8 over 80: Howard LangemoWhen floodwaters inundated Valley City in spring 2009, Howard Langemo went to work saving history.
VALLEY CITY — When floodwaters inundated Valley City in spring 2009, Howard Langemo went to work saving history.
“When the sewers of downtown Valley City overflowed, Howard came literally running to the rescue to help salvage artifacts from damage in the basement of the museum,” said Wes Anderson of the Barnes County Historical Society.
“He was essential in repairing all the damages that occurred due to the flooding and putting everything back into order afterward.”
The 84-year-old Langemo said helping out at the museum is a good fit for him because he likes fixing things, as well as trying to save money by making use of “old stuff.”
“It’s just kind of part of me now, I guess,” Langemo said. “People see me and say, ‘Oh, what’s going on at the museum?’ I feel like I’m making a contribution here and feel I’m needed here.”
Lending a hand at the museum has also helped pass the time since his wife died in 2007.
“It just seemed like it was very quiet, and it seemed like I was kind of wasting my time, so I started fixing things,” he said. “I’ve done almost 300 projects since I’ve started.”
His projects vary in size and include putting casters on items in the basement to make it easier to move them, restoring a Daughters of the American Revolution emblem and repairing mannequins.
Anderson called Langemo a “remarkable volunteer.”
“He’s come to the rescue on many, many things,” Anderson said. “We’re very proud of Howard and what he brings to us.”
Langemo’s dedication is also evident in his work with the Kiwanis Club. A member since 1949, he’s had perfect attendance for nearly 50 years. He helps sell programs for the rodeo during the Winter Show and sells tickets for the annual pancake feed. This year, he sold more than 150 tickets.
“Our emphasis is on youth. We try to support youth in every way that we can,” Langemo said.
Friend and fellow Kiwanis member Ken DeKrey of Valley City said Langemo is one of the city’s top 10 volunteers.
“He loves this town,” DeKrey said.
Langemo, a retired State Farm insurance agent, is also active with his church council and enjoys making handmade Christmas gifts for his grandchildren.
Grandson Matt Langemo of Fargo said his grandfather “is the single most kind, gentle and selfless man I have ever met.”
“He shows that kindness, hard work and a strong faith still have a place in today’s frenetic society,” he said. “I strive to become half the man my grandfather is. He is everything a North Dakota man can be.”
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.