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Press Photo by Mike Hricik Hettinger mayor-elect Richard Wyman speaks at an event in the town’s armory on Monday.

No health problem can stop him: Hettinger man conquers cancer, is elected mayor

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News Dickinson,North Dakota 58602
The Dickinson Press
No health problem can stop him: Hettinger man conquers cancer, is elected mayor
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

HETTINGER — One morning last year, a few months into chemotherapy for colon cancer, Hettinger resident Richard Wyman woke up and turned to his wife in bed.

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He said to get the pastor, as he didn’t believe he would make it to noon.

While still reclined, pain and weakness overcame him as he continued to shake and pray. But, Wyman was surprised to see Rev. Paul Lint of Hettinger’s United Methodist Church arrive within seven minutes of his wife’s call.

Wyman told the pastor that after talking with God, he was convinced he would be doomed after death.

“If I die right now, I don’t go to heaven,” he said.

The pastor continued to talk to Wyman through his pain and tell jokes. After a few hours, past noon, Wyman was sitting up, still alive.

Wyman’s health has not been ideal in the past few years, but he reached his official retirement in 2014 despite the odds.

“The heart attack (in 2007) was a piece of cake compared to the cancer,” he said.

No health problem stopped him from his accomplishment in the June 10 election, when he became mayor of Hettinger in an unopposed race.

Community members rallied around Wyman after he went into surgery for his cancer on Thanksgiving of 2012 with “a parade of meals” and beyond as his chemotherapy stretched to August 2013.

“It takes a village to raise a baby,” he said. “I had a village watching out after me.”

They supported him again in the mayoral race, where he received 299 out of 307 votes.

Wyman replaced incumbent mayor Steve Turner, who stepped down because of time constraints related to work. As mayor, Wyman said he would like to get rid of blind corners on city streets and update sewer infrastructure.

Mahlon Schweigert of Hettinger helped to stage a write-in campaign for Wyman as mayor as he eased into retirement.

“Richard’s name kind of popped out, so I encouraged him,” he said.

Schweigert, a friend of Wyman’s for 28 years, described the mayor-elect as “honest and trustworthy.” As a lumber yard manager in Hettinger, Schweigert organized 14 volunteers in May to complete necessary work on Wyman’s house.

Wyman continues to wake up at 4:30 a.m. everyday to work as a roofing contractor, leading high school and college students on work sites.

He despairs at not being able to do as much as he once did — his nerve endings are still affected by chemotherapy, and his strength has faded. He acknowledges that he may have to scale back his work even more after he is sworn in as mayor on June 24.

He also serves as the pastor for the United Church of Christ in Reeder, part of a passion for work and spirituality, he said.

Lint described Wyman’s faith as deep and abiding.

“He’s a man that will put other people’s needs before his own,” Lint said. “You see that in the long hours he puts in on the roofs. You see that in his work at the churches.”

Wyman called the day doctors told him that they found nothing abnormal last August one of the best feelings of his life, as he could return to his normal routines.

Wyman said considers himself fortunate because of his relationship with his wife, Holly, as well as with three children and seven grandchildren.

He moved to Hettinger in 1975, his wife’s hometown, and has been in business there ever since.