Remembering former state Rep. Frank Wald
Former Rep. Francis J. "Frank" Wald, R-Dickinson, passed away shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Dickinson. He was 76.
Wald was a man renowned for hard work, putting his heart into helping the community and being straightforward on even the most differentiated issues.
A strong work ethic was instilled in Wald from humble and difficult beginnings on a family farm in Logan County. He later utilized that characteristic as an insurance broker and effective legislator.
His insurance business started in the family's basement after he moved to Dickinson and eventually became very profitable, Wald's son Mark said.
Wald was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away peacefully less than a month later. His wife and eight children were present before his passing. Mark said that was the way his father had wanted to go.
"It was a lot of laughs, a lot of tears and a lot of good conversations," he said. "He was where he wanted to be."
Family members were treated to Wald's reminiscing thoughts of life on the farm, driving home from college, overseas travels, card games and fishing.
Wald earned a degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota and was a U.S. Army veteran. He served in Korea. He participated in local Rotary, Elks, Eagles and Knights of Columbus clubs.
Wald served in the North Dakota House for 30 years and held position as Chairman of Appropriations and Speaker of the House. He was involved with many laws and reforms.
Wald was a man that was well respected in the Legislature, Mark said.
"Everybody said that even if they were on the other side of the aisle they respected him. He didn't play any games," Mark said. "A lot of people told me they respected him because you knew right where he stood. He would work through an issue and take a stand and was not wishy-washy about it."
House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo knew Wald for more than 25 years, sat side by side with him for three sessions and said Wald was a good legislator and a good friend.
"Frank was a great legislator, the best man you could have had to represent western North Dakota," Carlson said. "He was fair and honest. It becomes a brotherhood in legislature and Frank met that mold. It is a real void when he is gone."
Former District 36 Rep. CB "Buck" Haas served with Wald in the Legislature for 10 years and also knew him through the Dickinson Rotary Club.
"He was a very, very fine legislator," he said. "He looked at things objectively and was not the kind of guy who was provincial."
Haas said when he was a freshmen legislator he could always go to Wald and trust him. Wald was balanced and never went overboard with his opinions, he added.
There are three main areas Haas recalls that Wald was most passionate about including working hard to make sure Dickinson State University's buildings were kept up-to-date.
He also, in his early years in office, fought for fairness when it came to oil development and reclamation.
Wald was helpful about getting funding for the Southwest Pipeline project but he was also concerned about water across North Dakota, Haas said.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the death.
"Frank Wald was a skilled and dedicated legislator who never stopped working for the people of our state. He understood the needs of western North Dakota and represented his friends and neighbors well. Our entire state is stronger and better because of his
Rep. Duane DeKrey, R-Pettibone, said his best memory of Wald is how he could speak on the House floor.
"He could really change the emotion of the body and bring people over to his side," DeKrey said.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the death of Wald.
"Betsy and I extend our deepest condolences to the family of Frank Wald, who dedicated his life to public service and to making a difference for his fellow citizens in western North Dakota and across the state. For 30 years, he was an effective legislator and leader, and worked hard to pass legislation that continues to have an impact on our state. It was a privilege for me to have served with Frank for several sessions on the House Appropriations Committee."
Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo, said Wald will be greatly missed.
"Frank Wald was no-nonsense. Conservative. Straightforward. But no matter how tough the battle was, Frank always seemed to have a smile in his eyes," Thoreson said. "He was a master of the legislative process, and our state -- especially his beloved western North Dakota -- is a better place because of his service."
District 36 Rep. Mike Schatz said Wald showed him the ins and outs of the legislature process.
"He was a leader, first of all, but he was many more things than that. There are so many good things to say," Shatz said. "He was a great inspiration as a Legislator, business person and leader."
Wald is survived by his wife, eight children and 12 grandchildren.
Frank's Mass of Christian Burial will be 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Dickinson.
Forum Communications Co. multimedia reporter Teri Finneman contributed to this story.