided, according to Marcie. Bob loved running errands, and would sometimes return ringing the doorbell, and hand her a bouquet of flowers. “I also got love notes under my pillow at night, or slid under the bathroom door.”
As a father — a side of Bob only the four children were privileged to know — he was incredibly patient, Laurie said, including during her “snarky teenage years.”
“I know I hurt him, but he never seemed to show it.”
On her worst days, she said, he would quote Psalm 30:5, reminding her that “weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
“And it did!”
He was a man of integrity, Marcie said, as evidenced during his Army days when temptations abounded. Instead of searching for sexual encounters like some comrades during their off time, he’d go sightseeing or collect salt and pepper shakers to send home.
“He avoided temptation, and turned it down when it came directly to him.”
And he never complained, even during his bout with cancer a decade before his death.
“I only remember him saying the (hospital) food didn’t taste good,” Laurie said, chuckling.
The newspaper trail
Bob’s first post-college newspaper stint happened at the Spring Valley Tribune in Minnesota, for which he wrote his first humor column, “Bobbin’ Along with Bob.” He later acquired the Larimore, N.D., Pioneer where, according to Laurie, he did everything, from selling ads to producing content at the linotype — including an editorial that was a mix of “serious and goofy.”
“We lived upstairs,” Laurie said. “On Wednesday nights, when it was time to print the paper, us kids would be watching ‘Lost in Space,’ and Mom would be downstairs helping with the paper.”
At 8, Laurie began helping fold the newspapers.
“And you’d let me take cookies downstairs to all the workers,” she reminded Marcie, “who were also our babysitters.”
Bob had dreamed of buying and reviving a struggling newspaper in five years. At the end of the duration, however, Bob recognized the futility, Marcie shared, and one evening, wrote to The Forum to inquire whether they’d hire “a tired newspaper editor from a weekly paper.”
The Forum offered him a job, conditioned on the newspaper’s sale, which took two years. “They would call periodically and ask, ‘Have you sold the paper yet?’” Marcie said. “They always hung in there with him.”
He worked at The Forum first as a copy editor on the night desk, then various other editorial positions, before returning to feature-writing and, eventually, columns.
“It meant a pay cut, but he was doing what he loved,” Marcie said.
“I think he was born to be a features writer,” Laurie added. “He liked the human-interest, heart-touching stories, more than the political.”
“And his humor always came through,” Marcie said. “He was so much fun to be with.”
The source of his smile
Bob loved everything about The Forum, down to its newspapery smell, and his co-workers, Marcie said. But in more hidden moments, he was building the foundation begun at the University of North Dakota, where Bob Glockner, a Christian man, ignited his faith.
Around that time, stirred by a Billy Graham movie, Bob, walking back to his dorm, knelt down and “accepted Christ as his savior,” Marcie said.
He’d first heard about Jesus growing up in little Niagara, N.D., where Bob attended a small church comprising various denominations, and his aunt taught Sunday school.
The couple would eventually call Bethel Church in Fargo home. Here, Bob met Barry Gish, doing Bible studies together. In 1993, Bob wrote about a Mexican mission trip Barry had organized, incorporating all the “Bob Lind flair,” Barry said, “talking about everything from our kids to our dog… but all to build up the cause for Christ.”
His “Neighbors” column was never about himself, Barry said.
“If you tried to make it about him, you couldn’t. He was encouraging, and uniquely gifted in intelligence, but never flaunting.”
“He was God’s instrument,” Barry continued. “That quiet confidence, that restraint, came through an absolute confidence in God’s ability to take him or his words or his work and accomplish God’s own purposes.”
The fruits were obvious, but not so, always, was the well from which he drew. But Marcie knew. Every morning, Bob would “go to the corner of Fourth and Eighth,” a spot in his den where two metal street signs met bearing those numbers — a nod to Phil. 4:8, instructing the faithful to ponder all things true, noble, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy.
“He would meet with the Lord and follow those guidelines in his verses,” she said. “And then he lived his life that way. He never criticized people. He always had something good to say about them, or he would say nothing.”
Bob also kept a packet of 10 Bible verses, tied with a rubber band, in his pocket, to refer to, even when confined to the nursing home. “As long as he was coherent, he would go over the verses.”
His Bible, “taped together with duct tape” with pages spilling out, also testifies to his commitment to God, Marcie said, noting that, as his hearing began failing, he’d pull up a chair near her to hear what she’d learned at Bible study.
Bob was admitted to the hospital on April 10, 2021, and never came home, succumbing to life’s limits there on Aug. 2.
“He had three strokes, one after the other,” Marcie said, leaving him without balance and the ability to walk.
Laurie said she’s never married, partly because her father set the bar so high.
“They just don’t make them like that anymore,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with that level of kindness and sensitivity to others,” adding, “And, we got a good mom, too.”
“He was a great husband,” Marcie added. “I always said he was God’s gift to me, because he was so very precious.”
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Aug. 12, 2022.]